The energy of Summer is easy to sense. We can see signs of it all around us even before it arrives. Generally, people seem happier and have more energy. We want to get outside and move our bodies more. We may naturally start eating and sleeping a little less. We are literally bursting with joy, the emotion connected to Summer and the element of fire in five-element theory.
We can start making changes in our diet, cooking styles and lifestyle now in mid-May. Ideally, we start these adjustments about six weeks before the start of the next season. Eating in alignment with the season helps build our immune system, makes our bodies more comfortable, helps us feel more connected to nature and our environment and helps support the organs that are more active during certain times of the year. One simple reason a lot of people are too hot during the summer months is because they are still eating a lot of animal foods that tend to be warming in the body and not enough foods that are more cooling.
Spring energy is all upward movement. Envision new sprouts shooting up from the ground heading straight toward the sun. Then Spring transitions beautifully into Summer with its up and out energy. Those new sprouts start to bear fruit and blossom.
Cooking styles aligned with Summer tend toward more quick cooking, more raw food if appropriate for your condition and brothy soups. Gone are the hearty stews of Fall and Winter. They just aren’t as appealing in warmer weather and this makes sense. Stews and longer cooked dishes have a downward, contracting energy. They may make us feel heavy and sluggish in warmer weather. Choose quick sautés, lighter pressed salads (using nappa cabbage and cucumber) and cut vegetables smaller to shorten cooking time.
Some foods that support Summer and the corresponding organs of heart and small intestine are corn (fresh and ground), amaranth, garbanzo beans, red lentils, nori, scallions, red pepper, tomatoes, red berries and cherries.
Another exercise that can be important during this time of year is to really look at what brings you joy and makes your heart sing. Doing more of those things will foster that expansive energy in your life and help your spirit blossom.