Chinese Food Therapy: Summer – According to Chinese Medicine, there are foods that can heal you and foods that can harm you, based on your imbalance or constitutional make up. These foods are classified by their elemental affiliation, temperature, season, flavor, and their balance. As a general rule, always eat foods that are in season, local, and never over eat one flavor.
The Summer season pertains to the Fire element, the most yang season of the year. During this time, we run the risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and damaging our digestion by eating foods that are too damp and heavy (ice cream and barbeques). Foods spoil quickly in the heat, and as our bodies are microcosms of nature, eating foods that are too heavy or greasy have a greater chance to spoil inside us as well. So for the season of Summer we tend to eat smaller meals, more frequently. We eat foods that are local and in season. We avoid dairy and heavier foods when possible, and we try to eat less raw foods. Raw foods increase our temperature according to Chinese medicine, for we need to use extra energy to digest them. This may seem counter intuitive, however; when you do eat raw foods, try to have a little warming spice to balance the meal (ginger with sushi).
Try to avoid cold water, for this too is damaging to the stomach, especially in the summer. There is a reason why cultures of hotter climates eat spicier foods and drink hot tea. Our bodies try to keep an internal temperature of 98.6˚. When we ingest foods cooler than that, our body naturally tries to warm up the body. If you drink a hot tea at 100˚ your body will naturally try to cool it self down.
Our ultimate aim is balance and moderation. By following a healthy diet in accordance to our imbalances and seasons, we may achieve optimal health. Foods for this season are very simple, but again, they should be balanced and support the digestive system and the fluids of the body.
Watermelon, Cucumber, Lemons, Summer Squash
Mung Beans, Tea, Papaya, Mangoes
Tomatoes Crab, Clam, Celery
Kelp, Lettuce, Barley, Flax Seed
Peppermint, Salt, Almonds, Basil
Ginger, Pork, String Beans, Tofu
Lobster, Longan, Coconut, Vinegar
Asparagus, Radish, Tempeh, Bananas