Spring is a season of birth, new beginnings, renewal, and growth—a time for the earth to make manifest the latent potential within all things. Seeds are germinating, flowers budding, insects buzzing, leaves unfurling. Our physiology senses a natural opportunity for a fresh, clean start; our bodies are primed to lighten things up, cleanse ourselves of any accumulated imbalances, and rejuvenate our deepest tissues. Your appetite may decrease and you may find yourself craving fruit, fresh vegetables, and salads galore. This is your body’s way of telling you that it’s time for some spring-cleaning. In fact, spring is a perfect time of year for a cleanse. Juice fasts with pomegranate or apple juice, and mono-diets are wonderfully supportive. But even outside the confines of a structured dietary cleanse, you can support your body’s natural desire to purify and renew by favoring the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes and by eating warm, light foods that are relatively easy to digest.
Summer, like each of the seasons, arrives with its own distinct personality. The most striking characteristics of summer—the heat, the long days of bright sun, the sharp intensity, and the transformative nature of the season. During the summer, our bodies naturally crave light foods and small meals. Summer is a time to favor the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes and to relish in cool, liquid, even slightly oily foods.2 This is the best time of year to enjoy fresh fruits and salads. It is also a great time to indulge in sweet dairy products such as milk, butter, ghee, cottage cheese, fresh homemade yogurt, and even ice cream on occasion. In the way of beverages to beat the heat, enjoy cool or room temperature water infused with mint or lime and a little raw sugar, a sweet lassi, cooling herbal teas such as peppermint, licorice, fennel or rose, or an occasional beer.
Fall is a time of transition. It is evident everywhere around you. Many trees and shrubs are quietly undressing in preparation for the winter. Temperatures, which, just a few weeks ago were raging with the intense heat of summer, are beginning to hint at the telltale crispness of autumn. Substantive, oily, nourishing foods that are high in protein, high in fat, brought to life with warming, stimulating spices, and served hot, will go a long way toward maintaining your internal reserves of moisture. You’ll also want to favor the sweet, sour, and salty tastes. In general, eat mushy, soft foods and garnish them generously with ghee or oil. Breakfasts of cooked grains—like oatmeal, tapioca, cream of rice, and cream of wheat—are perfect at this time of year. Lunches and dinners that include steamed vegetables, hearty grains, soups, and stews are grounding and moisturizing. If you eat meat and eggs, this is one of the best times of year to enjoy them. Dairy products and most nuts and seeds are also beneficial.
Winter is characterized by cold weather, a sense of heaviness, increased moisture (usually in the form of rain or snow), cloud-covered days, and the grounded, slow feeling that sends many animals into hibernation. The body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy in the winter months, and the cold weather forces the fire principle deep into the core of the body—igniting the digestive capacity. Our bodies therefore crave a more substantial, nutritive diet at this time of year, and you will likely find yourself eating larger quantities of food. In general, you’ll want to focus on eating warm, cooked, slightly oily, well-spiced foods, favoring a balance of the sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. Drink room temperature, warm, or hot beverages and avoid iced or chilled drinks, if possible.