The most basic summer diet plan typically includes more fresh fruits and veggies (think salads and smoothies), and less heavy comfort foods (like casseroles and stews).
It’s pretty easy to make the switch, and you might even already have a habit of doing it subconsciously every year during the change of season without even realizing it.
But the thing is, you don’t really have to.
In today’s modern era, foods that aren’t in season or unable to grow in your location are shipped in from suppliers all year round, so you never have to wait until next year’s harvest or travel far and wide across the globe for certain foods.
You can go to the grocery store and pick up every ingredient you need to make a piping hot pot of curry chicken and rice—or stop by the local Freshii to grab an energizing green eggs and kale bowl.
Everything is ultra convenient and readily available, so why would you ever choose to eat more summer-friendly foods anyway?
Good question! Let’s dive deeper into the wonderful world of food and its connection to the seasons.
Why Should You Adjust Your Diet for the Summer?
You might think that as long as you’re making healthy choices overall, everything should be great.
You should be able to lose weight, tone up, feel more energized, get rid of bloating, sleep better at night, and all that other stuff that’s expected from adopting a healthy diet, right?
Seems legit… in a perfect world, at least.
So let me ask you this: Do you now or anytime during the summer season experience any of the following symptoms?
- Intense hunger and thirst
- Unsatisfied cravings
- Digestive problems (nausea, indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, bloating, loose stool, diarrhea, etc.)
- Excessive sweating, sometimes accompanied by strong body odour
- General inflammation (skin, joints, muscles, digestive organs, etc.)
- Heavier than normal periods
- Irritability or short temperedness
- Egoism, sarcasm, envy, or competitiveness
- Feeling close to physical or mental burnout
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
If you do, you could what’s called a “Pitta” imbalance—according to Ayurveda.
What in the World Is Ayurveda and Why Is It Even Important for a Summer Diet Plan?
Ayurveda is a 3,000 year-old ancient Indian holistic healing system (also known as yoga’s sister science) based on the belief that the mind, body, and spirit must be in balance for optimal health.
Although it’s used as a form of alternative medicine today, many scientific studies have shown clear evidence of its effects on healing both the mind and body.
But Ayurveda doesn’t stop there.
This ancient healing system is also based off of the belief that everything in the universe is inherently connected.
With this in mind, Ayurveda basically tells us that to live out of sync with nature also means to live out of sync with ourselves.
Just like all of our bodily functions follow a cyclical rhythm (a.k.a. the 24-hour circadian rhythm), so too does nature itself—of course, by way of the annual cycle of the four seasons.
When we align our habits with the current season, we naturally feel more balanced.
Ayurveda and Summer Pitta Season
According to Ayurveda, everything in the universe is made of of a unique combination of five basic elements—earth, fire, water, air, and space (ether).
You are also made of these elements, and your unique combination was given to you at birth.
Depending on which elements are most dominant in you, your mind-body type or “dosha” can be determined.
There are three mind-body types or doshas:
- Pitta (fire and water)
- Kaha (water and earth)
- Vata (air and space/ether)
Each mind-body type or dosha is characterized by specific physical, mental, and emotional expressions.
As the seasons change, so too does the balance of the five elements in nature, which can either aggravate or harmonize the physical, mental, and emotional expressions of your dominant dosha.
Summer is Pitta season, characterized by a stronger fire element interwoven with water. Earth, air, and space are weaker during this peak time of heat and humidity.
Regardless of what your dominant dosha is, you can still be very affected by the other two.
So even if you’re more of a Vata or Kapha person, Pitta imbalances—which are most common in summer obviously because summer is Pitta season—can wreak havoc on your mind, body, and emotions.
When your Pitta dosha is balanced, you’ll have:
- A normal, healthy appetite and thirst level
- Balanced hormones and enzymes
- Healthy digestion and regular bowel movements
- Minimal or no signs of inflammation
- A radiant, glowing complexion with no excessive oiliness
- Mental clarity for enhanced intelligence and courage
- Increased decisiveness and productivity
- Peaceful and restful sleep at night
Why a Pitta-Balancing Diet Makes a Good Summer Diet Plan
Pitta governs the energy of digestion and metabolism.
If your digestion is off and your metabolism is sluggish, you’re going to have a harder time absorbing nutrients from the food you eat, maximizing your calorie burns, and feeling energized enough to work out.
Pitta imbalances also mean hormonal imbalances, which is bad news if you’re trying to burn fat and lose weight.
Maintaining a calorie deficit for weight loss won’t do anything for you if your hormones aren’t balanced first.
And if you can’t sleep at night, or find yourself plagued with strong emotions characterized by irritability, then you’re more likely to make bad decisions that might compromise your health even further.
Following a Pitta balancing diet is a powerful way to restore and reharmonize all of the millions of subtle chemical reactions occurring in your mind and body this summer season.
You won’t just get better health results. You’ll just feel better overall, too.
Here are 26 summer diet plan tips that for you to follow that also integrate some of the most important Pitta balancing methods.
1. Forget about crash diets with super restrictive rules.
When your willpower is high and you’ve got all those healthy goals in mind that you’d love to achieve by the end of the summer, it’s tempting to immediately want to make a drastic switch from your regular diet to a super restrictive diet overnight.
But I can almost guarantee that this will backfire on you.
If you’re used to eating casually, but then suddenly start living off of nothing but green smoothies and salads all day, every day—your mind and body will eventually start to retalliate.
And since willpower is a finite resource that requires constant replenishment upon depletion, those low willpower periods will be a struggle.
A Pitta-pacifying diet should be done in a gradual shift. This way, you won’t overwhelm your mind with rules to follow or your body with restrictions.
2. Clean out as many highly processed foods from your kitchen as you can.
Processed foods aren’t ideal no matter what the season, but in summer, it’s especially important to limit processed foods that are pungent/spicy, salty, sour, and hot.
Chips, salsas, cans of chilli, and microwaveable comfort food dinners are a few examples of what you might want to get rid of or possibly donate to a local food bank, if they’re unopened.
3. Stay well hydrated.
Summer Pitta season is characterized by heat, oiliness, sharpness, lightness, and liquidity.
There’s a delicate balance to be achieved between the fire and water elements that are dominant during Pitta season.
On one hand, you definitely want to be drinking water frequently and consuming fresh, raw fruits and vegetables that arehigh in water content to help beat the heat.
On the other hand, you’ll want to limit super liquidy foods like vegetable soups in favour of drier, denser foods like steamed vegetables and whole grain rice.
4. Avoid drinking ice-cold water (or other beverages).
Here’s one more important thing to remember about staying hydrated throughout the summer.
It seems to make sense to beat the heat with water or other beverages that have been chilled in the fridge or with ice, but believe it or not, this can put a HUGE damper on your metabolic fire.
You want to stay energized throughout the summer, so your best bet is to drink water and other beverages at room temperature to stay hydrated without a flame-snuffing effect.
Fruits and vegetables dense in water should also be brought to room temperature first before you eat them if you typically store them in the fridge.
5. Get a calorie counting app not just for counting, but for educating yourself.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to counting calories.
Personally, I find it to be the most helpful for simply learning about how many calories certain foods typically contain as well as their macronutrient content (protein, fat, carbs).
However, inputting every single food item you plan to eat into an app and abiding by a numbers rule every single day is no long-term strategy.
When you track calories on a casual basis, however, you naturally gain knowledge of how much you typically eat in a day and where you might be able to improve.
There are tons of calorie counting apps out there, but I love Chronometer for its sleek, intuitive interface and massive database of over 300,000 food items.
6. Find out what fruits and veggies are in season, and stock up!
Eating in season isn’t just good for your body—it’s great for your wallet too!
As an added bonus, you’ll most likely be supporting local farmers at the same time.
You can check out the USDA’s Seasonal Produce Guide for a general overview of what’s in season if you live in the U.S.
You might also want to do a search for your local area too. For instance, I live in Ontario, Canada, so I’d be better off looking at Foodland Ontario’s Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables Availability Guide.
7. Focus on eating more foods that are naturally sweet, bitter, and astringent qualities.
Eating foods with these three qualities will help keep Pitta properly balanced.
Sweet foods include fruits, grains, yogurt, milk, ghee, coconut, avocados, root vegetables, and summer squashes.
Bitter foods include leafy greens, green vegetables like asparagus, some herbs like cilantro, fruits like grapefruit, and extra dark chocolate.
Astringent foods are trickier to identify.
The simplest way to identify them is by their slightly more dry, chalky taste with heavy, cold qualities to them—like most beans, cranberries, apples, pomegranate, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, and parsley.
8. Seriously, don’t be afraid of eating fruit.
I know, I know—fruits have a lot of natural sugars and therefore lots of carbs.
Anyone who’s following a very low-carb diet (like the keto diet, for example) might be extremely weary of fruits, and maybe that’s fine for you if you’re focused on limiting carbs.
But I have to say that if you’re going to enjoy more fruit any time of the year, then it should be in the summer.
It’s EXTREMELY unlikely that fruit will lead to weight gain. You simply can’t eat enough of them in their fresh, natural states to increase body fat.
Fruit is also a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
If I were anyone following an extremely low-carb diet right now, I’d put my keto diet on hold until at least the fall so I could enjoy more summer fruits without the guilt.
9. Balance summer’s drying qualities with healthy fats and oils.
I mentioned earlier that Pitta is characterized by oiliness, so you might be wondering why I might suggest including more healthy oils during this time.
The thing is, to combat summer’s drying effects, consuming healthy, cooling oils can really help.
The trick is to choose high-quality oils (coconut, avocado, olive, etc.) or ghee and minimize heating them. This also goes for fatty, oily foods like eggs, cheese, and nuts.
The fatty, oily foods you’ll want to really limit include fried foods—either homemade or those that you might get at a food truck or fast food place.
10. Limit your consumption of warming foods.
As you focus on eating more balancing sweet, bitter and astringent foods, you should also be minimizing foods that create warmth.
These are typically foods that are pungent/spicy, sour, and spicy.
Limit foods like chilies/hot peppers, radishes, raw onions, turnips, tomatoes, soy sauce, hot sauce, garlic, cayenne, pickled foods, red wine, and some sour dairy products like sour cream and buttermilk.
11. Don’t skip breakfast.
Since summer is a high-energy season, a Pitta-pacifying summer diet plan typically doesn’t involve skipping breakfast. Even something small can go a long way.
To help energize you in the morning, you can load up on more carbohydrate-rich foods.
Good choices include fruit salad, fruit with Greek yogurt, fruit/veggie smoothies (without ice or frozen fruits), oatmeal, or egg and avocado on whole grain toast.
12. Make lunch your main meal of the day.
Lunch should ideally be your largest and most nutritious meal.
In the summer, it’s a good idea to make at least one of your daily meals a big salad with lots of raw greens and cooling veggies (and fruits if you like).
Lunch is perfect for this. I personally love to grab a huge mixing bowl and throw a bunch of salad greens in it with my favorite chopped veggies (bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, avocado) and pieces of precooked chicken breast.
Then I top it off with crumbled goat cheese and dressing made of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
13. Go slightly lighter for dinner.
You don’t have to have a small dinner, but ideally it should be smaller than what you have for lunch.
You can still enjoy summer favourites—like veggie/turkey burgers on whole wheat buns with a side of homemade baked sweet potato fries.
14. Consider taking a protein supplement to support muscle gain/maintenance.
If you’re trying to lose weight and/or tone up, then you’ll need to consume enough protein.
To find out your minimum protein requirements, use your lean body mass in pounds to consume the same amount of protein in grams. (i.e., 120 lbs of lean body mass = 120 grams of protein).
If you’re in a calorie deficit, however, you might need more.
In this case, you might want to aim to use your total body weight in pounds to consume the same amount of protein in grams. (i.e., 147 lbs total body weight = 147 grams of protein).
15. Drink tea.
You might assume that tea should be limited in a Pitta-pacifying summer diet plan for being too liquidy and warming, but some herbal teas can actually help balance Pitta more than aggravate it—as long as you don’t drink it too hot.
Good herbal tea choices to soothe Pitta include fennel, mint, dandelion, chicory, and hibiscus.
Green tea is also a good choice for its antioxidant content and aid in helping the body naturally detoxify itself of excess estrogen.
16. Eat more cruciferous vegetables.
Speaking of detoxification, cruciferous vegetables can also help the body maximize elimination of excess estrogen.
Estrogens are basically chemicals that we can’t avoid because they’re everywhere. They’re in all of our non-organic foods, cosmetics, detergents, cleaning products, clothing, and even tap water.
Too much estrogen in the body can throw your hormones out of whack, which is bad news for women like me who are naturally prone to being estrogen dominant (characterized by higher amounts of lower body fat, cellulite, PMS, and menstrual cramps).
Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, and swiss chard are high in idol-3-carbinol (I3C), which have a neutralizing effect on strong estrogens, help the body to metabolize them more effectively, and prevent them from building up.
Eating more cruciferous vegetables will make it much easier for you to burn fat and lose weight, if you’re trying too—with the added bonus of also possibly helping to protect you from certain types of cancer too.
17. Limit starchy carbs to 3 to 10 bites per meal, but don’t make an enemy out of them.
Carbs aren’t the bad guy you might’ve been led to believe they are, but if you’re trying to burn fat and lose weight specifically, then yes, too many carbs can be a problem due to the insulin spiking effect they tend to have.
The thing is, some people can handle more carbs than others. Which means you’ll have to figure out what works best for you.
In the Metabolic Effect book, I discovered the simplest and most realistic way to track carbs: in bites.
If you’re relatively sensitive to carbs, you might want to try eating less of them—say, three bites. If you’re not, you might be able to go as far as 10 bites. And if you’re somewhere in the middle, you might stop at five.
Bites also apply to how refined or starchy carbs are. For instance, you should probably have fewer bites of mashed potatoes (lower in fiber), but you might be able to enjoy more bites of 100% natural/organic oat bran (higher in fiber).
18. Try eating smaller meals and snacks more often to help keep your blood sugar stable.
I used to be in the habit of skipping breakfast and fasting all morning until sometime between 11:00 a.m. and noon. The only thing I’d have was water with freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 to 3 cups of coffee.
Several minutes after I’d finally eat, I’d notice my heart rate would increase (among other sensations I felt that suggested my blood sugar was spiking).
Once that was over, I’d feel tired and sluggish.
This would all happen quite regularly—even from a late, healthy breakfast of oat bran with flaxseed, whey protein isolate, and apple slices.
The moral of the story is that if you go too long between meals (in my case it was 14 to 16 hours), you might experience an insulin spike—especially if you eat a lot.
This is a bad thing if you’re trying to burn fat and lose weight. If weight loss is your goal, you’ll want to keep your blood sugar as stable as possible.
What’s more, Pitta is associated with a sharp appetite that can potentially lead to binges if you go too long between meals.
This is why it’s better to stick to a consistent eating schedule as closely as possible, with plenty of healthy snacks in between meals.
19. Eat more probiotic-rich foods to help with digestion.
Summer is the time to really take care of your digestive system, and one of the best ways to do that is by helping the good bacteria balance out the bad bacteria in your gut.
Probiotics are live bacteria that do all the magic.
Good probiotic-rich foods for summer include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha (black or green tea).
You can get your daily dose of probiotics in supplement form if that’s the option you’d prefer.
20. Limit alcohol consumption to one drink per week (or none at all).
Alcoholic drinks are typically loaded with calories (especially those fruity cocktails we all love in the summer) and act as a fat burning suppressor—making it doubly hard to burn fat and lose weight if you drink regularly.
The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to eliminate alcohol altogether.
An occasional glass of white wine or beer once a week is fine keeping Pitta in check, but avoid red wine especially during the summer months.
21. Turn your barbecue into a lean, mean protein and veggie grilling machine!
Summer is BBQ season, and that’s a great opportunity to try a few new grilling recipes that actually get you excited about eating more lean meats and healthy vegetables.
I already mentioned veggie/turkey burgers, but there are so many other ideas. I personally love grilling shish kabobs with a combo of sliced veggies, chicken, shrimp, and even steak.
You can also wrap fresh fish fillets and veggies in tinfoil to throw on the grill for a quick and easy dinner meal.
22. Give yourself at least two hours between your last meal and your bedtime.
Feeling the effects of this high-energy season combined longer days in the summer makes it seem natural to want to stay up later—but this doesn’t necessarily mean you should be having your last meal late at night.
There aren’t any solid rules about not eating at night, but if we have to generalize about it, a two-hour time period is probably a good idea—at least when it comes to the time that separates your last bite of dinner and the time you decide to hit the hay.
You’ll simply sleep better and deeper when you’re not still digesting a bunch of food.
23. If you have to snack at night, make it something that includes lean protein and complex carbs.
Like I said, there are no solid rules set in stone about not eating at night.
Not eating at night is more about maintaining smooth digestion and promoting good sleep than it is about burning fat and losing weight.
After all, whether you eat something earlier or later, you’re still consuming the same amount of calories in the end.
If you find yourself feeling hungry at night, then it’s fine to have a light snack.
Have a few slices of avocado with cottage cheese, an apple with nut butter, or a bowl of high-fibrer, low-sugar cereal with milk.
24. Consider cycling your macros and/or calories by eating more on more active days and less on rest days.
Chances are you’re going to have days where your workouts are intense and your activity periods are prolonged—followed by days of rest.
On those days of more intense and longger periods of activity, you’re going to need more carbohydrates to keep you going. On rest days you can do with less, but you can up the protein to help repair tired muscles.
The metabolism is an adaptable mechanism, so despite what a calorie counting app might tell you about your daily calorie limit, it can actually be dramatically different in real life.
It can even boosted for hours to as long as a day after a very active period thanks to the “after burn” effect.
25. Let yourself have anything you want for one meal a week.
The best Pitta-pacifying summer diet plan is one that’s balanced—not restricted.
This essentually means that yes, you can totally have that ridiculously processed and fatty street meat sausage, or that helping of poutine covered in loads of glorious cheese curds and gravy… ONCE in a while.
I’d sat that once a week, it’s absolutely essential to treat yo’ self.
You can’t undo a week’s worth of good eating habits with one bad meal—as long as you don’t overdo it on portions. (Have one street meat sausage instead of two, or order the medium-sized poutine instead of the extra large).
If you don’t do this, all that restriction could lead to an unplanned and uncontrollable binge later on.
So really, you’re doing yourself a favour by just accepting that you can’t always be perfect.
And really, why would you wanna be?
26. Never punish yourself by eating very little the day after going overboard on calories or eating “bad” foods.
Last but not least, I absolutely MUST emphasize that trying to “make up for” a splurge the day after it happened is no way to stick to a good summer diet plan (or any diet plan at all, for that matter).
This type of behaviour comes from self-loathing, guilt ,and shame—not self-love, kindness, and compassion. In other words, you’re trying to change who you are rather than trying to improve who you are.
The truth is that if you never find a way to accept reality when you splurge and be able to forgive yourself, you’re always going to stay stuck in that cycle of self-criticism and self-punishment.
And like I mentioned in the previous tip, punishing yourself by restriction has its way of backfiring on you.
Trust me, EVERYONE splurges. And when you inevitibly do, wouldn’t you rather enjoy it instead of hate yourself for it?
The day after a splurge or even a total binge, just let it go and get back to eating healthy again—with NO drastic restrictions in meals or calories.
Your Final Summer Diet Plan Tip: Eat to Live, Don’t Live to Eat
There are a lot of things to remember when it comes to eating healthy—whether its for fat loss, muscle gain, weight maintenance, or whatever.
But life is seriously too short to get all neurotic about it.
If you ever notice yourself becoming seriously anxious or upset about meal planning, carbs, protein, calories, eating at night, or attending events where food is being served—then it’s time to back off and take care of your mental attitude toward food first.
It should feel like your healthy eating habits easily compliment and flow along with your life.
If they don’t, you might be trying to change too many things at once or make too big of a change for your current habits.
Remember there’s no perfect diet plan to follow, and nobody is perfect at keeping their healthy eating habits up 24/7 for the rest of their lives.
Make gradual shifts, make a commitment to learning from your experiences, and be kind to yourself along the way.
That’s all there is to it.