Chinese Medicine: How to Eat in Late Summer & Rest from Choice
Sure, they're here year round. 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.
The September shift means adjusting how we live and eat, feeling out the transition in weather and life rhythms...then planning routines accordingly.
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."
Making these changes this September? Have other seasonal tips? Please share in the comments!
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Wishing you a restful September and beyond!