10 Seasonal Tips for Thriving in Late Summer!
Have you ever been curious about how to really live in harmony with the seasons? At least where I live, I believe we are officially transitioning between the Summer and Fall, the season in Chinese medicine known as Late Summer, or Dojo, as the Japanese would say. This is a warm glowing time with the crops turning in preparation for the upcoming harvest and a time before Autumn takes hold. We know that the days are getting shorter and the nights have become cooler. How do we adjust with nature? After all when we live harmoniously with nature and its natural cycles as well as our own, we can usually maintain an optimal state of health and well-being.
For example, in the blazing summer heat, we may crave fresh salads and cool drinks and this serves us, where as in the depths of winter, we may be drawn to more warm cozy comforting soups and pots of tea to enjoy while curled up in a blanket.
Despite the current unprecedented times of anxiety and anticipation for what may be coming, this late summer season is naturally a time for rebalancing and stabilizing as we shift from one season into another. A time for centering and grounding ourselves and nourishing our bodies, especially the digestive system. The main organs involved in this season are the Stomach, Spleen and Pancreas. From a five element theory, it's not surprising this season relates to the earth element. We look to Earth to be solid and stable and have integrity.“So what do I need to know and do to rock this season?”
Here are my 10 recommendations for this late summer season:
- Use the colors of the seasons to guide your choices. Consume yellow, gold, orange and brown foods. Examples include apples, varieties of squash such as pumpkin, acorn, spaghetti, and butternut. Root vegetables such as carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and beets (even though they are more red). Whole grains like oats, millet, buckwheat and quinoa are also great food choices this time of year.
- Fermented foods always help aid in digestion. Incorporate things like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, pickles.
- If your digestion feels weak going into this season don't hesitate to supplement with digestive enzymes. But first be sure you are chewing your food well to enable the full secretion of your own natural digestive enzymes that come from the chewing process.
- We are susceptible to mucus formation this time of year especially if our spleen, stomach and pancreas are weak. Be careful not to over indulge in sweet foods as it will lead to mucus formation in the body and weakens your digestion. Definitely stay away from excessive consumption of refined sugars and tropical fruits, that are high in sugar, such as banana, mango, and pineapple. Along with sweet foods that create mucus so does the consumption of excessive gluten, dairy, greasy, and fried foods.
- To prevent mucous formation and congestion during this season, which we are naturally prone to, consume enough warm and pungent foods such as onions, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, mustard leaf, oregano, basil, coriander, savory, tarragon, rosemary, sage, ginger and nutmeg.
- Damp, humid, moist, rainy environments can lend to mucous and when we have this congestion in our body, we can feel lethargic and sluggish and unable to focus.
- Cold food and drinks impair the spleen, stomach and pancreas' ability to transform and transport food optimally, so cut down on your raw food intake and begin making and eating more stews and soups.
- Don't leave home without eating breakfast. 7-11am is a time when you can eat anything you want because the spleen, stomach and pancreas are at their peak strength and 12 hours later they are at their weakest, so eat your steak and eggs for breakfast not dinner! Because we want to support our digestive system, this is definitely not the season for a late night eating.
- The spleen stomach and pancreas are strained by excessive sitting and inactivity so stay active even if it just means walking daily, especially after a meal to stimulation digestion.
- The emotions that most affect and weaken with the spleen, stomach and pancreas are pensiveness, rumination, and worry. If need be, enrol in a meditation class and commit to some regular yoga, even if it's just on YouTube. Seek help if you're feeling emotionally unstable. Acupuncture is a great way to help regulate emotions by treating the whole body and all or any of its imbalances. As well, talking to a good friend or psychologist is often very therapeutic. I am a big fan of therapy!
When we are in balance with this season, our mind body and spirit feels strong and stable, our energy is vibrant and we have clarity of mind. We are able to give and receive appropriately and nourish ourselves and those around us in a supportive manner, regardless of what is going on around us.
If we are out of balance during the season, our body feels weak and our muscles are possibly flabby and soft. We can gain weight easily, feel heavy and bloated, have digestive weakness and in more severe cases have blood sugar imbalances. This can be a common time of year for hemmoroids, prolapse and miscarriage as the spleen and stomach have an important energetic function of keeping things in their place. Out of balance we feel foggy with unclear thinking and a general feeling of sluggishness.
Now that you know what to do and how to thrive in this season, eat well, stay active, and regulate your emotions to be of service to yourself and those around you.