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Tuning into the season: What to eat in spring

Written by Endeavour College of Natural Health | Wednesday, 19 October 2022

chinese medicine

For many, the arrival of spring marks the end of a long, cold winter and the promise of warmer days. In Chinese medicine, the change in seasons is an important transition which brings about new ways of eating and living to stay in tune with nature.

According to the ancients, wellness is achieved when we adapt to the fluctuations of the four seasons and find a healthy balance between yin and yang.

Chinese medicine associates the season of spring with the 'Wood' element and is related to the sour flavour, the nature of wind, the emotional states of anger and frustration, and the relationship between the liver and gall bladder.

The liver is associated with the free flow of qi throughout the body but this process can become stagnant due to emotional constraints, environmental and dietary factors creating a ripple effect throughout the body. Liver qi stagnation can contribute to irritability, respiratory issues, red and dry eyes, and itchy skin, as well as pain in the form of headaches, migraines or dizziness and vertigo.

Spring is a time to refresh the body and cool 'heated' tempers by nourishing the liver and gall bladder with sour flavours which can help soothe emotional stress and anger and support the body as temperatures change from cool to warm and the wind picks up.

Here are some ways to get in sync with the season by eating for spring:

  • To support the liver in spring, eat mildly warming foods such as garlic, onion and mustard to care for yang as the seasons transition. Also, eat plenty of cooling green vegetables such as cucumber and zucchini, and focus on incorporating sour flavours from foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, yoghurt, grapefruit, lemon and rhubarb. The goal is not necessarily to have all sour foods or all green vegetables in one dish because this does not represent a balance but more to add these foods to the shopping list and incorporate them into as many meals as possible
  • One of the easiest ways to tune into the seasons is to eat local, seasonal produce. If it’s cheap and fresh, it’s likely in season
  • Create a balanced diet with different colours, flavours, textures and temperatures. Don’t just focus on macronutrients and micronutrients but take into account how food is cooked and prepared. The indications of specific foods are important, for example, the thermal action that they have in the body and how the nature of foods can be altered by chopping, pounding, salting, or roasting
  • It’s not just what we eat but how we eat. Try and make mealtimes calm, as opposed to rushed, and incorporate mindfulness and gratitude where possible

Don’t forget to keep moving. While many use the spring months to get into shape for summer, gentle exercise is favoured in Chinese medicine for its role in stimulating the digestive system.

Interested in Chinese Medicine?

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Endeavour College of Natural Health

Endeavour College of Natural Health is Australia's largest Higher Education provider of natural medicine courses.

The College is known as the centre of excellence for natural medicine and is respected for its internationally recognised academic teams and high calibre graduates. Endeavour offers higher education Diplomas in Health Science and Bachelor of Health Science degrees in Naturopathy, Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, Acupuncture Therapies and Chinese Medicine.

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