If your constitution is dominated by pitta, you’ll want to be especially vigilant about adopting a seasonal routine during the summer. Following as many of the below recommendations as possible will go a long way toward preventing an unhealthy accumulation of pitta. Of all the types, you will need to be most mindful of staying cool in the summer and of balancing your sharp focus with plenty of play and leisure.
Foods to Favor
Your diet will be one of the best ways you can keep your pitta in balance during the summer months. Use lots of cooling spices and garnishes like fennel, coriander, cilantro, lime, and shredded coconut. Foods that will be especially supportive include avocados, coconut, watermelon, asparagus, cucumber, leafy greens, red lentils, and mung beans.1 And feel free to eat lots of salad! If you take triphala regularly, you may want to try switching to amalaki during the summer months.2 Or, take some aloe vera juice/gel or avipattikar to help clear excess pitta from the digestive tract.
Acceptable Seasonal Indulgences
You can indulge in some sweet, creamy treats this summer to help you stay cool—ice cream or popsicles, creamy rice or tapioca puddings, and lassis (sweet or spiced yogurt drinks). The best time of day to have these will be mid-day, perhaps an hour or two after lunch. Breads made of wheat, barley, and/or oats, rice cakes and the like will also calm pitta.
Foods to Minimize
Your system will be very sensitive to hot, acidic foods like chilies and cayenne peppers as well as sour and fermented foods, so try to stay away from these as much as possible. Even mildly heating fruits such as bananas, cranberries, grapefruit, lemon, or pineapple may be too much for you. The same goes for heating vegetables (like corn, eggplant, olives, radishes, tomatoes, and cooked spinach), sour cheeses, hard liquor and red wines. Everybody is a little different, so your best strategy is to develop awareness around your eating habits and how you feel after eating. Learn to pay attention to subtle signs of increased heat and minimize any foods that seem to cause acidity, diarrhea, a rash, or a sour taste in your mouth.
The most important thing you can do for yourself is to keep cool, physically and emotionally. Plan your time to be out and about—especially if you’ll be in the sun—for the cooler parts of the day, in the early morning or in the evening. Cover up, shade yourself, and drink plenty of cooling fluids like peppermint tea or water with lime and a bit of unrefined cane sugar. Exercise in the early morning and try not to push too hard. Integrate plenty of twists and forward bends into your yoga practice, minimize inversions, and experiment with sheetali pranayama—the cooling breath. In general, cultivate a sense of playfulness and relaxation to soften your sharp edges.
1 Lad, Vasant. Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. The Ayurvedic Press, 2006. 232-238.
2 Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. Churchill Livingston Elsevier, 2006. 51-52.