Spring’s natural energy is to lighten up and move forward, shaking off the deep, slumbering and contemplative state of winter and the foods of spring perfectly support this. They give the body a break from the heavier and fattier foods of winter. It’s time to get up and go. This is also one of the best times of year to do a cleanse or an appropriate fast.
General tips for Spring eating
Simplify your food preparation – Unless you are treating a specific pattern this is the time of year to simplify your food preparation. Move to steamed vegetables and quicker cooked foods. Yes, soups are still appropriate move them to clearer broths with less meat or lentils and add the vegetables in at the last or at the table. Raw foods stimulate the Liver and can be used by those who are in good health. Check with your Chinese medicine practitioner to see if raw is okay for your particular patterns.
Eat a little less – To shed off the excess of winter’s foods and energetics. Spring is a fantastic time to reset your food boundaries.
Adjust your fats – Yes, we need fat, but likely you may have been over indulging through the winter months. Gall Bladder and Liver are the organs corresponding to the spring season and they easily become overly congested and burned by excess fats. Trimming your daily intake or even going without for a few days can work wonders. Also, make sure to include healthier fats like olive oil and grape seed oil. Yes, coconut oil is very popular right now. But I am not a proponent that it is perfect for everyone, energetically it can be a bit too cloying and damp, so it can be a problem in those with damp conditions. There’s also this problem of location–I live in Idaho, we don’t have a lot of coconuts and sustainability is a priority in my lifestyle. I use more olive oil which can be sourced closer to home, is more neutral and less congesting that some other oils.
Move out the chemicals, processed and refined foods – It’s all about clearing. The more these foods are out of the diet the less work the Liver has to do with cleaning.
Sprouts – Spring’s little powerhouses. Sprouts possess all the energetic and nutrient potential of the plant they will become. Easy to digest, possessing little if any fats they are high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Add them to salads, toss them into stir fry or add them soups at the last minutes. Try a variety too! Alfalfa, mung bean, sunflower sprouts…oh–yum!
Young greens – Beet greens, dandelion, arugula, baby lettuce, watercress, bok choi, spinach, all the baby greens are beautiful for the Liver and Gall Bladder. The fiber contained in leaves also clears the Colon of excess phlegm that makes it hard for our bodies to regulate blood sugar, drop weight and clear toxins.
Spring vegetables and herbs – Just beautiful. Peas, beets, radishes, fiddle fern, nettles, watercress, asparagus, wheat grass and barley grass. The pungent herbs are some of the first foods to appear in the garden too like sorrel and chicory. Chlorophyll foods are essential for Blood health.
Spring meats – If you eat animal proteins reduce or cut them down for a while. A little chicken, lamb and small fish are considered spring meats. As always, please make sure your sources are clean and sustainable.
Nuts, seeds and grains – Many nuts would have stored over during the winter, but again, lighten it up a bit. Pistachios are particular to Liver and Gall Bladder. Grains include amaranth, quinoa, rye, and millet.
Sour Foods – The flavor of spring, sour foods stimulate the bile, Qi, Blood and Fluids. Sours include dill, kombucha, pickles, vinegar, kimchi, lemon, lime. rye, romaine, asparagus, quinoa and dandelion. Naturally fermented sour foods are additionally beneficial as their live enzymes improve digestive vitality–sauerkraut anyone? The Gall bladder loves green apples and crab apples. The sour flavor also breaks up fat and helps relieve depression.
Pungents – Sometimes we need an extra kick to keep things flowing – regular use of pungents in the diet will do the trick. Add in spring onions, garlic scallions, radishes and their greens, mustard greens, tumeric, basil, bay, cardomom, jarjoram, cumin, fennel and pepper. Pungents range in a spectrum from cold to hot. Warm and hot pungents benefit those who are cold. And those with heat will benefit from cool pungents like the mints. Find out more here.
Foods that move stagnation – These guys are just beautiful for the Liver and Gall bladder. Beets, taro, sweet rice, amasaki, strawberry, peach, cherry, pinenut, cabbage, turnip root, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts.
Edible blossoms – Yep, they lighten the energy of the body, open the sinuses and clear the mind. Check out violets.
Meditate – This allows the mind to be open increasing the ability to focus, plan, make clear choices and be flexible. Specific forms of Qigong also focus on the Spring energy and clearing the Liver and Gall Bladder.
Move your body – Physical activity will encourage the movement of Qi through the body. It is extremely important to add stretching to our exercise routine and gives us flexibility in our bodies and mind. Exercise that twist the torso open the diaphragm and help the Liver and Gall bladder loosen up and freely flow.
Clear out the past – The more debris and clutter on the ground the longer it takes longer for the crocus and other bulbs to push through. This is true of our lives mentally and physically as well. Maybe it’s time to clean out the closet or old habits?
Consider a cleanse or modified diet – Nutritionally this is a good time to do a gentle cleansing or fasting, with raw vegetables and fruit juices. Cleanses and fasts should be highly personalized based on your goals and physical needs – and there are times when they aren’t appropriate at all. Check with your practitioner to see if this is an option for you.