As we move away from the heat of the summer sun and into the cooler months of autumn, a change in sustenance is called for. While summer is a time to emphasize cooling foods and drinks - big garden salads, fresh juices, raw fruits and vegetables, and cooling beverages - autumn is altogether different. Beginning with the autumn equinox in late-September, this season brings with it an invitation to move toward warmer, denser fare. Autumn is a time of transition - seasonal, physical, and emotional. Eating seasonally can support the body and allow for a smooth, enjoyable season in body, mind, and spirit.
According to Alex Tan, L.AC., "the three months of autumn are in charge of withering and of decelerating the momentum of growth. Autumn is traditionally known as the harvest season, a wonderful time for reaping the benefits of the long, warm growing season provided by spring and summer. It is the time for our bodies to harvest and gather energy for the colder months ahead."
So how do we gather this energy in our bodies? Autumn is the time to begin eating slightly heartier meals - porridges, soups, and the inclusion of warming herbs and spices make autumn eating a true joy. If you've lost a few pounds during the summer, you may gain a few of them back. As long as you're enjoying fresh, whole foods (and not daily, sugary pumpkin-spiced beverages;), you can be assured this is your body's way of preparing for the slower, cooler months. Relax, appreciate nature's wisdom, and go with the flow...
Okay, heartier foods for autumn - got it. But how do I know what to buy at the store? How to I stay true to autumn in my kitchen?
A good way to gauge what's in season is to make your local farmers your allies in the quest to eat seasonally. Most every community hosts a bustling farmers market. And guess what: they are waiting to teach you about their beautiful produce! You really can't eat out-of-season when you are in tune with the market. Here's what you might find (depending upon your region):
Brassica Family (Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts , Cabbage, and Cauliflower)
Hearty Greens (Collard Greens, Kale, Swiss Chard)
There is an abundance of health-supportive foods to choose from!
Including more beautiful seasonal vegetables and fruits into your daily diet can provide the immune system with the boost it needs as seasons change. Now is the perfect time to strengthen and support the body - before the harsh cold of winter takes hold. And we can do it very well with our food choices!
Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that autumn correlates to the lung system, which connects to the skin and immunity (among other things). The dryness of autumn can cause not only dry skin and hair, but an itchy, dry throat and nose, as well as dry stools (constipation). So autumn calls for foods that lubricate the body, protecting it from the dry winds of autumn and preparing it for the coming cold of winter. Almonds, walnuts, and sesame seeds are great (in small servings) for lubricating bodily tissues and providing a feeling of being grounded. A bowl of warm cereal such as steel-cut oats or steamed millet with honey gives the body the fluids it needs in this drier climate - and they provide warmth and satisfaction on cooler mornings. Enjoying fresh soups with hearty ingredients such as onion, ginger, garlic, pumpkin, potato, and winter squash also supports the body as it makes the transition from warm, long days to chilly, long nights.
What is your favorite autumn dish? How does it support your body's well-being today?