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Dec 30

Food for Summer

Summer is a Yang season, which means that lightness, brightness, liveliness, expansion, growth and creativity are the principles that hold true at this time of year. So to live in accordance with these natural principles to enhance your health, the lifestyle we live and the foods we eat are important. The last post focused on the Chinese Medicine summer lifestyle of waking early and being light-hearted (in Chinese Medicine, this is the season of the Heart) and this post will focus on its complementary component, the summer foods for good health!

Varied, many-coloured fruits and vegetables are the way to go this season and creating a visually appealing display of the food will enhance their benefits. The cooking style should be light, which means lightly sauteing at high heat, steaming and simmering foods quickly.
On particularly hot days, create a cooling atmosphere in which to eat, such as having a picnic under a tree or dining al-fresco on your back patio, and eat foods that are cooling. These include:

  • salads
  • sprouts (particularly mung, soy and alfalfa)
  • fruit (especially apples, watermelons, lemons and limes)
  • cucumber
  • tofu
  • flower and leaf teas such as chyrsanthemum, mint and chamomile

To help regulate your temperature, drinking hot drinks and having warm showers will cause sudden sweating and cool your body down. Also, having hot-flavoured spices will intially cause your body to become warmer but will actually disperse the heat from the inside to outside. Some of these foods include:

  • red and green hot peppers
  • cayenne red pepper
  • fresh ginger
  • horseradish
  • black pepper

As always, have these foods in moderation because if you have too much cooling food, it causes contraction in your body and you will hold in sweat and heat, and it will also affect your digestion. For this reason, it is also important to avoid icy drinks and cold foods such as ice-cream. If you have too much dispersing spices, it weakens your warming energy and being able to stay warm in the cooler seasons may be lost. Also avoid heavy foods such as meats, eggs and too many nuts, seeds and grains because they will create sluggishness.

If you find yourself with any combination of the following: red face, red eyes, a bright red tongue with a yellow coating, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, skin eruptions, nose bleeds, constipation, mouth ulcers or an unusually large appetite – it is possible that you have excessive heat in your body and following a diet as above, will help to cool you down!

Dec 10

Summer Lifestyle Advice from a Chinese Sage

Unfortunately, the Chinese sage is not I, but is the famous Yellow Emperor (Huang Di), an emperor who reigned in the middle of the third millenium BCE and wrote one of the most important classics of Taoism, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine (Huang Di Nei Jing), which gives a holistic picture of human life.

Chinese Medicine Summer

Regarding living in summer (scroll down for summary):
“In the three months of summer, there is an abundance of sunshine and rain. The heavenly energy descends, and the earthly energy rises. When these energies merge, there is intercourse between heaven and earth. As a result, plants mature and animals, flowers and fruit appear abundantly.

One may retire somewhat later at this time of year, while still arising early. One should refrain from anger and stay physically active, to prevent the pores from closing and the qi from stagnating. One should not overindulge in sex, although one can indulge a bit more than in other seasons. Emotionally, it is important to be happy and easygoing and not hold grudges, so that the energy can flow freely and communicate between the external and the internal. In this way, illness may be averted in the fall. The season of fire and heart also encompasses late summer, which corresponds to the Earth element. Problems in the summer will cause injury to the heart and will manifest in autumn.”

In essence, to live accordance with nature in summer:

  • you can sleep later than usual whilst still waking early
  • avoid getting angry or hold grudges, and be happy and easygoing
  • stay physically active
  • you can have a bit more sex than usual, but be sure not to overindulge and deplete yourself

It’s not that summer-like in Melbourne just yet but keep some of these lifestyle tips in mind so illnesses and problems aren’t generated and passed through to autumn!