What foods and TCM wellness activities could I do throughout the year to build a strong inner body and make myself more resistant to viruses and colds?
With every seasonal shift, the body needs to match the change in frequency. Certain seasons are more difficult for some people than others. Often Spring and Fall bring unbearable allergies with symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose. Likewise, in the intense heat of summer and chill of Winter, many people experience stomach bugs and other viruses. With Covid and its variants on the rise, follow these seasonal tips to keep yourself healthy all year long.
In Winter, we see a retreat, in both the earth and in Nature’s activity. If we truly match Nature’s messages, these observations should become our mantra: slow down, rest, release, rebuild. The goal is to keep our bodies warm. Bundle up when outside and keep away from iced drinks and raw vegetables. Winter is the perfect season to enjoy soups, bone broth, shellfish, seaweed, and warming spices and herbs, such as ginger and turmeric.
Winter gives way to Spring, a beautiful gift of sunshine, warmth, and a resurgence of life after the dormancy of Winter. In Spring, we nurture our Liver/Gallbladder, by eating pickled foods, bamboo, cucumbers, snow peas, scallions, and plums. Liver’s Qi wants to move up and out, like the branches of a tree. It asks us to shake off the old in preparation for the new!
After Spring’s initial blossoms come bountiful blooms of Summer. The hot sun invites all things to grow—fruits, vegetables, and us as well. As foods ripen in the sun, we nurture our lives, passions, and creativity into existence. Summer—the season of love—resonates with the Heart and Small Intestine. Bitter foods, such as broccoli rabe, dandelion, bitter melon and endive are particularly beneficial in Summer, as are apricots, plum tomatoes, and berries. Even though the outside temperatures may be warm, avoid drinking ice cold drinks and eating raw vegetables. Instead, cool yourself down naturally with a juicy slice of watermelon.
At the end of Summer, we have an “extra” season called Late Summer. Earth gives one final burst of energy for the final summer harvest. During Late Summer, the Stomach and Spleen are in “command”. This organ system helps to to accumulate Qi from the foods you eat. Stick close to the earth, with sweet potato, peanuts, pumpkin, ginger, and turmeric. Chinese barley and Chinese red dates make a delicious, warming breakfast to ease the body into the cooler temperatures.
As Late Summer turns into Fall, energy is beginning to turn inward. It’s a time to nourish your digestive system with foods that are harvested in that season, and those that support the Lung and Large Intestine, such as daikon radish, persimmons, almonds and mushrooms, and warming spices such as ginger and turmeric. The energetic “message” of those foods is what also feeds the body. Begin to slow down and honor the body’s need to rest.
Stay Warm & Practice Qigong
In matching Nature’s frequency, we support our bodies throughout the whole year. This helps us build our inner strength so that when the body encounters a virus, the virus will choose not to enter. Viruses are clever—they figure out new ways to adapt, in order to survive. The goal of a virus is to continually find a good host. Viruses love a cold environment. Regardless of the weather, keep yourself warm, both inside and out, throughout the year.
The most important part of self-care is energy practice. You are an energy being. You are made of this powerful substance called Qi. It is what animates and breathes life into everything in existence. When your Qi is free-flowing, disease cannot enter. Practicing Qigong helps your Qi to continually flow, to maintain balance and enhance your connection with Nature.
Dragon’s Way Qigong (January 24–February 28, 2022): In this (virtual) 6-week program, you’ll learn 10 Qigong movements, and will begin to incorporate eating-for-healing and TCM guidance into your daily life. Learn more about this one-of-a-kind program, and register today! Space is limited.