Alternative Medicine: Seasonal eating in spring



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April 13, 2007  
Filed under Uncategorized



Seattle Post Intelligencer – Diet therapy in traditional Chinese medicine is based on the principle that humans are an inherent part of nature. One way to align with nature is eating according to seasons, for as the natural world fluctuates with seasonal changes, so do we. Spring is the time for growth and renewal. As it approaches, Chinese diet theory suggests we should consume foods that help transition into this season:

# Leafy green vegetables (chard, spinach, kale, mustard greens, bok choi)

# Young plants such as asparagus, pea shoots and chives

# Sprouted beans and grains (alfalfa, clover, mung bean sprouts, wheat grass)

# Flavorful herbs like rosemary, dill, and basil

# Light teas: green, rosebud or chrysanthemum

In Chinese medicine, such foods are filled with the energy of spring and particularly useful as we enter this season. Best ways to prepare these foods are lightly steaming or sauteing (cooking briefly over high heat), so they retain the most nutrients and are easier to digest.

It also is appropriate during spring to avoid heavy foods, since they tend to bring the body into a sinking, passive, inward-moving state. Foods to avoid in spring:

# Heavy or fatty meats

# Greasy or oily foods

# Foods high in salt

For traditional Chinese dietary recommendations suited to your constitution, seek the advice of a qualified practitioner. One great resource for Chinese diet therapy is Paul Pitchford’s “Healing With Whole Foods.” There you will find more details about seasonal eating.

By Ara Jane Olufson, acupuncture and Oriental medicine resident, Bastyr University Center for Natural Health

Bastyr is a non-profit, private university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees, with a multidisciplinary curriculum in science-based natural medicine. The university’s Seattle teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health, is the Northwest’s largest natural medicine clinic. Go to bastyr.edu or bastyrcenter.org.