We see ripe, cool fruits like melons and peaches in stores; the sun has peeked out several times in the past month. This can only mean one thing… Summer is almost here!
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), each new season brings us to a new dietary regimen – and summertime is no exception. Every season we change what we eat based on what is in season. That can be tougher in winter, but summer brings an abundance of delicious, fresh fruits, veggies, and more for you and I to feast on!
Why Eat Seasonal Foods?
A major part of the philosophy in TCM is that we should allow Qi to flow through us. However, Qi isn’t just trapped within your body, providing you with energy. It flows through all things in the world, from a drop of rain to that piece of watermelon on which you’re snacking. Every part of the environment is made of energy and is therefore made of Qi.
So, instead of chowing down on apples that have been in cold storage since last fall, with their Qi frozen in place, it’s better to crunch through seasonal snap peas or enjoy a juicy bite of nectarine. These fruits and vegetables are still vibrant with life; their Qi flows through you as you eat and helps you regain energy and enjoy a bright, sunshiny day.
Summer is the heart season and the color is red. So, be sure to pay attention to all of the ripe, red varieties of the season. Think strawberries, cherries, and tomatoes!
Fortunately for us, there is always something delicious in season here in the Pacific Northwest. In the fall and winter we have root veggies, some mushrooms, and even some fruit. In the spring and summer the world seems filled with every kind of fruit and vegetable. In “You Pick” farms it appears that you have barely turned your back to a strawberry plant before more ripe berries peak out from behind green leaves.
Enjoy that Summer Sizzle
We focus on the heart and small intestine during summer. It’s also a time to cultivate your Yin energy, which can be done through vigorous metabolic function. So, this summer make sure you are not only staying hydrated with all of the seasonal summer goodies available to you but that you are enjoying activities outdoors. Head out on a cool, tree covered hike, enjoy Portland’s incredible parks, and have fun on one of those adult-sized water slides that we have here during this time of year. Increasing your metabolic activity and enjoying the longer days will only benefit your physical and mental health.
Here are a few more summer-centered tips that you can follow to boost your health this season:
- Stay hydrated both with water and with cool seasonal foods like tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, watermelon, bok choy, and peas.
- Enjoy fresh and local fruits and veggies – not just foods that have been shipped in from California and Mexico.
- If you are a meat eater, try lighter fare like fish and seafood.
- Make “spa water” by adding slices of cucumber and lemon to your water. You can brighten it up even more by adding a sprig of mint or a drop of your favorite essential oil. Peppermint also has a natural cooling effect – and has the added benefit of aiding in digestion.
- Eat thoughtfully. It’s easy to overindulge in summer – instead, try to eat light meals only until you are full.
- Sleep as the sun does – wake up earlier in the morning and go to bed a bit later in the evening.
- Experiment with spices!
- Stay away from the greasy, heavy foods traditional to summer. Instead of tossing a burger on the grill, make salmon on cedar planks.
Are you hoping to improve your diet and your health this summer? Connect with me here at Attunement Acupuncture. I’m happy to provide you with the right traditional Chinese medicine advice and technique for your health challenge.