Living in tune with the rhythms of the season enables us to feel complete connection to the Earth and our environment. Utilizing the seasonality of foods and temperatures allows us to remain health and vibrant while keeping illness at bay. There are seasonal changes four times a year, for two to three weeks each around the two solstices and two equinoxes. Throughout these times of seasonal change it is important to stay grounded as to not go into total chaos and stay connected. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acknowledges that if an organ is unbalances or overstressed in its season, the difficulty may be expressed in the following season. For example, spring is related to the liver and gallbladder, if overstressed in spring will show up as imbalanced in summer.
Seasonal transitions are a time to slow down, reconnect and listen to what the season is telling you. Late summer, a short season, only about the month of August, is a shift from the most yang season (hot, bright, active and dry) to the more yin season (cool, moist, dark, quiet, still). It is an important period of preparation and readiness for the years work. It is a time of intense metamorpgis in nature and within us and has an aspect of all seasons (hot, dry, cold, wet, humid, wind).
Late summer is when many are sad to see the summer or coming to an end (or others rejoicing in the soon to be cooler weather). Kids are going back to school, fruit trees are full of ripe fruit, the process of canning and preserving the summer bounty is in process and the farmers are preparing for the season of harvest. Late summer is connected to the element Earth and the organs Spleen and Stomach. The Earth element represents the colour yellow, the emotion sympathy or compassion, the sense organ of taste, the taste of sweet and fragrance of sweet, the grain millet, fruit date, herb mallow and animal meat beef or ox. The Earth element gives us the power of manifestation and the ability to form thoughts and opinions.
The Spleen is the central organ both physiologically and anatomically. A defect in the Spleen can affect the whole body’s energy as the Spleen distributes energy, obtained from foods, throughout the body. The Spleen governs the will, the memory, and the ability to form opinions. In women, the Spleen governs the menstrual cycle and its ease and flow. Problems of infertility are often an imbalance in the Earth element. The Stomach is the receiver of nourishment and the seat of emotions. The improper working of the stomach leads to poor nourishment and weak health. The Earth element is dependent upon the way in which we nourish ourselves and ability to receive and give love and compassion. Being balanced in late summer shows adaptability, relaxation, deep breathes, a balanced intake, preparation and faith. An imbalance shows resisting change, use of drugs, shallow breathing, nervous eating and apprehension.
A late summer diet enables us to nourish ourselves in the rhythmic tune of the seasons to maintain strength and stamina while resisting disease. This is the beginning of harvest with ripe fruits and plump vegetables. Apples, grapes, tomatoes, zucchini, and beans are at their full ripeness as we wait for squash and grains in preparation of harvest (see below for more). Dependent upon the weather, you may continue to eat as lightly as feels best for you and your surroundings. As we close in on the autumn equinox (September 23) the cycle of darkness begins to dominate and our balance shifts inwards. It is wise to begin shifting to more of a building and toning diet including a bit more warming and building foods. A greater proportion of protein rich foods, more fat than in the summer, good heating whole grains along with some seeds, sprouts, nuts, beans, dairy and eggs, and including more cooked foods. It is essential to not eat too hot or too cold of foods and limit the amount of raw fruits and vegetables as it can weaken the digestive fire.
Late summer can be a time of higher acidity in the body (which I will discuss in length in a later post). Each food we eat is metabolizes in the body and breaks down to acid or alkaline. We want to strive to keep our bodies at a slightly alkaline state by focusing on more alkaline foods when we can. Great alkaline foods include most fruits and vegetables, millet, buckwheat and sprouted grains, almond, Brazil nuts, olive oil, and sesame oil.
It is very important to stay grounded and centered throughout seasonal changes with the commotion and rapid changes. Eating regularly, naturally sweet and warm foods keeps us centered. Avoiding processed, refined sugar and carbohydrate foods creates slowness, ressitance and mucus in our body’s. Nurturing yourself and connecting with nature allows you to stay connected and grounded to the Earth.
Late Summer Foods:
Beef, ox, eggs
Lacto fermented foods
Apples, apricots, berries, cherries, dates, figs, grapes, pears, papayas, peaches, stone fruits
Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, lavender, nutmeg, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon
Adzuki beans, garbanzo beans, green lentils, red lentils, mung beans
Almonds, chestnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts
Artichokes, beets, bell peppers, bok choy, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green beans, mushrooms, mustard leaf, onions parsnips, peas, potatoes, swiss chard, tomatoes, turnips, yams, zucchini
Amaranth, millet, barley, brown rice, buckwheat. Oats, quinoa, spelt, teff,