If your constitution is dominated by vata, the heat of summer likely doesn’t bother you much. Instead, you’ll want to ensure that you’re not over-exposed to summer’s dry, sharp, mobile and expansive qualities. This is especially important because, if your vata is aggravated by summer’s end, it will be that much harder to have a healthy vata season, come autumn. So, enjoy the heat and focus your attention on staying grounded, calm, relaxed, and well-hydrated.
Foods to Favor
You may find that you can tolerate slightly heating foods like apricots, bananas, cranberries, citrus, mango, peaches, pineapple, root vegetables, and cooked spinach. If you need to cool off, reach for avocados, cucumbers, cilantro, summer squash, or zucchini.1 You will also benefit from oily, nourishing foods like coconut, dates, okra, olives, sweet potatoes, wheat, quinoa, and rice. Other supportive foods for you would include kidney beans, mung beans, miso and a wide variety of dairy products. Since most spices will support your digestive fire rather than overheating it, feel free to indulge your taste buds—just avoid intensely fiery dishes.
Acceptable Seasonal Indulgences
Sweet, creamy treats, are grounding, calming, and nourishing, and can be a nice addition to your summer diet, but don’t overdo the iced and frozen foods like ice cream and popsicles. Instead, try rice or tapioca puddings, chai, spiced milk, and lassis (sweet or spiced yogurt drinks). You might also enjoy nourishing breads and other baked treats that have a cooling energetic but that are packed with nutrition. And, you may find that you can stay ahead of the summer heat without completely giving up aged cheese, sour cream, hard liquor, or red wine, but watch for increased heat or acidity with these foods.
Foods to Minimize
You’ll want to limit your intake of the more astringent fruits such as apples, pears, berries, pomegranate and dried fruits. Foods like watermelon, salad, raw vegetables, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and white potatoes may overtax your delicate digestion.1 If you do eat these foods, make sure they are well oiled, well spiced, and try to eat them for lunch rather than dinner. Your best strategy in determining you ideal summer diet will be to develop awareness around your eating habits and how you feel after eating. Learn to pay attention to subtle signs of increased dryness like gas, bloating, constipation, or dry skin.
The most important thing you can do for yourself in the summer is to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Your tendency may be to get carried away by the expansive, mobile nature of the summer, forgetting to create stability for yourself. To calm your nervous system, you may enjoy a half and half mixture of sesame oil and coconut oil for your oil massage before bathing. Rather than packing in as much as you can possibly take on, develop a strong intention to rest, relax, and maintain a somewhat open schedule. Maybe choose a stay-cation over a vacation that crosses multiple time zones. Seek out soothing and gentle forms of exercise such as a relaxed swim, tai chi, gentle yoga, or a walk in nature. Integrate full yogic breath and at least 10 minutes of shavasana into your yoga practice, breathe deeply throughout the day, and spend some time relaxing on the couch.
1 Lad, Vasant. Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. The Ayurvedic Press, 2006. 232-238.