Eating According to The Season of Summer
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), one of the common methods of preventing disease and maintaining good health is to eat according to the seasons. The Chinese have the belief that we are what we eat and most of the dietary consumption follows the shifts of nature. TCM philosophies says that if we eat seasonal foods that are similar to the environment at the time, we can remain in harmony with nature, adapt to changes in the season and stay healthy.
Summer represents activity and movement, the outward expression of energy, and expansion. According to Chinese Medicine, summer correlates with the Fire element. The Fire element controls the Heart (Shen) and Small Intestine. The color associated with summer is red and the emotion is joy. This season is the most yang season of them all. This is the season where we express what we have been cultivating all spring. During this time we want to focus on expanding, growing, and manifesting all of our goals that we cultivated throughout the previous seasons. We should also include joy, laughter and passion in our daily activities during this season. It is good to rise early during the summer to take advantage of the rays of the sun which is very nourishing to our heart's energy since its the most abundant during this time.
When the heart is well-balanced, the mind is at ease and we can get to sleep easily, sleep without waking during the night and wake well-rested. When the Heart is imbalanced, we tend to lack the emotion of the Heart which is joy (this is commonly manifested as depression) or the Heart imbalance can also manifest as excess joy (this is commonly manifested as anxiety, insomnia, agitation, restlessness, manic behavior or mania). Because the Shen needs rest, it is common to have sleep disorders when the heart is imbalanced. Some other manifestations of heart imbalance are speech problems, poor concentration and memory, red complexion, nervousness.
Because summer is the season with the most abundant yang (heat energy), we want to stay well hydrated and cool. We should focus on protecting the Heart in the summer due to the heat that can easily put stress on the Heart leading to sores, irritability, anxiety, insomnia and restlessness. Some foods beneficial to eat during the summer are apricots, peaches, lotus root, tomato, carrots, grapefruit, adzuki beans, lemon, cherry, mulberry, lean meats (such as duck, chicken, and pork), green tea, matcha, oolong tea, watermelon, winter melon, honeydew melon, water chesnut, chrysanthemum, bitter melon, radish, eggplant. You should limit intake of foods such as fried foods, spicy foods including hot spices, aromatic foods, ginger, pepper, chili, and sodium. This will seem counter-productive to some, but its important to limit extreme cold foods as this can damage the yang qi and cause dampness to occur. With that being said, avoid eating too many frozen foods such as pop-sickles, ice cream and frozen smoothies. Moderation is key. This also means that we don't want to eat fruits and vegetable that are too cold and raw. It is recommended to utilize cooking methods such as stir-frying, steaming, and poaching.
Here is a recipe for the Summer season.
LEMONY SUMMER PEAS WITH MINT
This light, lemony “salad” is full of healthy nutrients, fiber, and protein. Peas are used as a treatment for constipation and therefore help to move what is “stuck” in the body. Red pepper, like all red foods, support your Heart function.
This recipe was created and provided by https://www.tcmworld.org/recipes/lemony-summer-peas-with-mint/
Written by Natural Flow of Life Acupuncture and Herbs
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M.S.TCM, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac. / Owner of Natural Flow of Life Acupuncture and Herbs