If you’re in Melbourne we can officially welcome in the season of Summer! Coinciding with a New Year this can be the season of wanting to create huge changes in our lives especially to our diets, lifestyle, exercise regimes. We would love to encourage this time to be a gradual incorporation of routines and rituals so that they can become more sustainable!
Summer is early sunny mornings, long, light filled days, slowing down during the hottest times of the day and connecting over the holidays.
As we come out of spring we have moved from the wood element to the fire element according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.(TCM). Nature clearly shifts into its full abundance and expression of yang and vitality. Flowers are in full bloom, energies quicken and heighten as our bodies and emotions also respond to this change of season.
This ancient wisdom of TCM shows us how we can support ourselves during this time of transition and how to live with nature and protect ourselves from overheating whilst embracing the dynamic potential of this time of year. Here are recommended foods and self care practices that reinforce cooling energies amidst the summer heat:
Instead of eating lots of ice and cold drinks which slow the body’s metabolism and lead to bloating and other digestive trouble, try introducing foods that are cooling in nature such as cucumber, watermelon, celery, mint, berries, spinach and salads. Bitter taste is related to the fire element so choosing bitter foods can also have a cooling effect on the body- I love bitter greens such as radicchio, arugula and chicory. But remember, everything in moderation and if you feel too bloated from raw food and fruits, cut back on them.
Similarly, during hot months, restrict your intake of heavy, greasy, and fried foods, as well as excessive alcohol that heat up the body. The combination of these warming foods with sweets can be problematic, sometimes leading to diarrhoea and what we call damp heat in Chinese Medicine.
Incorporating green, white and mint tea, as well as Chrysanthemum, or Honeysuckle flower tea will keep the body cool. I’ll often send patients off for the year with a blend of bitter digestive herbs that help to counteract Christmas dinners and prevent sluggishness and digestive imbalances.
The body needs less food during summer, so listen to what it’s saying and perhaps choose to have smaller more regular meals. Also thirst can often be masked as a food craving, so hydrate regularly and add a pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon juice into your water for electrolytes.
Winter is for rest and reflection, summer is for action and growth. It’s a natural time for us to be out more, connecting and finding joy with one another. The energy of summer is also about new projects and connection with external purposes that bring meaning and growth. It’s the time to be connected with your purpose in the world and be the expression of your enlivened spirit.
It will be natural to wake earlier and stay up later. Having a midday nap or time out at the height of the day will help sustain you on these long, hot days.
Insomnia, irritability, nose bleeding or profuse vaginal bleeding and headaches can all be conditions that arise or are aggravated due to heat. If you’re experiencing a flare up, check you are adhering to the advice above and that you have switched out the coffee and alcohol for green tea or a watermelon and mint infused water. Acupuncture, cupping, gua sha and herbs are used for restoring balance and clearing heat from the body.