“Summer” from Healing with Whole Foods
Categories: Excerpt Food & Nutrition Health & Healing
by Paul Pitchford
With summer almost here and so many fruits and vegetables in season, it’s a great time to rethink what we eat and how we prepare our food. In his best-selling Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford includes a number of wonderful tips about how to nourish yourself well in this plentiful season. We hope you find this information as enlightening as we did!
Tags: Alternative & Integrative Therapies Paul Pitchford
To unify with summer, a yang season, the Inner Classic suggests we express the yang principle—expansion, growth, lightness, outward activity, brightness, and creativity. The following suggestions for lifestyle and diet reflect this principle.
Summer is a period of luxurious growth. To be in harmony with the atmosphere of summer, awaken early in the morning and reach to the sun for nourishment to flourish as the gardens do. Work, play, travel, be joyful, and grow into selfless service. The bounty of the outside world enters and enlivens us.
Summer Food and Preparation
Use plenty of brightly colored summer fruits and vegetables, and enjoy creating beautiful meals—make a dazzling display with the colors of the food, and design a floral arrangement for the table. Cook lightly and regularly add a little spicy, pungent, or even fiery flavor. When sautéing, use high heat for a very short time, and steam or simmer foods as quickly as possible. Use little salt and more water.
Summer offers abundant variety, and the diet should reflect this. Minerals and oils are sweated out of the body, and their loss can cause weakness if they are not replaced by a varied diet. To be more comfortable, drink hot liquids and take warm showers to induce sudden sweating and to cool the body. Summer heat combined with too much cold food weakens the digestive organs. Coldness causes contraction; it holds in sweat and heat, and interferes with digestion. Iced drinks and ice cream actually contract the stomach and stop digestion. (They are best avoided.)
On the hottest days, create a cool atmosphere (picnics, patio meals, etc.) and serve more cooling fresh foods such as salads, sprouts (especially mung, soy, and alfalfa), fruit, cucumber, tofu, and flower and leaf teas including chrysanthemum, mint, and chamomile. Common fruits which cool summer heat best are apples, watermelon, lemons, and limes. Mung bean soup or tea is another specific remedy. Also, the dispersing hot-flavored spices are considered appropriate in the warmest weather. At first their effect is to increase warmth, but ultimately they bring body heat out to the surface to be dispersed. With heat on the surface, one’s body mirrors the summer climate and therefore will be less affected by it. Red and green hot peppers, cayenne red pepper, fresh (not dried) ginger, horseradish, and black pepper are all ideal for this purpose. However, if too many dispersing foods are taken, then weakness and loss of yang will result, and the ability to stay warm and vital in the cooler seasons is lost.
At the other extreme, heavy foods on hot days cause sluggishness. Such foods include meats, eggs, and excesses of nuts, seeds, and grains. Eating less and lightly on hot, bright days is a natural, healthful practice, a pattern easily forgotten when we neither pay attention nor change according to our internal rhythms.
When conditions of heat become lodged in the interior of the body due to a hot climate, poor diet, or other factors, the symptoms and cures are the same as those discussed under “heat” in the Six Divisions. Summer heat, the condition that arises from overexposure to high temperatures, is also summarized at the end of the Six Divisions chapters (page 101). According to the Inner Classic, the following are the major Fire Element correspondences:
“The supernatural forces of Summer create heat in the Heavens and fire on Earth; they create the heart and the pulse within the body . . . the red color, the tongue, and the ability to express laughter . . . they create the bitter flavor, and the emotions of happiness and joy.”
Excerpted from Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, Third Edition by Paul Pitchford. © 2003, North Atlantic Books.