The summer season is ruled by fire! Do you adore the heat or do everything you can to beat it? It likely depends a lot on your individual constitution! In this post, we’re going to dive into some Summer Soul Food – tips to nourish your summer life and stay balanced with the season.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, summer relates to the heart and small intestine. In balance, the season sparks joy, compassion and love, growth and creativity. You may feel your best in terms of focus, creativity, wellbeing and fitness; able to clearly communicate feelings and express ideas. You may also find any digestive issues may decrease/disappear in summer.
When imbalanced, summer may elicit feelings of anxiety and restlessness, even as strongly as panic or mania. You may experience this hyperarousal as insomnia, intense dreams, speech issues, addiction, or a general scattered feeling and excessiveness. Additionally, you may suffer from digestive issues during this time.
Depending on your individual constitution, you may naturally feel discomfort or totally revel in summer’s heat!
In Ayurvedic practice, summer is a mainly Pitta season – hot and dry. We can naturally balance this by incorporating cooling, hydrating foods. You are likely already drawn to these foods as they are fresh and abundant this time of year! Flavours to include are bitter, astringent, and a little sweet. TCM also points to red, green and purple foods to nourish the heart during this time.
A Holistic Nutritionist, Ayurvedic practitioner, TCM Doctor or Acupuncturist can help guide you!
Balancing Foods for Summer
Vegetables: cucumber, beets/beet greens, lettuce/all leafy greens (especially the bitter ones!), spring onions, okra, celery, fennel, carrots, tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini
Fruit: all berries, currants, pomegranate, plums, cherries, watermelon, lemon/lime, grapes
Meat: heart organ, fresh fish, all seafood, poultry (white meat)
Legumes: fresh peas, green/yellow beans, lentils, chickpeas
Nuts/Seeds: coconut, hemp hearts, almonds, walnuts, quinoa
Drinks: water, coconut water, herbal teas (chamomile, nettle, hawthorne, hibiscus, spearmint, lemon balm, tulsi, motherwort), black coffee (decaf if you feel that scattered imbalance mentioned above), green tea, cranberry/tart cherry/pomegranate juices, lemonade, iced teas
Scent/Body: similarly, oils of jasmine, rose, sage and lavender are perfect for balancing summer heat in both mind and body. Use in a base of coconut or almond oil, or make a refreshing spritz with aloe and witch hazel.
More Summer Soul Food – Mind + Body
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.
While “mindfulness” is a popular phrase these days, it simply translates to being considerate. As a very heart-centred practice, it’s perfect for summer. You might start with a simple consideration of your own feelings and needs. Secondly, the feelings and needs of others, then perhaps thirdly, how you show up in life and for the earth. Once you consider these things, your mindfulness might turn into more concrete actions – setting boundaries with yourself and others, learning how to say no (or yes!), being a more conscious consumer, trusting your intuition, becoming more confident, feeling gratitude, etc.
Naturally cultivate joy and light-heartedness by practicing gratitude towards what you already have. Incorporating this into a current habit will help you do this consistently. Try thinking of 1-3 things you are grateful for every time you brush your teeth, or when you make a cup of tea or coffee. You can even start with simply being grateful for having teeth (or coffee/tea)!
Bring joy back to the forefront and rediscover play! Whenever possible, join your kids in a game of make believe or tag, or maybe you enjoy playing a sport (especially if you play for fun) with a group of friends. Do you like exploring in the woods and gleefully exclaiming over every flower and mushroom? Maybe you have the absolute best time splashing colourful paint on a large canvas, or delicately carving little wooden creatures. Anything that elicits a smile or giggle can do wonders for your heart and overall well being!
Trying new things helps us to grow as individuals, inviting expansion of our thoughts and abilities. This eventually expands our humanity. Take a class, volunteer in your community, travel, try new foods, or start a garden.
Indulge in the process, rather than seeking constant stimulation. Summer is a naturally stimulating and energetic season, and it can be easy to overdo it a bit. However, over-stimulation drains us of energy, causing burnout and low heart-energy. Slowing down and savouring life can help you keep your balance.