In TCM, summer corresponds to the fire element. It is a season characterised by warmth, heat, and the energy of the sun. This element is associated with the heart, small intestine, pericardium, and triple warmer meridians, which play crucial roles in regulating the body's functions during this season.
The Characteristics of Summer:
Heat and Yang Energy: Summer represents the peak of Yang energy, which is associated with warmth, light, and activity. Yang energy is at its most powerful during this season, which is why people feel more energetic and lively.
Expansion: This is a time for expansion and growth. Nature is abundant with lush greenery, and this expansion is reflected in TCM as well. It's a time when the body's Yang energy expands, leading to better circulation and increased metabolic activity.
Joy and Happiness: The heart is the organ associated with the fire element, and it's considered the Emperor of the body in TCM. In summer, the heart's energy is at its height, promoting joy, laughter, and a sense of well-being.
Nourishing the Spirit: The season of summer is a great time to nurture the spirit. This can be done by engaging in activities that bring joy such as connecting with loved ones or enjoying the outdoors.
Balancing Your Body in Summer:
Diet: TCM advises that in summer, we should focus on foods that help clear heat and nourish Yin energy, as excessive heat can lead to imbalances. Opt for cooling foods such as watermelon, cucumbers, and mint. Additionally, avoid greasy/fried foods, which can further heat the body.
Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is crucial in summer, as it helps to maintain a balance of Yin and Yang energies. Consider drinking herbal teas such as chrysanthemum or green tea, which have cooling properties.
Sun Protection: While the sun is essential for generating Yang energy, excessive sun exposure can lead to overheating. Remember to wear light, breathable clothing to avoid overheating.
Stay Active: Summer is a time for increased physical activity. Engage in outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, or yoga to promote the flow of energy in your body and maintain balance.
Emotional Well-being: Embrace the joy of summer and cultivate positive emotions. Engage in mindfulness practices, meditation, and relaxation techniques to promote mental and emotional well-being.
Cultivating Qi This Summer
by Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ryan Whatford
In the beginning of the summer months, the 22nd of December marks the longest day of the year. In TCM it is said that during this time, Qi expands to the far reaches of our most superficial/surface level channels. As our Qi is more active on the outside, it is considered to be more Yang in nature. For this reason, it only makes sense for our bodies to become more active during the summer months. This theory is true, to a degree.
Due to Melbourne being Melbourne, the beginning of our current summer hasn’t brought much sun or warmth, with the season erring on the cooler side this year, following more of a spring weather pattern. Therefore, when the warmth of the sun, or the Qi of the environment is not available for us to lean into, expand or enjoy, it is wise to take rest. This is due to the fact that less warmth in the environment means less energy available to us. The best way to cultivate Qi in these circumstances is to rest, eat warm cooked foods and generally take it easier when it comes to work, exercise and most importantly stress load. However, when the sun comes out again, it will be wise to go outside and receive energy from the environment’s warmth and Qi. Resting when the sun is shining is more likely to deplete our energy in the summer.
When the warmer weather hits and the days become longer, I always make sure to tell patients of mine who are depleted, to become as active as possible. This is the best time to cultivate, build and harvest the environment’s energy by bringing it into the body. The aim is to gather as much as we can now, over the early-late summer and autumn months, in order to cultivated Qi stores and carry us through winter. Qi accumulates and has an overflow effect, resulting in feelings of being full, vibrant and replete by extending to extra channels and storing itself for those rainy days. I compare this to the example of taking a holiday in a sunny destination for over 2 weeks and feeling energised for at least a month after returning home, as Qi storage is full. When that energy is used up during summer, this may indicate that it’s time for another holiday, some more exposure to the sun, warm food, acupuncture and herbs to assist in cultivating this Qi.
With this said, it’s sunny today and the forecast this afternoon is cloudy, so I’m going to spend my day outside, making sure I’m hydrated, with a full belly of food to strengthen my blood. Once my blood and Qi are nice and warm, and my cup is overflowing, I will continue to remain charged and will be able to provide the strength and support that my clients need from me as well as maybe spend some of that energy on the long list of summer activities I have in store for myself.
Warmly, Dr. Ryan
Mindful Eating and Avoiding Overindulgence During Sunny Season
by Naturopath, Tam Philippe
Overindulging, especially during the sunny months can be a common concern, particularly when Christmas and New Year are added into the mix. Who can resist nibbling on cheese and dips with friends and loved ones when it’s sunny?
Here are some mindful eating strategies to help when trying to avoid eating for the sake of eating and prevent overindulgence:
Practice Mindful Eating: Pay attention to your body's hunger and fullness cues. Eat slowly, savour each bite, and listen to your body when it tells you it's full. Put your fork down between bites and engage in conversation to slow down the eating pace.
Stay Hydrated: Sometimes, feelings of hunger can be mistaken for thirst. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Before reaching for a snack, try to drink a glass of water and see if the hunger subsides.
Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods: Opt for whole, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods are more filling and provide essential nutrients, making you less likely to overeat.
Plan Your Indulgences: If you know you'll be attending social events with indulgent foods, plan your meals accordingly. Eat balanced, nutritious meals before the event, so you're less likely to overindulge in unhealthy snacks.
Be Mindful of Portion Sizes: Be aware of portion sizes, especially when dining out or at social gatherings. Restaurants and events often serve larger portions than necessary. Consider sharing dishes with others or asking for a smaller portion.
Practice Intuitive Eating: Listen to your body and eat when you're hungry. Similarly, stop eating when you're satisfied, not when you're overly full. Tune into your body's signals and respect them.
Manage Stress: Stress can lead to emotional eating and overindulgence. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or spending time in nature. Engaging in these activities can help prevent stress-related eating
Stay Active: Regular physical activity can help regulate your appetite and improve your mood. Aim for regular exercise, even during the summer months, to support your overall well-being. Walk to the shops for your coffee, have a swim at the beach, or jump on your bike to get milk and bread.
Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself and avoid self-criticism if you find yourself overindulging occasionally. Remember that one indulgent meal or snack doesn't define your overall health. Acknowledge it, move on, and focus on making healthier choices moving forward.
Seek Support: If you find it challenging to manage your eating habits, consider talking to a naturopath. We can provide personalised guidance and support to help you over what can be a busy and stressful time of the year.
GIFT YOUR LOVED ONE A VOUCHER IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS
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