I’m lucky enough to have extended my summer by a couple of sunny weeks in the South of France but I’m quite aware that after a most glorious summer, Autumn has been knocking at our door early in the UK and other parts of Europe. The change of seasons are taken very seriously in Ayurveda and especially so the turn from summer to autumn and from winter to spring. The subtle and not so subtle changes in our environments are said to have a profound impact on our bodies and temperaments and I must say that I wasn’t surprised when I first learned of this, it explained a lot of my sluggishness, low mood and the small ailments I seemed to face come the cooler and airy months.
Just as you should follow a pitta soothing diet and lifestyle during the summer or “pitta season” and follow each season’s best practises to support optimum health and well being; it is also important to support the mind-body system with special routines during the change of the seasons.
This is best done with cleansing and detoxing the body, ridding it of toxins (Ama) and rebooting your metabolism (Agni). A better definition for Ama is any food or substance that the body has not fully digested or absorbed and is left clogging the system. Agni refers to our internal fire, our digestive system, the ability for our mind and body to absorb and transform what it ingests into what we become – we are quite literally what we eat and digestion is probably “the” cornerstone of Ayurveda. Good digestion is considered absolutely essential to good health and most illnesses can be tracked back to poor digestion, poor care of our digestion or poor quality food.
You will benefit from detoxing the most if you’re feeling heavy, are congested, suffer from seasonal depression, allergies, skin problems or a generic feeling of cloudiness and blah. A good detox programme will have a period of preparation, say a week, followed by a week of detox proper then a week of rehabilitation where you start reintroducing some of the foods you’d excluded on the cleanse. This is the period of healthy nourishment after the purge.
The ideal time to start such a programme is around the mid-October (I am giving you an early heads up) as you are likely to still feel the impact of accumulated summer heat in the body and environment in the earlier autumn period which you should balance with cooling foods.
A good detox will also provide a schedule of activities and advice about exercise and your overall day’s routine rather than just tell you what to eat. But for today I just want to offer you a couple of simple methods you could use if you’re strapped for time.
If you have just one day I would suggest a full day cleanse following a kitchari diet (yes I did say a full day, breakfast, lunch & dinner and obviously no snacking inbetween). Kitchari is a bit of a miracle cure when it comes to detoxing. It’s an Indian recipe based on basmati rice and dhal (mung beans), see the recipe below. It is said to be healing, rekindling for Agni/your metabolism and nourishing for the tissues and immune system. It is easy to digest which means your body will spend less energy on supporting the digestive system and will be able to clear more Ama/toxins/residues. Kitchari is alkaline, the herbs (coriander, fennel, cumin, turmeric and ginger) make it anti-inflammatory and blood cleansing. It is a complete protein with all the essential amino acids and will sustain you and curb cravings.
Kitchari is balancing for all the doshas. Vata types and most Pitta types will find it very nourishing but Kapha’s and healthy Pitta’s may find much benefit from a 1-day detox based on purely ingesting liquid – this meaning that they can take any (healthy) food they would like but in a liquid form. The 1 day liquid diet can be done weekly or whenever you feel a need for cleansing. It will rev’ up your system and help with weight issues.
Give these a try and let me know what you think here.
Ingredients for your kitchari:
Basmati rice, split mung dhal, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, fresh ginger, turmeric powder, coconut oil or ghee, natural rock salt, squash, peas or green beans, lime or lemon (all ingredients should ideally be fresh, organic, from a good source, powdered herbs & seeds in good shelf date). You will probably need to buy the dhal from a specialist health food store.
Soak the Dhal overnight
Melt 1tblsp ghee or coconut oil
Add a 1/4 of teaspoon of cumin, coriander, fennel seeds and grated fresh ginger until they slightly roast
Add 2 cups of the beans (dhal) you have soaked overnight and then rinsed
Add 1 cup of rice
Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder and stir
Add 8 cups of boiling water, stir and bring to boil again
Add a pinch of salt
Add squash cut in cubes, peas or green beans volume to taste
When the rice and beans are cooked through and creamy, turn off the heat & allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice to nourish all the 6 tastes.
Eat in a calm, beautiful environment if you can and switch off from all other activities. Enjoy!
(Check out banyanbotanicals.com for a free downloadable detox based on your dosha incl. bi- and tri-doshic advice & an extensive list of the benefits you might notice)