Autumn is a season of transition, letting go, and gathering in. In this season, we’re beginning to contract inwards from the expansiveness of spring and summer, and settle in for winter, with energy moving downward to our feet. This Autumn Evolution, as I like to think of it, can feel fresh and exciting, or low and depressing, depending on how in balance you are at this moment, and your unique experience.
Below are some useful holistic nutrition and wellness tips to support you as you move through autumn, leaning in and letting go.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, autumn relates to the lung and large intestine meridians, the element is metal, and the colour is white. White may apply to foods consumed, “white space” in your calendar, or a general “clearing out” quality.
The lung system is generally associated with Qi, respiration, the voice, connects with the heart and blood vessels, connects with the “exterior” via the skin, nose and large intestine, and is affected the most by grief. Both the lung and large intestine are subject to dryness.
In the Ayurvedic tradition, autumn is a mainly Vata season, ruled by elements of air and wind, with cool, clear, light, rough (dry), and mobile attributes. I think of Vata attributes as flitting about my head, light as a feather, and unwilling to settle down.
You can see the correlations between the two – think of a crisp and frosty morning or dry leaves blowing around you.
In balance, we can easily bend with the season (like metal), adapting to the changes fluidly and without breaking. We may feel called to slow down, get quiet or introspective, or lean on our community a little more, and give back in a way that feels nourished and supported. You may find it easier to focus, as you gently move from expansive to contractive practices.
When imbalanced, autumn may elicit feelings of grief, depression, or low self-esteem that you may find difficult to shake off. Focusing on tasks may become difficult and anxiety may increase. You may experience more colds and sinus issues, chronic asthma, or skin issues such as eczema, dryness, or acne. More constipation, “wind”, or other digestive upsets are also common.
To support your Autumn Evolution, you might use warming and pungent foods to prevent damp phlegm and stimulate digestion, sweet, sour and salty flavours to stay grounded, and nourishing oils to moisten and keep the colon and skin happy.
Remember that moderation is key, and any food or quality in excess will cause imbalances – you are welcome to book a consult with me for guidance!
Supportive Foods for Autumn
Vegetables: roots: dandelion/burdock, Jerusalem artichoke, daikon radish, parsnip, turnip, carrot, potato, sweet potato, onion, etc.; cabbage, cauliflower, water chestnut, cilantro, kale, leek, mushrooms, squash, pumpkin, okra
Fruit: apple, crabapple, pear, apricot, blueberry, lingonberry, cranberry, cherry, plantain, dates
Meat: whitefish, herring, cod, scallops, all poultry (white and dark meat), kidney, bone broth,
Dairy: eggs, yoghurt, kefir
Legumes: navy, canelli, mung bean, miso
Nuts/Seeds: flax seed, pumpkin seed, sesame, hemp heart, almond, walnut, cashew
Grains: oat, amaranth, millet, rice
Drinks: warm water, apple cider, cider vinegar in warm water, herbal tea (nettle, slippery elm, marshmallow, echinacea, elderberry/flower, chamomile, rooibos, chai, ginger, dandelion/burdock root), golden (turmeric) milk, decaf coffee with cardamom and cream or coconut milk
Scent/Body: similarly, oils of neroli, citrus, rosemary and geranium are lovely for balancing autumn dryness and uplifting feelings of grief. Use in a base of shea butter, sesame or rosehip oil.
More Autumn Evolution Tips
Of course, we can nourish ourselves with more than food! Living holistically is a natural way to keep a balance or homeostasis, resulting in better resilience and returning to centre when life inevitably goes sideways.
Gratitude: Let Go + Gather In
Appropriately, it’s the season of thanksgiving! A traditional time to gather with community, share our gratitude for the year’s harvest, and prepare for the winter months. Taking a few minutes a day to think about what we’re grateful for can be a powerful tool for creating a positive mindset shift, making it easier to let go of things that are no longer needed or working for us. Gratitude also clearly shows us all the positive things that we can then gather in towards us and expand upon!
Singing, chanting, and breathwork are perfect tools for Autumn and balancing the lung system! These actions not only open the lungs and the nose to increased air flow and respiration, but also stimulate the vagus nerve. Improving vagal tone with regular appropriate stimulation can improve resiliency, mood, and overall health. Check out this article to learn more!
While our energies are contracting with the season, it’s important to keep up some mindful movement to encourage free flow and avoid stagnation. Depending on your abilities and overall goals, you might consider bringing in more moderate exercises with a meditative flow. Think yoga, TaiChi, Qi Gong, or simple walking. I love to ramble in the woods, giving my eyes a rest as I breathe in the fresh crisp air. A slow stretch routine before bed is also so lovely and comforting.
Ultimately, we are entering a season of slowness and rest – so lean in! Now is the season to pick up those creative hand projects like art, knitting, weaving, whittling, pottery, etc. Read that stack of books you picked up on your summer touring. Journal. Set intentions. Extend your sleep time to acknowledge the darker season. However you rest best is perfect as you evolve from summer you to winter you.
However you experience autumn, I hope you are able to carve out moments of calm and loveliness. I am especially enjoying the gorgeous colours we’re experiencing this year! If the tips in this article help you out, let me know in the comments, are share with a friend!
If you need some extra support this season, I would love to support you! You can book a consult here. I’m looking forward to connecting soon.