Summer is a bountiful time of year and your diet should reflect this.
Here’s 4 quick tips for eating well during the summer:
The Chinese Medicine Way of eating in harmony with nature might surprise you.
Use plenty of vibrant colored fruit, vegetables, small amounts of protein, mint or chamomile tea to keep the diet cool and light. Bitter cold and heavy fried foods should be eaten in moderation. Heavier meals should be consumed during the middle or late afternoon, because this is when yang (how’s that for a little Chinese medicine theory thrown at ya) is at its highest peak and is readily available to help digestion. It’s best to avoid dishes with too many ingredients, spicy or rich foods, and sugar, alcohol, icy drinks or foods (well…the alcohol thing isn’t ideal). Large evening meals and late-night eating should be avoided, because they will all create stagnation. Eliminating refined foods, coffee, alcohol, and tobacco. Then cutting down on animal fats, dairy products and other fatty foods. (Ok, so none of this is ideal. But it’s all in the name of health, right!?).
Ice Ice Baby — Too Cold.
According to Chinese dietary theory, one of the most common misconceptions about food concerns ice. Our society enjoys ice-cold products, especially in the summertime. Chinese medicine philosophy believes that ice shocks the system and is a common etiology of disease manifestation. Taking into account how warm your body is in the summer, by adding ice to the system it takes the body a long time to balance out the two extreme temperatures. To maintain the flow of qi, drink warm fluids and eat warm foods in smaller quantities and more frequently. Drinking cinnamon tea, cooking with cardamom, and the use of boiling water for hot drinks rather than cool water are a few ways to support the summer heat in a healthy way.
How’s that for a plot twist?!
Chinese dietary philosophy differs from Western norms in many ways that might surprise you.
Lady in Red.
Red foods are best in the summer, nourishing blood, improving circulation, and reinforcing yang. Summer diets need to be simple, light and should be eaten earlier in the day rather than later. If you want to consume foods that have the same resonance as the heart during the summer eat bitter greens, salsa, celery, cucumbers, watermelon, and a small amount of spicy food to disperse some of the summer heat.
Bitter, party of one... Bitter...
The flavor associated with the summer is bitter. Bitter is the most underused flavor. Bitter foods have yin cooling effects and they cause contracting and descending energy. Bitter can drain dampness, dry fluids, or have purgative effects. Heat in any season can be eliminated with the bitter flavor, but if you are deficient, weak, thin, dry, and/or nervous, limit the intake of bitter foods. Bitter foods benefit cases with inflammation, overly damp conditions (think sinus drainage, diarrhea, etc), heat, and stagnancy (aka STUCK).
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Living in harmony with nature according to the Chinese Medicine way can be rather counterintuitive. Every season offers its own challenges, but health benefits to harmonizing your diet with nature are numerous.