Eat in Season
Honor Your Body, the third principle of Power Living, is about maximizing your physical energy for peak performance and optimum health. One key way to do this is to eat strategically – managing your energy flow throughout the day by following the 7 Rules of PWR Eating:
- Eat Variety
- In Season
- For A Good Reason
- In Smart Combinations
- No Imitations
- In Moderation
- Without Deprivation
One of these rules is to choose foods in season. From Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda to African and Native American traditions, seasonal eating has been a practice of many indigenous and ancient cultures. In today’s modern world, it’s easy to have all foods year-round. However, seasonal eating allows you to be in harmony with the environment and the cycles of nature. Learn how to eat for each season:
Just as we focus on cleaning out the closets for spring, the equinox in March signals a time of renewal and reminds us to cleanse the body. Spring is associated with the element Wood, according to the Taoist Five Element Theory. Wood is the energetic force that governs the health and functionality of your gallbladder and liver. The gallbladder stores and secretes bile for digestion, especially for the breakdown of fats. The liver is the body’s principal organ of detoxification, filtering unusable materials from the blood. Both organs are critical to maintaining health.
Restore your body with some of these spring cleansing foods:
- Asparagus – low in sodium, packed with fiber and potassium, and a leading supplier of folic acid
- Dandelion – blood and kidney cleanser and tonic, as well as a diuretic
- Lemons/Limes – excellent source of vitamin C, vital to the function of a strong immune system
- Strawberries – an anti-cancer, anti-imflammatory fruit packed with antioxidants
- Rhubarb – rich source of fiber, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium; used as a laxative and blood cleanser in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains such as quinoa and millet. Reduce red meat and dairy, as well as processed foods. Go for a fresh herb salad with lemon and olive oil dressing. Have a cup of dandelion herbal tea as a cleanser. Make some refreshing lavendar lemonade. Try a different kind of soup, such as Asparagus Soup. It is important to lighten up from the heavy winter foods, supporting the body with lots of liquids to help release toxins.
In the summer, it’s time to enjoy cooling foods – water-filled fruits and vegetables. Summer is associated with the element Fire, according to the Taoist Five Element Theory. Fire is the energetic force that governs the health and functionality of your heart and small intestines, as well as the functions of circulation and heating in the body. It is important to cut back on refined foods and animal fats to allow these organs to restore themselves.
Lighten up with some of these summer power foods:
- Berries – delicious and packed with antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C
- Tomatoes and Peppers – antioxidant-filled sources of fiber, vitamin A, C, and lycopene
- Leafy Greens – from baby field greens to mustard greens, they provide an array of nutrients including fiber, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, folic acid and chlorophyll
- Mushrooms – the no-fat cancer-fighters, high in riboflavin and niacin
- Beans – nutrient-rich sources of fiber, iron and protein
- Sweet Onions – cancer-fighters rich in flavonoids and vitamin B
Give the heart and small intestine a rest by easing up on the meat, cheese and eggs. Instead of ice cream, make your own fruit smoothie combinations. Gardens are overflowing with fresh, live foods for cleansing and restoring the body. Visit a farmer’s market or produce stand and toss up an Italian Leafy Green Salad. Salads capture the essence of summer. Test out the grapeseed oil. It’s packed with antioxidants and is high in vitamin E, C and beta-carotene.
Fall is a transition period. According to the Taoist Five Element Theory, mid-August to the equinox of September 21st is associated with the Earth element. It is the most stable of the five elements and governs the stomach and spleen. It is a beautiful time of balance before we move into the dormant cycle. As autumn comes, the days grow shorter, energy contracts, and we begin to go within.
This Fall period, through the winter solstice of December 21st, is associated with the element Metal. Metal is the energetic force that governs the health and functionality of your large intestines and the lungs. The large intestines are about elimination or letting go, and the lungs are about taking in fresh air (and life force).
In the Fall, it’s time to enjoy warming foods – nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. Add some of these power foods to your menu:
- Onion – rich in sulfer-containing compounds, chromium, flavonoids and inflammation-fighting quercitin
- Squash – cancer-fighting delight packed with fiber, vitamin B, C and potassium
- Pumpkin – loaded with minerals and antioxidant carotenoids, as well as vitamins A, C, K, and E
- Apples – cholesterol-fighting, bone-strengthening favorite that may also prevent cancer
- Beets – fiber-packed wonder rich in iron, calcium, phosperous, magnesium, viatmin A, C and folic acid
One of the best Fall treats is a plate of home-made Natural Applesauce. You can use any kind of apple except Red Delicious or summer-harvested apples such as Lodi, Tydeman Red, and Puritan. Blending several types gives the best flavor.
In the winter, it’s time to enjoy warming foods – more starches, proteins and sturdy greens. Winter is associated with the element Water, according to the Taoist Five Element Theory. Water is the energetic force that governs the health and functionality of your kidneys and bladder. It is important to focus on certain foods, herbs and exercises to strengthen these organs.
Add some of the winter power foods to your menu, such as:
- Garlic – the great anti-bacterial, anti-viral natural healer
- Ginger – an anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory wonder
- Kale – a cancer-fighting immune-builder
- Sweet Potato – a low-fat, high-fiber immune booster
- Cranberries – the great low-fat antioxidant-filled urinary tract infection fighters
If you drink coffee, consider drinking herbal tea or decaffeinated coffee, since caffeine is hard on the kidneys. Have a Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad and some Kale Chili. Instead of French Fries, have some Sweet Potato Fries. One of the best winter treats is a plate of Roasted Root Vegetables. The veggies get sweeter as they bake. It’s a great snack – and it’s been teen-tested!
Remember, fruits and vegetables in season are cheaper, and taste better because of their shorter commute!
Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy.
Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy is a Harvard Business School-trained Strategist, Mind-Body Expert, Award-Winning Author, Keynote Speaker and Activist. She is Founder & CEO of Power Living and creator of Elder Dignity. Selected as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, her mission is to unleash human potential and create a more just and sustainable world.
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