In Ayurveda, we use the principle of "like increases like, opposites balance each other" to guide our actions. That means we treat an excess of a particular quality by introducing more of its opposite.
Let me give a few examples. When it's hot, we try to consume foods that are cooling. When it's dry, we try to consume foods that are moist.
When it's both hot and dry, what do you think Ayurveda recommends? You've got it: moist, cooling, rasa-building foods and beverages.
This is the time of year when it's actually appropriate to indulge in occasional sweet treats like ice cream. Hooray! (In moderation of course, and during the day rather than at night so it's less likely to produce mucus)
The best tastes to favor in summer are sweet, bitter and astringent because they are cooling. Conversely, it's beneficial to minimize foods that are salty, sour and pungent (spicy) because they are heating.
Care For Your Digestive Fire
You may have noticed that your appetite decreases when it's hot outside. The digestive fire disperses during the summertime to keep us cool.
As a result, favor smaller, lighter meals when the days are long. Think fresh fruit salads or green smoothies for breakfast, rice with veggies and protein or hearty salads for lunch and light soups for dinner. Veggies and fruits make up a large proportion of the summer diet.
A Sampling of Foods to Favor
Vegetables and fruits: asparagus, celery, cucumbers, leafy greens, lettuce, potatoes, snap peas, summer squash, avocados, berries, coconut, figs, limes, melons, nectarines, peaches, sweet grapes
Beverages: lots of water, diluted fruit juices, coconut water, aloe vera juice, mint tea, hibiscus tea, licorice tea (avoid if you have high blood pressure)
Herbs and spices: basil, cardamom, cilantro, coriander, dill, fennel, mint
Dial Back The Intensity
People often complain about how fast summer goes, but they don't actually take the time to slow down and enjoy the more languorous pace. Here are some ways that you can adapt your daily activities to compensate for the summer heat.
▪ Become a morning person: Hot days can zap your energy and leave you feeling like a puddle by mid afternoon. Ayurveda teaches that it's easier to wake up early during the summer. Start your day an hour or two before you normally would and try to finish your most complex/important tasks by lunch. You'll get the added benefit of extra time to relax in the evenings.
▪ Decrease the heat and intensity of your physical activity: If you normally do hot yoga, mix in some yin or restorative yoga. Try switching to swimming or bicycling instead of running.
▪ Spend time in nature: Walk barefoot in the grass, pack a picnic dinner, take a leisurely walk in the evening, watch the sunset, spread out a blanket in your backyard/local park and stargaze.
▪ Incorporate cooling scents into your bathing routine: Some of my favorites are lavender, jasmine, peppermint, rose, sandalwood and vetiver.
To learn detailed food and lifestyle suggestions for your specific constitution, check out this article from Banyan Botanicals on maximizing your summer health.