Hi everyone! I hope that you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving weekend! The weather here in Southern California seemed to bypass the fall season and transition straight from summer to winter the past few weeks. I want to go over some pertinent information on the fall season and what foods to eat as the weather gets colder.
The fall season is the season of harvest and abundance. It is the time to reap the rewards of the efforts we put in during spring and summer. While the energy of spring and summer was yang, dispersing and highly energetic, fall is a yin season, where we pull inward and gather together on all levels. My previous post on Indian or Late Summer talked about the point of transition between summer and fall from yang to yin, where we go from the expansive growth of spring and summer to the inward, cooler, fall and winter seasons. During the fall and winter is when we should store up on fuel, food, and warm clothing. It is a time to study and plan for the stillness of winter. Even everything in nature contracts and moves inward and downward. We witness the leaves and fruit on trees fall, tree sap travels into their roots, and seeds dry. Grass loses their deep green color and turn into a lighter and drier shade.
Here are basic concepts based on Chinese medicine/philosophy to remember about the fall season:
- Five elements: Metal
- Organs: Lungs and Large Intestine
- Sense Organ: Nose/Smell
- Tissue: Skin and Hair
- Emotion: Grief and Melancholy
- Voice Sound: Weeping
- Fluid Emitted: Mucus
- Paramita (Way to correct imbalance): Vigor
- Enviromental Influence: Dryness
- Development: Harvest
- Color: White
- Taste: Pungent
- Direction: West
Food preparation in the autumn season should reflect the abundant but contracting nature of the season. Foods should be astringent (or more drying – examples coming up) but should also contain heartier flavors and foods to supply our bodies with more energy required by a cooler season. Gathering together to eat for Thanksgiving and the Holiday season is perfect for this time of year. There is focused preparation of heavier foods with thicker sauces so that we can assimilate and absorb all the nutrients to keep us warm. Baking and sauteeing is also great to do during this time as concentrated foods thicken the blood for cooler weather.
Fall is the time to organize the open and sometimes scattered energy of the previous spring and summer seasons. As the season contracts inward, our bodies should also contract inward physically and mentally, through focus and concentration, by adding more sour flavored foods. Sour foods include sourdough bread, sauerkraut, olives, pickles, leeks, vinegar, cheese, yogurt, lemons, limes, grapefruit and sour varieties of apples, plums, and grapes. Be careful with extremely sour foods, since small amounts can have a strong effect.
Add astringent foods such as white potatoes, any type of beans, green apples, grapes, dry red wine, black, white, and green tea, green bananas, coriander, pomegranate, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, bay leaf, basil, rosemary and nutmeg. Use astringent foods with caution if you have a dry condition (see below).
Cook with less water, at lower heats, and for longer periods of time. Bitter and salty flavors also move energy inward and downward. These flavors should be gradually introduced as Fall transitions into Winter.
The fall season is associated with dry weather and we are more susceptible to dry conditions in our bodies during this time. The organ that is most susceptible to dryness is our lungs as it is the only organ in contact with our exterior environment. Symptoms of dryness in the body include thirst, dryness of the skin, nose, lips, and throat, and itchiness as well. Those who are chronically dry tend to have a thin body type.
To combat the dry weather, we can treat dryness in the body during any season by eating foods that moisten our bodies such as spinach, barley, millet, pears, apples, persimmons, seaweed, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, honey, barley malt, milk and dairy products, eggs, clam, crab, oyster, mussel, herring, and pork. Using salt sparingly in cooking also moistens dryness.
Dairy and animal products are usually more appropriate for those who are dry and also weak, frail, and with deficiency symptoms. Dry conditions are frequently a result of inadequate yin fluids in the body (review information on yin (body) fluids here), so remedies that nourish the yin will also treat dryness. If you are dry use bitter, aromatic, and/or warming foods with caution as these foods, which include a majority of spices and herbs, dry the body.
Next up, I will be talking about how to keep our Lungs healthy during the colder climates. Enjoy the holiday season!
In health and wellness,
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford