Balancing foods for your climate
Summertime is known as the most outward of all four seasons. Plants and trees are in full bloom. The sun is out, and it’s hot. People sleep less, are outside and active more often. They have more social engagements including travel, holidays and outdoor get-togethers. Although this time of year is exciting, it’s important to help balance out this hot, fiery energy of summer with more cooling and neutral foods.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), summer is the most “yang” season of the year. This means dryness and overheating in the body can occur, so it’s important to balance it out with the right kinds of foods, depending on your specific climate type.
For those living in the north, you may not experience as high temperatures as those in the south, so neutral foods – foods that are neither hot nor cold – are helpful to keep the body in balance during this time of year. Yams, sweet potato, mushroom, olives, brown rice, almonds and most ocean fish are excellent choices to add to your summer diet.
Hot and dry environments
For hot and dry climates, you need hydrating foods. A cooling rice soup with mung beans is a good option for its balancing qualities. Other ideas include cucumbers, spinach, fish, tomatoes, watermelon, melon or strawberries.
There are other options to balance the yang such as iceberg lettuce, celery, radish, peppers, cauliflower and carrots. Pears and star fruit are extremely hydrating fruits to add into your diet.
Coconut water, water and chrysanthemum tea are all excellent beverage choices.
Hot and humid environments
For hot and humid areas, you need cooling foods to stimulate the lethargic digestive system and help drive out sweat. Avoid dairy products, as they’re sticky and slow to the digestive system. This also holds true for icy drinks or ice-cold food, and too many raw products.
A miso soup with tofu, chili and seaweed is great for this environment. Spinach, mustard greens and red pepper are also excellent vegetables, and coconut, litchi, red apples and tomatoes are balancing fruits to incorporate into your diet in this climate.
For the northern hemisphere, summer often comes later in September. The taste of this season is sweet – potato, carrot, beets, cucumber, sweet corn and cooked grains are balancing things to eat during this time. Portions should be smaller, with light broths in the evenings and seasonally available fruits.
As the rest of the world gets cooler during this time, introducing warmer foods during the month of the September is crucial. This is the season where the hot yang transitions to a cooler yin. Add in ginger, mustard greens or cinnamon to your food to warm up the body.