It is an ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine practice to prepare for the upcoming season ahead of time. While most of us have been sitting on the couch or working at our desk this winter, it’s now time to lighten up our foods and get moving in order to avoid typical spring health issues like allergies and joint aches. Below Letha Hadady, D.Ac., a leading expert on natural health and beauty treatments, best-selling author and faculty at Academy of Healing Nutrition shares how we can transition our diet from winter to spring for elevated energy and wellbeing.
Food temperatures and food energetics
Foods affect our energy, our body functions and our mood. Some foods are warming and energizing and others cooling and cleansing. To prepare for spring, it is advised to swap winter stews in favour of cooler, greener, lighter foods.
Food flavours and food energetics
Certain food flavours have typically been used to achieve balanced digestion and elimination. For example, often cleansing foods are sour, pungent and bitter such as lemon, bitter leafy greens and ginger lemon green tea. Here are some delicious food suggestions to help us ease from winter into spring.
10 foods to transition from darkness and inactivity to light and action:
Berries/Cherries: Red berries, blueberries and cherries are a delicious source of iron for improving blood and circulation. Due to their dark, rich pigment, they naturally contain a bountiful amount of antioxidants to boost energy, immunity and fight free radical damage. Tart cherries contain natural melatonin which can improve sleep patterns too.
Teas: All teas (white, green, pu’er, oolong or black teas) provide a valuable source of antioxidants and other natural chemicals that improve digestion and mood such as L-theanine which has been shown to slow caffeine absorption and encourage prolonged, sustained focus and energy.
Whole grains: Whole grains have been recommended since the time of Hippocrates as a source of nutrition and to balance blood sugar levels. Useful spring grains include millet, barley, quinoa and oats. Soak the grains in water and 1 tsp of lemon juice for at least 5 hours to remove irritating acids.
Greens: Greens are generally cleansing, cooling, and detoxifying for the liver because they can encourage the flow of bile which is digestive and laxative. Cleansing bitter green foods may help to reduce allergies and harmful cholesterol too. Good examples are foods like cabbage, kale, parsley, spinach and zucchini. Choosing high fibre greens like cruciferous veg and things like celery will also aid good digestion.
Select proteins: Many animal sources of protein like red meat can be hard to digest and heavy on the stomach so it is recommended to opt for lighter, plant-based proteins like tofu, chia seeds and quinoa or high-welfare organic eggs which provide a healthy dose of protein as well as fat.
Cooling, moistening proteins: if you like to incorporate some animal sources of protein then fish and lean white meat like chicken are the ones to choose. Steaming and sautéing are the best ways to prepare foods in spring because they do not dry food the way broiling or roasting does.
Tofu and Tempeh: These protein foods also support calcium needs. They are cooling and moistening and easy to prepare
Bean sprouts: Sprouts are the kernel of nutrition that becomes the plant. It contains all the necessary nutrition to support plant growth and are a great addition to a spring diet. A Chinese saying is: “Eat mung bean sprouts in spring and summer and live a long time.”
Bee pollen: Baring allergies, eating 1 tsp. of bee pollen daily surprisingly provides all necessary amino acids while 40% of it’s profile is made up of protein.
Detoxifying Foods/Herbs. These are useful for (internal) Spring Cleaning:
- Neem tree bark powder added to coffee. Neem leaf and bark are a detoxifying Ayurvedic herb that is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal. The bark powder is not as bitter as the leaf.
- Nettle leaf tea is an antihistamine useful for runny eyes, allergies to pollen and cat fur.
- Pumpkin seed, clove, and a little garlic are anti-parasite. Use them in tea or in homemade whole-grain crackers.
Want to learn more about holistic health and wellbeing? Academy Healing Nutrition’s Holistic Health Coach Certificate Programme training starts 20th March. Click here to find out more.