With Spring well and truly under way, temperatures rising, and the sun shining, all this week I'm teaching classes which support a spring cleanse. Spring is the perfect time for a cleanse and detox. Temperatures are increasing, days are lengthening (in Europe) meaning that we're starting to come out of winter hiberation, our bodies adjusting to this. All winter we've been eating foods higher in fat, moving less, relaxing, restoring.
According to Ayurveda, the winter period increases the presence of kapha. Kapha is one of the three doshas, which are combinations of properties which are present in all living things. We need all three doshas, working in balance, in order to live. Whilst winter increases kapha, it is the change in the seasons with increasing temperatures, wetness and wind that create kapha aggravation. This increases the likelihood of coughs, colds, hayfever, respiratory illnesses, and constipation.
To help restore and maintain balance of kapha, we can eat to bring balance, and adjust our routines. Food is the primary way we maintain health in our body. However, if our body is overloaded with toxins, it is unable to process them sufficiently, to allow us to fully benefit from the health in our food. This is why detoxification is needed.
Kapha can handle a full fast for several days. However, your ability to fast will also depend on your personal constitution. If you have fasted before and know you can handle it, then this is a good option. Please remember to drink plenty of warm (non-caffeinated fluids). Don't do this for more than 3 days. After 3 days, introduce foods slowly, starting with rice soup, then adding a watery kitchari, building your ability to eat food up slowly. Eat small meals 3 times a day. Avoid anything hard to digest, or anything highly acidic.
If you are free spirited, creative, flighty, slim build (regardless of what you eat), anxious, nervous, constantly moving, easily bored, restless, thin muscles and bones, dry skin and nails, then you should avoid fasting, and instead do a mild detox where you eat 3 times a day, but keep the meals small, and just eat rice soup or kitchari (rice and lentils), for 3 days. You can also do yoga and meditation to support detoxing and cleansing.
After detoxing (or you can just choose to eat for kapha without a detox), you can eat to support balance for kapha. If you are feeling generally well and balanced then this is good. If you have skin problems, blood issues, acid reflux, heartburn, inflammation anywhere, joint or muscle aches, eye diseases, muscle wasting, undernourishment, anxiety and stress - then a kapha balancing diet may cause further issues.
For kapha favour dry, rough, light, warm, cooked, fibrous, spiced, bitter and astringent foods. Eat wholegrains, green vegetables, and fruits which aren't too sweet (berries, citrus, green fruits - bananas, mangoes, papayas, and apples), small quantities of nuts, seeds, honey (a kapha superfood). Reduce dairy, meat, fatty foods, white or processed grains, root vegetables, processed foods especially sweet, dried fruit (except dates), pastries and uncooked/raw food.
If you have dessert, have it at lunch. Except for fruit - eat this between meals and stick to 1 kind of fruit. Unless you are constipated, then eat fruit after dinner and it'll sort you right out!
You can also have moderate amounts of red wine, dark chocolate, coffee and black tea as these are stimulating and bitter for kapha.
Breakfast ideas: granola with yoghurt, or nut milks and fresh berries; wholegrain toast with a little spread and marmite/vegemite; coffee with coconut milk, blended with dates, cardamon seeds, cinnamon, turmeric and dried ground ginger
Lunch ideas: Stir fry with lots of green leafy veges, brocolli, peppers, courgettes, a little chilli, ginger, garlic served with noodles or rice; Quinoa or black rice salad with cooked vegetables, nuts and seeds; a few squares of dark chocolate
Dinner ideas: Vegetable soup with wholegrain toast; Roasted sweet potatoes tossed in harissa; vegetable tacos
For routines, to balance kapha:
Sleep: moderately - go to bed early and wake early; avoid daytime naps (unless shift working).
Eat: eat at regular times, eat breakfast as late as possible and dinner as early as possible, and make lunch your main meal; break up the routine by varying what you eat regularly. Drink warm drinks, avoid chilled drinks.
Exercise: Get daily exercise, sufficient to make you sweat and a little out of breath.