The one diet that works for everyone

Over the last few months, I’ve been sharing bits and pieces from my journey becoming a Holistic Health coach.  I started a series on finding the best foods for YOUR body and after looking at ancestry, blood type, metabolic type and allergies, and I promised to follow up with Aryuveda.

This is by far my favorite “diet” – largely because it isn’t one.

In Aryuvedic medicine, there is still the emphasis on the individual and the recognition that no one diet will fit everyone.  Body types and seasons of eating are categorized in three “doshas”:  kapha (spring), pitta (summer) and vata (winter).  You can take a simple test to help you determine which body type best fits you (I do this with my clients) and there are some health and lifestyle recommendations specific to each body type.

But beyond the differences, what I love about Aryuveda is the emphasis on the one way of eating that DOES work for everyone- and that is getting back in balance with nature through seasonal eating.

Eating locally and seasonally has gained a lot of popularity again and there are numerous benefits, including:

  • fresher foods
  • more economical (less transportation)
  • often fewer chemicals sprayed or used
  • supports the local economy
  • builds community, especially if you shop at a market where you can get to know the farmer’s

Aryuveda reminds us that this is the kind of eating that nature intended and it has profound health benefits.  Each season offers foods to keep our bodies in balance and help protect from illness or disease.  Here’s a brief overview:

Spring: Spring is the time for renewal and nature grows food to cleanse our bodies from winter’s heavier foods.  Our bodies are primed for fat-burning and it’s an ideal time to detox.  Focus on greens, sprouts, dandelion greens or tea, start a garden, increase your exercise and get outside.  The baby vegetables, sprouts and greens and sours like lemon and apple cider vinegar support and cleanse the liver.

Summer: In summer we add more variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and increase the quantity of raw foods we eat to keep us cool.  Summer emphasizes the bitter flavors (greens, ginseng, cucumbers) and supports our heart and small intestine.

Fall: The flavors of fall are spicy or pungent, and include garlic, ginger and curries to support the lungs and colon.  Cooler climates grow apples, peaches, pumpkins, squashes and we begin to include more nuts, grains and seeds.

Winter: Traditionally, winter was the time when our ancestors ate more protein and fat for warmth and energy, along with more cooked foods and anything that stored well (root vegetables like potatoes, beets, carrots and onions) or could be dried.  Winter is associated with the salty flavor, and including fish and seaweed supports the kidneys and bladder.

This is a very brief (and over-simplified) summary, but the more I’ve studied Aryuveda, the more I’ve grown to love it.  For thousands of years, we didn’t worry about a particular way or eating or following any kind of diet- we ate what was available and it was exactly what our bodies needed.

John Douillard points out that the main seasons in Aryuveda correlate with some of the most popular diets- spring is the low-fat, low-calorie diets (Jenny Craig), summer is similar to the vegetarian or higher carbohydrate diets (Eat to Win, Pritikin Diet) and winter lines up well with higher protein diets (Atkins or Paleo).  He argues that by changing our eating with the seasons, we actually need all of these diets but at different times of the year.  If you’re interested in reading more, check out his book “The 3-Season Diet.”

In the book, he goes into great detail about what particular foods are best eaten in which season but I don’t think it needs to be that complicated.

It’s officially fall.  We can start replacing fresh salads with roasted or steamed veggies, cook more beans, grains or meat for warmth and energy, increase nuts for fat and incorporate the produce that grows around you.  Fall is also the ideal time to slow down your lifestyle to help remove toxins and de-stress your body.

Fall’s foods are naturally immunity-boosting and prepare our bodies to be healthy and balanced as we enter the cooler season.

(I also share more holistic health info in my newsletter each month as I try to keep this mostly a running blog.  :))

Are you starting to find local apples and squashes at the market? Do you find yourself craving warmer soups and stews with the cooler weather?


38 thoughts on “The one diet that works for everyone

  1. this is so cool and makes so much sense!! i actually was really happy to still find peaches and plums at the farmer’s market last weekend cuz i know itz late in season for them! i have been craving a lot more warm oatmeal though with these cooler morning temperatures!
    Linz @ Itz Linz recently posted..comfort oatmealMy Profile

  2. Interesting! Yes I just made my first Fall soup of the season with butternut squash, sweet potatoes, nutmeg and dried ginger. Yummy warm.

  3. we try our best to eat seasonally, but know with Michelle’s eczema we are realzing that sometimes when a food is in season it can cause more harm than good….health is never easy. But we do love the Aryuveda approach, we came across this back on 2006. And it helped kick start our health journey. Although we did follow what it recommends for our type, we did not notice any huge benefits. But still think it is a great way of looking at life and diet.
    Purelytwins recently posted..time to Soli BeatMy Profile

  4. I’m starting to love my crockpot! There’s nothing better then coming home form a long run in cool temps and eating a warm bowl of stew! One of my favs is turkey sausage and sweet potato – YUM!!! I often think about what I’m going to eat while I’m running. I wonder if other runners do this??
    Allie Burdick recently posted..Catching Up to 2008My Profile

  5. I think our bodies naturally crave changes with those three seasons, I know mine does! Our weather here doesn’t follow the typical pattern, so a random sunny and 55F day in January will make me crave a huge salad. Then a string of rainy ones and all I’ll want is soup. It is pretty awesome!! 🙂
    Karen recently posted..Last Week: Sept 15-21My Profile

  6. I’ve been loving all of your health posts Laura! So interesting, and so much great information. I love your approach to food and health, and I’m clicking over to take that test right now! 🙂

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