Chinese Medicine: How to Eat in Late Summer & Rest from Choice
5 Minute Read: Chinese Medicine, holistic health, seasonal eating, seasonal alignment, eating right for summer.
Late August. Here in Victoria, I’m missing the sounds of geese on Kootenay Lake. Sure, they're around all year. But there's something special about their melancholy calls in late summer and early fall – especially at dawn on a mountain lake.
A sign of reflection and focusing inward. A sign of things turning again...circling back to the more yin part of the year and our lives.
I savour this passage between seasons...and cherish the quieter, more introspective months to come. Fall is truly my favourite, and the weeks ahead feel full of sweet sadness…and possibility.
Moving towards September means adjusting how we live and eat, feeling out the transition in weather and life rhythms...then planning routines accordingly.
Farmer's market veggies are still abundant, but on cooler nights a warm soup feels like home. Apples, gourds and winter squashes will be coming in season soon...as will sweaters and wool socks. (Truthfully, here in Vic, I’ve been wearing them happily all summer!)
In Chinese Medicine, eating and living with the seasons is an important part of staying healthy.
For each season, Chinese classics offer sage guidance for what to cultivate in our lives...and what to put on our plates.
What’s this mean in late summer?
In Chinese Medicine, any transition between seasons offers a time of rest and preparation for what's to come. When it comes to late summer, all the more so.
In late summer, the classics counsel finding rhythms and cycles that create simplicity.
We're to cultivate routines and patterns that are harmonious and uncomplicated.
It's also the season of natural, centring movement. Think walking, breathing, meditation, yoga and tai chi.
What’s this have to do with food?
A lot, actually. In Chinese Medicine, we don’t separate food and eating from the rest of life...or from wider patterns of living and being.
What’s on our plate in late summer is part of the bigger picture of seasonal attunement. This attunement – in all aspects – supports health and vitality throughout the year.
In late summer, as in every season, individual factors come into play too. In other words, eating seasonally is just one variable to consider when crafting your optimal diet. When I work with clients one-on-one, I take many variables, including personal goals, into account. That said...
Four sage guidelines for late summer go this way...
1. Late summer is a time to keep food extra-simple.
Embrace minimalist food rules featuring unfussy basics on repeat and rotation. Keep flavours relatively mild...and avoid complicated dishes and combinations.
Think easy soups and squash porridges. Eat for simple, comforting nourishment.
2. Moderate cooking times and temperatures.
Cooking time and temperature affect whether foods are warming or cooling (meaning, their thermal influence on the body after eating).
Late summer is a time to avoid extremes: Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right.
3. Incorporate yellow-orange veggies, tubers and gourds.
In Chinese Medicine, these are tonics for the "Earth" organs. These organs have their moment in late summer and are central to digestion, metabolism and nourishment.
Imbued with natural, subtle sweetness, yellow-orange veggies prepare our bodies for the cold months ahead. Think pumpkin, winter squash, yams and carrots.
4. Consider a "cleanse" (the Chinese Medicine way).
The transition between seasons is a time for "cleansing" in the sense of a balanced, supportive reset. It's a time to keep things basic...and "do the next, right thing."
Bonus tip: Lean into herbal support!
Perhaps more than any other time, the transition between seasons can leave us feeling slightly off kilter. This is natural – our bodies and minds want to move toward balance…but need a minute to adjust.
Chinese herbal formulas are a fantastic, easy way to smooth the transition and support seasonal alignment:
Too much ice cream leave you with an upset tummy? Try Digestive Harmony.
Back-to-school shopping with the kiddos fun but stressful? Consider Emotional Balance.
Always get colds this time of year? Immunity Support has your back.
Summertime play take a toll on your back and knees? Joint Vitality is the one!
Hormones out of whack with shifting schedules and routines? Women’s Formula restores regularity and harmony.
Choosing a formula that’s right for you will complement dietary and lifestyle attunement, helping you feel your best this summer and beyond. (Oh, and use the code DANA at checkout for 10 percent off your order!)
Making these changes as the season shifts? Have other tips? Please share in the comments!
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