Since Ayurveda recommends a 3-season diet, I'm often asked…“what is a seasonal diet”?
Eating “seasonally” means you eat foods in the same season they are grown. Why? Because eating foods that are in season will provide you the nutrition to match the conditions of that time of year.
When the temperatures begin to climb and you find yourself craving juicy tomatoes, that may just be your body's way of telling you the nutrients it needs. This theory goes beyond eating the fruits and vegetables that are in season because they cost less or taste better.
Ayurveda recommends we eat seasonally grown vegetables because they are designed by mother nature to supply our bodies with health-promoting digestive microbes that support health and immunity in that season.
What is a Seasonal Diet?
Why Eating Seasonally Year-Round is Important
More Nutrients and Better Flavor
Produce consumed in-season has a higher nutritional value because it's harvested in the season of consumption. Foods that are out of season typically need to be transported long distances. This affects the nutrient value and flavor of the food because the time between it being harvested and getting to the plate is a lot longer.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are typically organic meaning they are sprayed with fewer pesticides; if any at all.
When eating seasonally, it’s best to buy produce from your local farmers market. As more produce is consumed seasonally, the demand for out of season produces lessons. This is more environmentally friendly because of less travel time between you and the store. Less shipping time also means betters flavor and higher nutrient content.
Reconnect with Nature
Our bodies were meant to eat different foods as the season change. During the fall and winter, we crave comfort food to gain more weight and to keep us warm. While in spring, we crave greens that are low in calories, to help us detox and lose the weight gained during winter. Finally, in summer we eat cool and refreshing produce to keep us cool and hydrated.
Eating seasonally also provides variety and excitement to your diet. It even supports your local economy because it is best to buy in-season produce from your local farmers market. As you continue to eat foods that are in season you will notice plenty of health benefits as well. Such as clearer skin, a healthier weight, and more energy. That is because fruits and vegetables offer lots of nutrition and are typically lower in calories.
Live in Harmony With Nature
Living in harmony with nature will reveal to you the infinite intelligence of everything. It will help you to simplify your life and make better choices so you can live a long and prosperous life.
Why We Crave Fresh Greens In Spring
Winter is over and it’s starting to finally warm up again, which means cravings for fresh greens are kicking in. Just like how we change our clothes as the seasons progress our natural cravings for food will too.
Our bodies are designed to adapt to our surroundings. This means when it starts getting cold outside we will crave heavy and warm foods. And during summer months our bodies will crave cool and refreshing foods.
Spring has all the same qualities of Kapha Dosha, which are heavy, cold and oily. If we want to stay healthy and balanced we must focus on taking foods that are light, dry and warm.
Springtime brings plenty of fresh greens. Greens that are in season include:
- Bok choy
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Spring baby lettuce
- Swiss chard and pea shoots
Aim to incorporate these spring vegetables into your diet as much as possible.
More reasons why we crave fresh greens in spring:
Fresh greens are full of antioxidants and minerals that your body craves. They offer the most nutrition than any other food. The primary vitamins include C, K, A and foliate. They are also high in iron, potassium, and fiber.
Spring greens allow your body to detox after a winter full of comfort foods. Winter weather is hard on your body and the threat of illness is much higher resulting in a poor immune system. Detoxing helps boost your immune system and enhances your digestive system; protecting you from illnesses during the warmer weather.
They keep you cool
Greens are lightweight, low in calorie and have a high concentration of water. They are also low in fat and sodium. All these factors work together to keep you cool during warmer weather.
Greens are good for weight loss because they are low in calories, fat, and sodium. Studies have shown that greens also have nutrients that help burn fat cells. After a long winter, your body craves greens to help lose the extra weight that kept you warm.
As you can see, our bodies crave greens during spring for good reasons. They help supply nutrients that were missing during winter. Besides, they help cleanse the body to prepare for warmer weather and they aid in weight loss to keep you cool. They are light, refreshing and high in vitamins responsible for energy levels. In the winter, all your body wanted to do was rest but now it is time to get moving, enjoy mother nature and fill up on spring greens.
Shop Your Local Farmer's Market
Farmers’ markets in spring are abundant with great fruits and vegetables. They also make shopping fun and more enjoyable. You get to meet the people who grow your foods and even try something you’ve never heard of before. All while supporting your local economy, environment and giving your body the best nutrients possible.
Some areas are luckily enough to have them year-round but if not, they start to open around May and have some fantastic options.
Spring Favorites To Look For At Your Local Market
Asparagus is a superfood that is packed full of nutrients and is at its peak in April. This vegetable can be prepared raw, blanched, grilled, oven-roasted, boiled and fried. Making it an extremely versatile vegetable to add to any meal. Asparagus is high in Vitamin K which is important for blood clotting.
Artichokes are one of the best antioxidant-rich vegetables. They are low in fat, high in fiber, loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, magnesium. They are also one of the richest sources of antioxidants.
Mid to late spring is when cherries start to arrive at farmer's markets. Cherries are sweet, sour, astringent and heating. They contain high amounts of antioxidants and help reduce inflammation and aid in digestion. They are good for mental fatigue, stress, and insomnia.
Spring greens are probably the most prominent foods to buy at the farmers’ market. Most farmers markets are filled with arugula, kale, bok choy, collard greens, dandelion greens, parsley, spinach, spring baby lettuce, Swiss chard, and pea shoots this time of year.
The best time to buy strawberries is during April. These sweet berries are the most popular item to buy at farmers markets and typically run out fast. They are full of antioxidants that help regulate inflammation and protect the skin.
Microgreens Are Nutritional Power Houses
When the seeds of vegetables develop tiny roots, and their first leaves start to show they are considered microgreens.
They are between the growth stages of sprouts and baby greens. Microgreens are typically harvested within two to three weeks after they have been planted in soil. The most popular microgreens are cilantro, arugula, radish, basil, beets, broccoli, and kale.
A study conducted by the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources determined that microgreens are more nutrient dense than their mature plant. T
Some microgreens showed results of up to forty percent more nutrients. The researchers measured vitamins C, E, and K and beta-carotene in twenty-five different varieties of microgreens. Some of the microgreens measured in the study included arugula, basil, cilantro, celery, daikon radish, and red cabbage.
Microgreens are packed full of minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients such as:
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent damage done to cells by free radicals. Go for red cabbage microgreens to get the highest vitamin c.
- Vitamin E – Daikon radish microgreens contain the highest amount of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps slow down the aging process of cells and prevents free radicals from causing any damage to cells.
- Vitamin K – Another vitamin heavily found in microgreens is Vitamin K. Vitamin k is responsible for bone and blood health. It handles blood clotting or coagulating.
- Phytonutrients – Although not essential for life phytonutrients are excellent for the body because of their anti-inflammatory properties. Phytonutrients are compounds that help protect and increase the longevity of the plant.
- Beta-Carotene – Beta-Carotene is found in carrots and has since been discovered in microgreens according to the study done at the University of Maryland. Beta-carotene is a pigment that is converted into an antioxidant called vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintain the health of skin, eyes, and vision.
- Enzymes – Microgreens are rich in enzymes that help break down food and aids in digestion.
To Keep Healthy and Vital During Spring
- Eat more foods that are Bitter, Astringent, and Pungent (spicy) (steamed vegetables, brothy soups, brown rice)
- Eat fewer foods that are Sweet, Sour, or Salty. (heavy, cold, oily foods like fried foods, ice cream, cheese, or dairy products
- Do an Ayurvedic spring cleanse to cleanse your lymphatic system
- Take 500 mg of Manjistha, Turmeric, and Tulsi for 6 weeks to cleanse the lymphatic system
- Give yourself a self-massage daily with a lymphatic massage oil or raw sesame oil
- Do Alternate Nostril Breathing (breathing) practices
- Exercise in the morning to increase circulation
- Use a Neti pot daily to cleanse the mucus from your nasal passages