Eat the Seasons - interview with Dhanya Nambiar
Images by Kenta Kikuchi from Unsplash, and Ayurveda Advisor Dhanya Nambiar
Last week we spoke to Dhanya Nambiar, certified Ayurvedic Advisor, about the spread and interest of Ayurveda through popular culture and celebrities. This week we look at the practise of "eating the seasons" and what this means from an Ayurvedic perspective.
As we become more aware of where our food comes from and how it’s grown there’s been a growing movement to “eat the seasons”. Ayurveda appears to have the same approach, given the importance it places on what we eat and when?
Dhanya: Yes, this is an example of a positive trend that is growing in some communities. We are part of nature, and just like animals and plants, we are supposed to change how we eat, sleep and live according to the seasons. We build our bodies with the food we eat, and eating seasonally is one way we can adapt to external changes. One of my favourite words from Ayurveda is the Sanskrit word used to refer to the body - sharira. It translates as “that which is continuously changing and adapting”. That is how we need to see ourselves. Observe a tree and notice how it continuously changes its size, shape and colour; it knows when to fruit, flower and fall in response to its environment. Issues such as seasonal allergies, food intolerances, seasonal affective disorders and low immunity are due to our lack of connection with the seasons.
Many traditional cultures of the world know how to live and eat seasonally. Modern lifestyles are often disconnected from nature, eating food grown overseas or from different seasons, so the body does not get exposed to the wisdom of natural adaptations through consuming predominantly local food cooked with the appropriate spices for the season.
For example, in Melbourne we are seeing lighter, green varieties of plants that tend to grow in the spring and summer months such as beans, spring onion and lettuce. This is nature’s way of telling us that we need to start lightening up and eating more greens, along with cooling spices such as fennel and coriander, and stimulating spices such as fresh ginger and black pepper, to adjust to the warmer weather and shed the heavy and wet qualities of winter.
Part of the reason people are turning to supplements is because we are not eating in this way, and we are not taking care of the earth so the food that grows is lacking nutrients. Eating locally and trying to emphasise good quality produce is another way to really benefit from eating seasonally.
I would like to add that although it is a great start to eat seasonally, we also should be conscious to eat according to our individual constitution, which is known as prakruti in Ayurveda. We each have a unique metabolism, digestion and personality, and knowing the prakruti can empower people to make better choices for themselves, rather than following generic trends such as taking 10,000 steps or eating 1,500 calories a day. One man’s medicine is another man’s poison - that has certainly been my experience!
Next week we ask Dhanya our signature question on her "thoughts about superfoods".
Dhanya Nambiar is the founder of Prana Ayurveda, and a certified Ayurvedic Health Advisor through the Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga School. With a PhD in public health and a decade of research in mental health and addiction, Dhanya’s vision for Prana is to empower individuals to find their true state of wellness in mind, body and spirit through simple, everyday practices. Having personally healed from chronic inflammation and weak digestion through Ayurveda, she discovered how making adjustments to food and lifestyle brought changes within weeks – more energy, clarity around what her body needed and most importantly a positive relationship with herself. That’s what she wants to share with others to help them discover their plan for balance and longevity. Find out more at Prana Ayurveda or follow her on Instagram @prana_with_dhanya.