Ritucharya (‘Ritu’ meaning season and ‘charya’ implying discipline) is an old Ayurvedic practice that comprises way of life and Ayurvedic diet routine. It adapts to substantial and mental effects via seasonal changes as suggested by Ayurvedic experts in this field. These guidelines serve as prescriptions for diet and lifestyle changes throughout the year, including Ayurvedic detox treatments, and help us keep clear in our minds, fulfilled in our spirits, and vibrant in our bodies. With Ritucharya, one can improvise their physical strength and mental capability to cope with illnesses that happen due to changing seasons experienced in our life.
In Ayurvedic thought, each of us embodies a dominant natural constitution or Prakruti: either Vata, Pitta, or Kapha (or a combination of any of the above). Vata types are ruled by the qualities of air and space, Pitta types are ruled by fire and water, and Kapha types are ruled by water and earth. Each season pacifies or ignites these energies within us, meaning that our systems can be thrown out of balance if we don’t take measures to adapt our bodies to the weather.
According to Ayurveda, the year is divided into two periods, each containing three seasons –
• Uttarayana, the cold months, which contains the seasons of Sharada, Hemanta, and Shishira.
•Dakshinayana, the warm months, which contains the seasons Vasanta, Grishma, and Varsha.
Here, we will talk about the healthy eating habits in specific Ritu’s(seasons)-
▪︎ Sharada Ritucharya
Sharada Ritu begins in the middle of September and lasts until mid-November. The sun turns out to be splendid. The sky is clear but sometimes white clouds can be seen. The earth is smeared with wet mud. As we get one last surge of warmth and dryness after the rainy season, your agni, or digestive fire, regains its strength. Water and fire are both prominent energies during this transitional time, which makes it the perfect period to begin to pacify those Pitta energies.
What to eat
The goal of this season is to step in smoothly into winter. In order to cleanse yourself and prepare your digestive system for the heavier fare of the colder months, eat bitter, light, cold, astringent, and sweet foods that are easy on your stomach, and avoid foods high in fat and salt. The ideal Sharada diet includes rice, honey, green leafy veggies, tomatoes, root vegetables, pineapples, berries, plums, ghee (clarified butter), and other dairy products. The food products which contain fat oils, meat and curd should be excluded.
▪︎ Hemanta Ritucharya
Hemanta Ritu blows in during the middle of November and lasts until the middle of January. During this time, your agni is at its strongest.An individual’s strength and energy stays at the highest level. The elemental energies of earth and water are dominant, which means that fiery Pitta becomes grounded and pacified.
What to eat
The goal of this season is to keep you warm and nourished. Now’s the time to eat sweet, sour, and salty foods, as well as unctuous or oily dishes. Keep that digestive fire burning strong! Eat warming foods and lots of fermented dishes (like kimchi and sauerkraut), and avoid foods that are cold, light, and dry. The ideal Hemanta diet includes pumpkin, cabbage, spinach, corn, rice, carrots, potatoes, onions, beets, apples, dates, and dairy products.
▪︎ Shishira Ritucharya
The cold settles in for a few months in Shishira Ritu, which lasts from mid-January until mid-March. This wet, cold season brings with it an increase in heavy Kapha energies, which means that your agni needs to burn even brighter to keep things balanced. People become lethargic and less energetic.
What to eat
Keep up with the diet you’ve established during the Hemanta Ritu, with lots of sweet, sour, salty, fatty, and fermented foods served with warming spices. Avoid any astringent or cold foods. The ideal Shishira diet includes lots of dairy products, root vegetables, apples, grapes, rice, wheat, beans, amla, ginger, garlic, pippali (product of piper longum), sugarcane items, and sweets (in moderation, of course!)
▪︎ Vasanta Ritucharya
As nature begins to stir back into life, we transition into the Dakshinayana, or the warmer months. Vasanta Ritu lasts from mid-March to mid-May, and earth and air energies combine to make this time a lively transitional period. Kapha energies start to disperse, which douses your agni and can cause a lot of discomforts. The strength of an individual remains medium during this season.
What to eat
This is one of the more sensitive times for our body, so focus on eating easily-digestible bitter and astringent foods, and avoid cold, viscous, heavy, sour, and sweet dishes. The ideal Vasanta ritu diet includes gut-healthy foods like barley and honey and gently stimulating spices like coriander, cumin, turmeric, and fennel. Lentil, Mugda can be taken in pulses.
▪︎ Grishma Ritucharya
It’s the summer season! Grishma Ritu lasts from Mid-May to Mid-July.The water of wells, lakes, and rivers dries up and plants become lifeless. Fire and air energies dominate this season, drying things out and increasing both the Pitta and Vata energies within the body. Your agni is at an all-time low, so keeping things light is a must.
What to eat
This is the time of year for sweet, light, cold, mineral-rich food. Eat lots of herbs and drink lots of fruit juices, and avoid sour, pungent, or warm foods. Keep hydrated with lots of water, and seek out antioxidants. The ideal Grishma diet includes lots of fresh fruit, and veggies like asparagus, cucumber, celery, and leafy greens. Before sleep milk with little sugar should also be taken.
▪︎ Varsha Ritucharya
Varsha Ritu takes place from mid-July to mid-September. This is typically a wet, rainy season, with earth and fire energies rising to the forefront.An individual’s strength becomes weak during this season. Your agni is heavily sank during this season, so it’s time to get that fire roaring again.
What to eat
Salty, sour, and oily foods are the star of this season. Although you want your digestive fire to begin to pick up, avoid heavy foods at first and transition slowly through the season. The ideal Varsha diet avoids uncooked foods and favors warm, freshly-cooked meals. Help your digestion out with ginger and lemon, and eat a lot of thin soups. Old barley, wheat, rice, etc. are advised among grains.Boiled water is always preferred in this season.
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