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TCM Foods for Fall

What to Eat in the Fall

Did you know that eating pumpkin or barley soup or even a crisp apple in the fall can be optimal for your health? 

In fact, these traditional fall foods have a history that dates back thousands of years. They are the most important foods among others that you should be consuming during this time of year.

Learning about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods have their own specific energy and characteristics. The foods you ingest will either keep your body balanced or create an imbalance. This imbalance will lead to sickness and even sadness.

What exactly is Traditional Chinese Medicine? Also known as TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine is a practice that has been around for more than 2,500 years. It includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, exercise and diet. According to TCM, there is a direct connection between the mind, body and spirit. The foods you ingest can create an imbalance between all three. In return, this will cause sickness. It’s best to use the foods you eat as a tool to harmonize the body, mind and spirit.

Common Fall and Winter Ailments

With autumn in full swing, it’s imperative to ward off common ailments. Itchy throats, dry noses, chapped lips and rough skin are common fall annoyances. Also, according to TCM, erratic emotions like sadness and grief are not far behind. Foods eaten in the fall should promote lubrication in the body. This will help eradicate these issues. The TCM practice believes a good start is eating pears, apples and persimmons. These fruits have tons of water and help moisten the body.

 

Best Foods To Eat in the Fall

The Five Elements and the Body

According to TCM, the lung system, the colon and fall are correlated.  The metal element is responsible for governing fall. The lungs and the colon are responsible for governing the metal element.  If you’re not familiar with TCM, you may be reading this and saying, “What?! What does metal have to do with my body?” So let’s break that down a bit more. According to TCM, the body is a smaller version of the world. They contain all the same elements and energies found on earth. The world has five elements. These elements are metal, wood, water, fire and earth. Each organ and emotion is connected to a different element and emotion. Due to these circumstances, your body should change to match the element for each season. Once your diet changes, the way you think, grieve and function should follow suit.

The Metal/fall element governs your mind, organization, order and stability. Lungs govern the metal element, the respiratory system, skin, hair and body fluids. Also, it controls your metabolism, immune systems, emotion, grief and blood circulation. The colon’s duty is to get rid of waste in the final stages of digestion.

The lungs and colon work together as a team while taking in all things pure and getting rid of all waste. If the lungs or the colon are not balanced, then you will experience sickness. This includes bronchitis, shortness of breath, constipation and diarrhea. And don’t forget the common cold. These are only a few of the ailments you will experience. All these are apart of your mind, body and spirit. So in autumn, you have to be aware of any causes that may disrupt that flow. Food and herbs are a major aspect of keeping that balance.

Beneficial Foods

Eating foods like pears and apples ensure balance. According to TCM practices, in the fall, pungent foods and herbs will induce perspiration. These foods will also stimulate and clear the lungs. Conjunctively, consuming sour foods, with astringent properties, prevent the loss of body fluids. 

Pungent Foods and Herbs to Eat

  • Ginger
  • Bay leaves
  • Capers
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric
  • Cabbage
  • Watercress
  • Turnip
  • Horseradish
  • Navy Beans
  • Peppers
  • Barley
  • Spinach
  • Pork
  • Porridge

Some sour foods are pineapple, lemon, apples and grapefruit. Other popular foods are mustard greens, eggs, broccoli, yogurt, plums, bananas and apricots.

For some, preparing for fall and winter means only unpacking winter garments or stocking up with canned goods. But, with more knowledge of TCM practices, you know how important it is to ingest the right foods. Keeping your body prepared for this season also means steering clear of summer foods. Cooling foods like smoothies, salads and pop-sickles are great for summer. But they are not ideal for fall and winter. Using the list above, aim to prepare slow-cooked dishes. Soups, beans and pickled vegetables are a great way to start using these foods and herbs.  Also, it’s is imperative to drink lots of fluids, specifically water. This helps to battle dryness. As a final tip, stay active, eat fiber and avoid processed foods. This will prep your mind, body and spirit for the upcoming icy digits.