Spring is coming! A time of birth, growth and expansion. This is the perfect time to change your foods from winter warming to those that help the body detox from those indulgent moments of festive food delights.
It is, I think, fair to say that we all eat differently, depending on the season. Soups in winter, salads in summer! But what should we be eating in spring? After embarking on a long journey of discovery I have come to realize just how significantly we are affected by what we put in to our bodies at different times of the year. So as to smoothly adjust to the new season, here are some tips on how and what to eat in spring.
Drink Home Made Juices
In TCM, spring is the associated with the liver and the element wood. Spring is a time of upward and outward movement. As we spring clean our home we should also spring clean our body. This is a time for vegetable juices or broths. They are also easy to make at home or at work. Enzymes in fresh vegetable juices help break down and remove toxins. Particularly cleansing are leafy green vegetables which are great for this cause, especially those that are bitter such as dandelion, endive, parsley, beet, kale, chard, mustard greens, spinach, endive, bok choy and arugula.
Flush the system with Water and Herbal Teas
This is a perfect way to cleanse and hydrate the system, by drinking clean water, with a dash of lemon to stimulate the liver, and teas. Move away from your caffeinated drinks as they interfere with the elimination process. Different teas have different cleansing properties. The bitterer, the more it cleanses. Some great examples are dandelion, burdock, ginger, licorice root, nettles, mint, fennel and cardamom. I find mixing ginger and licorice with the very cold in nature dandelion makes for a harmonious blend.
Manage your Stress Levels
In TCM, the liver is the main organ associated with Stress. The liver is responsible for the free flow of blood and energy throughout the body. Stress causes blockages and these blockages cause pain. This leads to problems such as IBS, bloating, heart burn or palpitations and headaches. Furthermore, stress increases intestinal permeability and causes inflammation. An extended period of over-activity, inevitably causes damage to our intestinal lining and flora. As a result we are unable to properly absorb nutrients. Breathe deep into your belly and get regular exercise. This also helps to free the flow of the liver.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, wind is associated with the liver and bloating is a type of wind that becomes blocked. This is caused by over-eating, eating raw or ‘wrong’ foods or eating in a stressful environment. Ensure you are not eating at your desk or in front of the TV. Eat mindfully, chewing and enjoying what you are eating. Warm foods are easier to digest as well as those with anti-inflammatory properties. Such foods which ease stomach and intestinal discomfort include cucumber, banana, papaya, asparagus, fennel seeds, ginger, peppermint and chamomile. While cruciferous vegetables are seasonally spring vegetables, be careful as these contain sugars that ferment in the intestine and therefore can cause bloating. You can also add supplemental enzymes and probiotics to your diet to help with the break-down of your food.
Buy ar Your Local Store or Market
The local store or market is more likely to have local produce and therefore seasonal produce. Hence the fruits and vegetables should have been grown in organic rich soil, packed full with all the micronutrients we need. Some vegetables include beet roots, celery, asparagus, zucchini, cucumbers, beets, string beans, beet greens, naturally fermented sauerkraut and sea vegetables, onions, garlic and leek. The liver is sensitive to overheating so steer clear of overly spicy foods. The flavor of the liver is sour so feel free to add a dash of lemon or lime and make sure you prepare your food lightly sautéed or steamed.
Eliminating the toxins through the bowel is important. Add roasted and ground flaxseeds to foods to help lubrication, drink plenty of water and tea. Get out and enjoy the spring crisp air and take your supplements.
2016 is your year, and it’s time to make changes. Your health and well-being are in your hands!