Eating According to TCM: Five Foods for Spring

Spring is a time of renewal, regeneration, growth and energy. The plants and animals awaken from the slumber of the cold winter months. The vital nutrients that have been stored in the roots of the plants and the bodies of the animals, comes to the surface and life becomes more vibrant and fluid. Human beings are no different. Humans tend to stay indoors more during the winter months and sometimes pack on a little extra weight in the process. As the weather warms, humans become more gregarious and spend more time outside enjoying nature. This is just a natural process.

Therefore, it makes sense that what was observed by the ancient Chinese should still hold true today. Humans are supposed to take their cues from nature. As a species, humans should be more active during the warmer spring months. And to do this, we need proper nourishment. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is sometimes translated into energy. This Qi is the vital substance that keeps our bodies functioning until the day we die. To keep the Qi plentiful, we need to eat the proper foods at the proper times.

During the spring, we should be eating foods that have upward energies, such as green, sprouting vegetables. But we also need foods that will provide the extra nourishment needed for the increased amounts of activity that accompany the season of spring. This is where sweeter foods play a vital role. But be careful not to overdo it. Too much sweet can overload the body and make it sluggish.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, spring is the season of the liver and the gallbladder. These organs regulate a smooth flow of energy throughout the whole body. However, they are prone to stagnation because we do not take proper care of ourselves. This can manifest as anger, irritability, depression, insomnia and even pain. Stagnation can occur when people eat too many foods of poor quality that may be full of chemicals.

Here are some foods recommended to eat throughout the season of spring.

  1. Green Foods: During spring, it is recommended to eat foods green in color and rich in chlorophyll that help accelerate rejuvenation of the liver. This includes things like spirulina, chlorella, parsley, wheat grass, kale, Swiss chard and collard greens.
  2. Radishes: Pungent in flavor, radishes are perfect for the spring time. They help move liver Qi and open up the liver meridian.
  3. Sour Citrus Fruits: Foods like lemons, limes and grapefruit are all good choices that help cut fats that may have been stored up in the body during the winter months, while also keeping the liver Qi moving smoothly.
  4. Bitter Leafy Greens: Spring is the appropriate time for liver cleansing, which is what the bitter flavor does. So adding things like dandelion greens, arugula, radicchio, mustard greens and spinach will help tremendously.
  5. Chicken: Ever heard the term “spring chicken”? Well this is the appropriate time of year to enjoy pasture-raised, locally grown chicken. And pairing chicken with some of the aforementioned foods can make for a very healthy and liver happy meal.

Contact us if you are curious about how to eat according to the seasons. We can guide you along your healing journey through the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine and nutritional counseling.

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