AUTUMN HEALTHY DIET IN CHINESE MEDICINE
Updated: Oct 10, 2022
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that we should respect and follow nature and eat according to the seasons. This helps to bring the body into harmony with the environment. As our internal organs are very sensitive to seasonal changes it can be beneficial for your health if you know which foods to eat and when. Each season is connected to a specific TCM organ, and you can optimize your health if you eat to nourish the organ in the season you’re in. During Autumn the organ we need to nourish is the Lungs.
LOCAL & SEASONAL FOODS
The first and simple rule that applies to all seasons is to eat local and seasonal foods. Simply put, seasonal eating is about eating the right food at the right time. Thus, buying vegetables and fruits at your local farmers market (if you are not lucky to have your own vegetable garden and fruit trees).
FOODS WITH NEUTRAL ENERGY
As we move into autumn and temperatures start to drop, our body might start to crave more nourishing foods (larger amounts of fats, carbs, and animal proteins). This helps to replenish nutrients that we lost in summer due to the increase in physical activity and excess sweating.
In addition, we need to start reducing cooling foods, like raw foods, salads, juices, and fruits. Instead, we should consume foods that have neutral or close-to-neutral energy, such as sweet potato, potato, cabbage, carrots, red beans, kidney beans, pistachio, soy milk, grape, black sesame, brown or black rice, black beans.
Another simple rule for an autumn diet is eating white-coloured foods, this is because white is the colour that pertains to the Metal element and autumn. White foods are, for example, white radish, potato, tofu, white beans, pear, water chestnut, onion, garlic, egg, milk, white radish, Chinese yam, white sesame seeds, lichi, fish, chicken, almond, winter melon, sticky rice, peanuts, lotus seeds & root, Chinese barley just to name a few.
Dryness is an environmental factor related to autumn in Chinese medicine which can trigger a series of respiratory infections. To maintain good health, especially lung health, it’s recommended to eat moisturizing white foods in this season. Foods that moisten the Lung include: honey, sesame seeds, almond, apples, bananas, oranges, pears, white radish, carrot, winter melon, black fungus, lotus seed, lilly bulb.
The drier weather can also cause chapped lips, a dry nose, an itchy throat, rough skin and even dry stools. To counter these issues, it is recommended to eat foods that promote the production of bodily fluids, such as nuts, seeds, pears, pumpkins, honey and traditional Chinese porridge called congee.
A RECIPE: PEAR CONGEE
Congee is traditionally a breakfast dish in China. It has a myriad of healing properties, which include replenishing Qi and improving Qi flow, nourishing the Lungs, Stomach and Spleen, and greatly improving your skin.
- 2 pears, peeled, pitted, and cut into small pieces
- 1 cup of brown rice
- 30 goji berries
- 4 cups of clean water
- Wash brown rice, add pear chunks, brown rice, and water into a pot, and bring the water to boil
- Simmer for 35 minutes
- Add goji berries and continue to simmer for 5 minutes
- Turn off heat and serve
Health benefits of this dish:
- Moistening the throat and the lungs
- Relieving coughs
- Nourishing the stomach and the intestines
- Clearing internal heat
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-Tracy Huang: “Healthy Eating”, 2014
-Tracy Huang: “Food As Medicine”, 2015
**The first featured photograph (autumn leaves) are by my friend Anja Benedik