Danielle Copperman, author of ‘Well Being: Recipes and rituals to realign the body and mind’, shares her insights into what to eat this Spring.
In Ayurveda, the same way living beings have doshas, seasons do too. Spring is known to be the kapha season, which starts off somewhat wet and cold in March and develops to become still wet but much warmer between around June / July. In early kapha season, the world is slowly coming out of hibernation and things are beginning to awaken and reemerge with new life. Kapha characteristics are known to be heavy, slow and cool, so it is good to incorporate practices that make you feel light, active and warm, such as detoxing your diet, exercising regularly, eating warm foods and getting under the sun whenever it’s out.
During kapha season, when we want to adopt more vata and pita habits in order to balance the kapha energies, it is a good idea to cleanse internally, by really purifying your diet and detoxifying any internal build up. Luckily, spring’s produce supports this, providing us with light and hydrating ingredients that are high in vitamins and minerals to aid detoxification. As well, further cleansing can be done where needed, to gently purge and reset the digestive system (in other words, if you’ve never had a colonic, now could be the time).
Try incorporating some of the following ingredients into your meals and habits into your daily routines to cleanse from within and to eat as nature intended, with ingredients determined to support us this season.
To eat in ways to support you during the spring, eat both seasonally available and abundant ingredients, but also be mindful to eat in ways that balance kapha energies. For example, avoid oily, greasy, heavy and dense foods, and instead opt for lighter and drier ingredients. Enjoy warm foods rather than cold or entirely raw foods, and favour rough, fibrous ingredients more than soft or smooth ones (such as banana and avocado).
Asparagus, Broccoli, Dandelion greens, Lettuce, Fennel, Spinach, Peas, Potatoes, Strawberries, Carrots, Green Beans, Garlic, Leafy herbs, Rhubarb
* Take into account also your own Ayurvedic constituency, as this will determine more personally what you need and also what you digest best.
As spring approaches, I would suggest a 3-7 day cleanse incorporating both spring produce and kapha balancing ingredients, with a daily eating schedule looking something like this:
Start the day with two glasses of water (around 1 litre in total), on an empty stomach. Add a dash of fresh lemon juice, sliced cucumber, ginger root, turmeric root, a stick of activated charcoal or apple cider vinegar, to flavour the water but also to awaken the nutrients of it and add more nourishment to each sip.
Throughout the rest of the day, ensure you drink a minimum of 2 litres in total. Try to avoid drinking a lot during mealtimes, and instead be mindful to time it by drinking at least 1/2 an hour before a big meal. Small sips during or after a meal are fine, but it is preferable to drink a little while before eating if you can.
Try to have breakfast after 10am, when your digestion is more active and energetic. If you get hungry before, try to enjoy a liquid meal, such as a juice or smoothie, or some plain, fresh or cooked fruit.
Try to make lunch your biggest meal of the day, and try to enjoy it between 12pm and 2pm, when the digestive system is most active and efficient. During a cleansing period, try to base your meals on raw and/or cooked (ideally not fried or roasted, but boiled or steamed) vegetables, whole or psuedo grains, and ethically sourced meat or fish. Foods like salads, soups, stews, kitchari, dahl, curries, or mixed vegetables are advisable. Try to avoid processed condiments or dressings, and select seasonal ingredients as much as possible, as they are in season for a reason!
Try to keep dinner relatively small compared to lunch. Try to eat by 6pm, as the digestive system is thought to slow between 6pm and 10pm. Base your meals on the same ingredients and ideas as lunch, and try not to snack before bed. Avoid rich or sugary foods and substitute with fresh fruit if you really crave dessert. Also enjoy herbal tea if you need something else later in the evening. Try to drink a small glass of water before bed (and take any relevant supplements such as probiotics before bed, too).
Try not to snack at odd times throughout the day, but instead snack directly after your main meals. Enjoy fresh fruits, raw vegetables, natural and wholesome dips (like houmous) and / or nuts and seeds. Also enjoy hot water (which is known to nurture the digestive system), herbal teas, coffee, cacao or other adaptogen drinks whenever you feel hungry. Light liquid ‘meals’ are also advisable, such as juices or smoothies.
Craving a good spring clean? Danielle has some tips on how to spring cleanse your life the sustainable way.
Try making Kitchari with Jasmine Hemsley’s recipe.