It’s Spring: Diet or Align?

Spring: diet or align

It’s spring!!  Time to clean out the closet, dump the Bad Boyfriend, and most importantly… start that grueling detox.

… Or is it?

As we turn this seasonal corner from winter to spring, it’s normal to feel a desire to purge; we want to diet, detox, and get the gunk out. But often, after a strict fast, or a veggie-broth cleanse, the body wants to boomerang back to carbs and comforting foods. Sometimes the springtime detox ends up… a re-tox.

I’d like to propose an alternative: Alignment. You see, in spring, the energy changes; we transition from the heavy, relatively stagnant energy of winter to an upward, active energy: Flowers pop up. We get up earlier, requiring less sleep. The sun makes longer appearances, and our spirits are renewed. This is a big shift, and one that should be taken seriously. But instead of imposing a strict regime, we need to learn how to align with springtime energy.

Alignment means really listening to your body, and tuning in with its new needs and desires. Here are two big tips to help with springtime alignment:

  1. Lighten up your food.  This can take place a number of ways:
  • Reach Up: Choose foods that grow straight up: Bok Choy, Napa cabbage, lettuce, celery, leeks, scallions, chives, and most leafy greens have strong, upward energy. Enjoy lots of these foods, and cook them in various ways. Upward-growing foods are a tonic to your liver–which governs detoxification–so they’ll help with a gentle, natural, inner clean-out.
  • Go Green: When reaching for vegetables and fruit, emphasize the green color. According to Chinese medicine, green is the color of spring, so green foods will help you align. Of course, this includes leafy greens, but also lentils, green apples, and green grapes will feel nice in the spring. It’s important to maintain a variety in color and taste—so don’t skip the other colors–but spring is the time to emphasize green foods.
  • Go Sour: The sour taste is also a tonic to the liver, so try a squeeze of lemon on those steamed collards! A dash of apple cider vinegar, or some lightly pickled vegetables… Mm… they will help with springtime alignment.
  • Lighten up Protein: If you eat lots of meat, try to eat a little less of them, and explore some plant-based proteins, like lentils, tempeh or tofu. The liver likes plants more than meat. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you might crave a little less protein in the spring. Follow your cravings and you will get just the right amount.
  • Choose Good Fats: When you’re craving fat, reach for an avocado or some nuts. To get your oil fix, make some homemade salad dressings or try some lightly sautéed vegetables. Buy good-quality, unrefined oils, like olive, walnut, or coconut. Cheese and fried foods may feel heavy in your body, so go easy or skip them altogether.
  • Go for Whole Carbs: Instead of heavy breads and baked goods, eat whole grains, like whole barley or long-grain brown rice. Whole grains tend to speed up the metabolism, as opposed to flour products, which slow it down. Whole grains will also keep your skin clear for that new love affair you’re going to attract!
  • Enjoy Natural Sweets: If you have a sweet tooth, satisfy it with more natural sweets, like brown rice syrup or maple syrup. They will also keep your blood sugar more stable, as you open up to spring. If you lighten up with your other foods, you won’t crave strong sweets as much and these natural ones will feel satisfying.
  • Slow down on Salt: Go easy with the salt shaker, and season foods a little less. Ditto soy sauce and other salty condiments and seasonings. Salt is contracting, like winter, and spring is a time to expand.
  1. Lighten up your cooking styles:

During winter, we are attracted to long-cooked dishes. They feel warming and grounding. But with the warmer, lighter and quicker energy of spring, we need to adjust in the kitchen.

Here’s how:

  • Let go of: Baking, roasting, stews and slow-cooking. Unless you crave something hearty and grounding–and you may, on the colder days of spring—it’s time to take a break from this heavy cooking. These cooking styles are designed to pull you back to winter energy. Don’t worry, they will re-appear before next winter, but as your body busts out of hibernation, it’s best to minimize them.
  • Start to: Steam, blanche, quick-saute, juice and go raw. The lighter the cooking style, the more it will help you align with spring. Now, this doesn’t mean you never eat something that’s been cooked for a long time, but it’s time to emphasize lighter cooking styles.

When we align with spring, we don’t need to deprive ourselves. Alignment is wise, healthy, and perhaps best of all, sustainable. Here at, we are going to be talking about alignment in the kitchen throughout the year.

Let me know how it goes!

Jessica Porter is the author of The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics, and The MILF Diet.


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