Late Summer Eating

Posted on Friday, September 13, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Summer is ending, and it seems as though fall is near. But did you know that according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we are actually in a fifth season known as “late summer?” It is middle of the Chinese calendar, the time when the earth transitions from its more Yang nature to Yin – the time between the expansive growth of spring and summer to the cooler more dormant qualities of fall and winter. It is the season of balance. This season encompasses the last month of summer and the fifteen days surrounding each equinox and solstice. In TCM, it corresponds with the Earth element.
The Earth element governs the organs of the spleen, pancreas and stomach. When these organs are healthy we have a sense of harmony and balance. We are nurturing to ourselves and others. We are strong, practical and hard working.
To attune ourselves to this season, eat foods that are harmonizing or represent the center. Foods that are mildly sweet, yellow or golden in color and round in shape are very helpful. Incorporate organic corn (most conventionally grown corn comes from genetically modified seeds and therefore not recommended), carrots, cabbage, garbanzo beans, squash, potatoes, string beans, yams, organic soy (no GMO’s), sweet potatoes, rice, millet, amaranth, peas, chestnuts, filberts, apricots, and cantaloupe. It is no coincidence that these are the foods that are currently in season. When preparing foods, use minimal seasoning, and avoid too many ingredients.

But what if your spleen, pancreas , and stomach are out of balance? Symptoms of an imbalance in this system include general fatigue and weakness, loose stools or diarrhea, food sensitivities, nervous indigestion, trouble losing or gaining weight, ulcers, anemia, and organ prolapses. Emotionally, you may get overwhelmed easily. You worry excessively, or you may feel like you are “stuck” in your life. If you have any of the above conditions, avoid foods that are cold in temperature or cooling in nature. In addition to the foods mentioned above, pungent vegetables and warming spices such as onions, leeks, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, garlic and nutmeg are very healing. Many contain anti- inflammatory properties.
Lastly, when you eat, sit at the table free from distractions. Do not read or watch television. Chew your food thoroughly. Smaller and more frequent meals may be helpful. Remember food should be no cooler than room temperature. Foods should be at least moderately well cooked.
Following these steps along with gentle exercises such as qi gong and tai chi, will do wonders in helping you achieve balance and harmony. Be well.
Certified Qi Gong Therapist

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