Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees eating locally and based on seasonal influence as not something new or trendy, but instead something essential to good health.
How to Eat and Prepare for the 4 Seasons in TCM
The following will provide you some more specific ideas about how to behave and what to consume, and what to avoid during the four seasons according to TCM theory.
Spring (not surprisingly) is the season of re-birth and re-growth, along with your Yang energy should now be nourished as you start to secure your Yin energy. And based on TCM, spring is connected with your Liver, that is influenced largely by sour flavours.
Thus it is a good idea to decrease the amount of sour food that you eat and increase the sweet and pungent flavours, as this can assist your Liver do its job to regulate and smooth the flow of Qi on your body.
So fruits and other natural sugars are suggested, although in moderation since raw fruit is cold in nature and in spring your body is still cool in the not-so-long-passed winter. Pungent foods like garlic and chili peppers should begin to be used too.
After that the coldness of winter, you might have developed residual heat signals if your Yin was not properly nourished. Such heat signals may include a dry throat, bad breath, or constipation. Foods like bananas (ripened), pears, celery, and pineapple can help.
In general, spring foods you ought to attempt to eat include asparagus, broccoli, peas, leafy green vegetables, spinach, mushrooms (particularly morels), fiddleheads, and ramps.
Like plants which grow rapidly in summer time, people act more energetically and our bodies’ Qi and Blood become relatively more vigorous compared to the other seasons. Therefore Yang energy ought to be nourished, and as summer is related to your Heart you ought to reduce the quantity of bitter flavours you eat while seeking more pungent, salty and sour foods.
Thus it is advisable in the summer to avoid foods like coffee, tea, walnuts, dark leafy greens, and grapefruit. You should rather attempt to consume foods like watermelon, berries, tomatoes, cucumber, apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, nectarines, summer squash, beans, okra, zucchini, fermented foods, garlic, and chili peppers.
In character, fall is the time when things start to slow down and prepare for winter. So should you begin to take part in less activity and begin to conserve your Yang energy while nourishing your Yin.
Autumn also correlates with your Lung system in TCM, which can be affected most readily by dryness. Thus you wish to begin nourishing your Yin energy today, boosting the production of body fluids and Blood. Dry weather may bring sore throats, thirst, chapped lips, dry skin, and other symptoms and signs of Dryness on your body.
You helps mitigate potential problems while also preparing for winter by eating such seasonal foods as: root vegetables, squash, apples, pears, cruciferous vegetables (e.g. brussels sprouts or broccoli), pomegranates, dates, kiwis, grapefruits, and tangerines.
In order to further nourish your Yin in the fall, try to maneuver towards sour, astringent tastes and consume more foods such as lemons, pineapples, and meals stored in vinegar. Try to avoid foods which will open your pores and/or promote perspiration like ginger, garlic, hot peppers and other foods which are aromatic and/or spicy.
Reducing your action and even the amount of hot showers you have at this time of year will also allow you to conserve your Yang energy.
By wintertime, you should be well-used into the foods and practices you began in the fall, and are now sticking religiously to the above-mentioned foods and are almost hibernating with regard to physical action, almost never causing perspiration. This will help to make certain that your Yin has been nourished for this forthcoming harsh season, along with your Yang will be preserved for the ultimate spring season.
Since TCM considers that in winter our daily diet ought to be adapted to concentrate on enriching Yin and subduing Yang, we should increase our diet foods which are high in calories, particularly those high in proteins. It is not a good idea to lose much weight (if any) over the winter, but you don’t need to gain any if you’re careful. Just add in a little more red meat, eggs and duck, or foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados and coconut if you’re vegetarian.
The winter is the season of the Kidney energy system in TCM, which doesn’t like salty foods and favors foods that are bitter. Foods with bitter tastes include: apricot, asparagus, celery, coffee, tea, grapefruit, hops, kohlrabi, lettuce, radish leaves, kale, wine and vinegar.
Essentially, when in doubt try to consume what is plentiful and grown locally since this is basically what nature intends to your body at that moment.
Also, generally try to not eat raw or cold foods without having something hot (even a cup of hot water), as it is great for your Spleen and Stomach, the organs responsible for digestion within your body (notice that terms capitalized are done to distinguish from their scientific definitions).