Eating seasonally according to TCM. Synchronising your diet with the seasons is certainly not a new concept. Before the arrival of supermarkets, humans grew their own food, foraged or hunted and used what was available to them at the time. With technologically advanced, things are now very different. Our food has been engineered for convenience, rather than entrusted to nature and the seasons.
Wisdom gained from the traditional teaching of Chinese Medicine tells us that certain organs can become more active or sensitive at different times throughout the year and if we do not adapt to the seasons accordingly, we can experience symptoms such as feeling lethargic, bloated, or may have an increased tendency to hayfever and colds and flus.
Each new season is a time of growth, rebirth and new beginnings. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) says that eating in accordance with the season can reap you health benefits.
Based on the ancient concept of Yin and Yang—which make up the life essence known as Qi—half of certain organs and meridians are governed by Yin and the other half by Yang. When Yin and Yang are out of balance in the body, you are not achieving optimum health.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is considered a time of rebirth and growth. The liver and the gallbladder are the organs of the season, a diet tailored to support these two organs are going to be the best choice for spring. Of course the liver is responsible for detoxification within the body, so incorporating foods that contribute to this process is ideal.
Foods to focus on:
- Leafy green vegetables like kale
- Bitter greens like dandelion and parsley
- Milk thistle tea for its cleansing properties
- Sour foods like lemon and lime supports liver detoxification
- Sprouts like alfalfa and broccoli
According to TCM, summer is the most ‘yang’ (which represents fire) of all of the seasons, and this can quickly lead to imbalance. Because of the hot, drying weather, the best foods for summer are soothing and cooling.
Foods to focus on:
- Cucumbers, strawberries, lettuce, celery, and pears are hydrating foods and are especially good in dry heat
- Avoid eating really cold food and drinks, even on a super hot day. Cold constricts the flow of QI (life force) especially if you suffer from muscular pain, stomach pains or period pains
- Eat in moderation. Over consumption of any food, can lead to indigestion and sluggishness
- Try switching coffee for green tea or peppermint tea
Autumn is a season of distinct transition from the yang-summer to yin-winter. Warming, slow-cooked meals will support your emotional and physical health. Focus on the season’s organs – the lungs and large intestine.
Foods to focus on:
- Seasonal fruits and vegetables like pears, figs, pumpkin, apples and brussel sprouts
- Ginger, leeks, mushrooms, garlic and radishes will all help to nourish the lungs
- Quinoa, rice and oats are the perfect grains for this transitional season
With such high levels of yin (water) during winter, your diet needs to be tailored in order to support the kidneys which in TCM, is the root of all of our energies.
Foods to incorporate:
- Unsurprisingly, foods should always be cooked and warm
- Black beans and lentils will nourish your kidneys
- Include warming spices to your cooking like cinnamon, cumin, ginger
- Ginger tea will nourish body and soul – try our warming herbal tea
- Potatoes, pumpkin, Brussel sprouts, beets, parsnips and turnips are great for roasting or including in slow-cooked soups and stews
For more information on “Eating seasonally eating according to TCM” or to book a naturopathic consultation please contact Beata at B inspired healthy lifestyle.0