Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy has always said that for health and happiness to flourish, we need to live in harmony with the environment. However thanks to the hectic, modern world, that we live in, most of us have lost that connection to the earth and the elements within us that tie us to nature.
Summer is the most ‘yang’, warm and energetic part of the year. We are more social and active, and joy, love and happiness are often the dominant emotions – our Qi (energy) is at its fullest. To create a balance of yin and yang energy, we can begin to include more cooling ‘yin’ foods into our diet. Here’s more on why you should include more cooling ‘yin’ foods in your diet during summer, and exactly how to do so.
As per TCM, digestion plays a crucial role supporting good health, hence why it is so important to nurture the stomach and spleen (the bodies powerhouse). Furthermore, recent findings that our gut is like our second brain. Ultimately, our gut health plays a major role in our overall health and emotional wellbeing.
TCM nutrition classifies foods according to their taste and energetic qualities.
As the sayings go, ‘eat with the seasons’ or ‘eat seasonably’. By doing so, not only does this help balance nutrition year-round, but it helps to balance our energies.
So, as the days get warmer and longer, it’s a good idea to adapt with this change by choosing more cooling, ‘yin’ foods as part of your diet. Here’s 12 ways you can do so:
- Eat lots of green and leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, beans and legumes, whole-grains and use herbs and spices with pungent flavours.
- When making juices and smoothies, you can add warming spices like cinnamon and ginger to support the spleen.
- Avoid refined sugar as this too can weaken digestion, as can dairy and an excess of cold and refrigerated foods and drinks which cause ‘dampness’, manifesting as low energy, heaviness and a foggy head.
- If you have an event like Christmas or new years, treat yourself but try not to over-indulge to the point where your health and happiness can’t thrive. This may be achieved by keeping what you put in your mouth clean and simple, when it’s not a special occasion meal or event.
- As the days grow longer, wake up earlier and go to bed later, taking naps in the middle of the day when possible.
- Add mint, cucumber or limes to your water to cool the system without damaging your spleen.
- Sip on green tea or peppermint tea. I’m often asked if green tea is a yin or yang – these are cool in nature so are more beneficial for rehydration on a hot day than a cold beverage, as they stimulate the spleen.
- Eat smaller amounts but more frequently, making sure your portions are controlled.
- Create a plans to keep up with your good eating habits and exercise regime so you don’t completely fall off the wagon – it’s much harder to get back on.
- Eat slowly, while sitting. Chew lots to really tasting and enjoy your food so you’re full quicker and you are less like to overeat and feel ill.
- Take a walk after lunch or dinner to aide the digestive process and promote longevity – Confucius say so!
- Keep up with that daily pro-biotic to restore gut health and increase nutrient absorption.
You many also find this Yin & Yang Food List interesting (note, we do not recommend the consumption of drugs without medical supervision).
If these ideas are completely foreign to your diet and lifestyle now, simply start by picking one or two suggestions and trying them out each week. See how you feel and the impact each has on your digestion.
Want to know more? This article on yin and yang food choices for balance explains more about the TCM take on nutrition (different to the Western nutrition), yin & yang foods, the signs of imbalances we may experience, and what to eat as a result. I also wrote this ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine 101 Guide’ for you earlier this year, that you can learn more from.
Or, got a question for me about any of the above? Ask away via the comments section below, I’d love to hear from you!
P.S. Do you know someone who needs to eat more ‘yin’ foods or who might find this article helpful? Share it with them via one of the big share buttons below.