By Sarah Shupe Hung L.Ac., Jul 17 2019 07:07PM
Healthy eating tips for the summer are a little tricky.
Since the weather is warm, you need light, cooling foods. Juicy peaches, sweet
watermelons, tomatoes hot off the vine… The right foods are easy to find. One trip
through your garden or a walk through a farmer’s market and you’ll have the perfect
But since you’re outside exercising and working in the garden, you build up an appetite. You work hard and play hard. You crave calories to keep the fire burning. Are cucumbers the first food you reach for after rototilling the garden? Probably not.
Unfortunately, many times craving calories trumps craving fresh food. You satisfy your appetite with a meal of tortilla chips and soda. Or brats and beer. Or hamburgers and ice cream. And afterward you feel full, bloated and hot.
Fortunately there is a solution. It is possible to eat well, have energy and avoid feeling bloated.
The trick is in the timing.
With an easy tweak to your natural summer diet, you’ll feel fantastic.
General Guidelines to Follow the Entire Year:
Eat only real foods – ask yourself if your grandmother or great-grandmother would recognize it.
Stay as close to the source as possible – ex. Whole milk , Whole egg, Full fat
Eat protein and fat with every meal
Eat as many vegetable as you can – You cannot get enough!
Restrict Sugar – you can cannot restrict this enough!
Avoid Modern Processed Oils – in salad dressings, processed foods, and restaurant foods.
These oils have often been processed using high heat and chemicals.
Introduce Healthy Fats into Diet – butter, coconut oil, animal fats, cold-pressed oils like olive oil
(don't heat olive oil, just pour it on salads or cooked veggies).
Eat a Variety of Foods – try not to eat the same thing 2 days in a row.
Eat fermented Foods – sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kombucha, kefir
Summer Eating Tips
It should come as no surprise that I recommend eating lots of vegetables and moderate fruit in the summer. In fact, I recommend eating vegetables and fruit all year, but in the summer they are especially important.
Summer is a yang season and is associated with the fire element. Fire governs the heart and small intestine. When fire is balanced within the body, the heart governs and circulates the blood properly and the intestines properly digest food. Emotionally you are balanced, sensitive and enthusiastic. You feel good.
There are a few simple guidelines to keep fire balanced.
1. Focus on cooling yin foods. Fruits and vegetables (especially green vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers and watercress) are yin. For protein, eat fish or seafood instead of meat. Smoothies and salads are yin and are excellent summer meals. Melons are also a great way to cool the body during the summer months.
2.Eat moderately. Avoid huge meals.
3. Eat bitter foods. Bitter foods support the fire element. Coffee, tea and chocolate (without sugar) are all bitter and moderate amounts of them are appropriate for summer health. This is the season you can call your coffee a health food. Asparagus, bitter greens like kale, arugula or escarole, celery and rhubarb are all good foods for the summer.
Eat Big in the Afternoon
If you focus on yin and bitter foods, your diet is cooling and light. But what happens when you need more energy than a slice of watermelon provides?
This is when the timing of your meals matters.
If you need a heavier meal, eat it in the mid to late afternoon instead of for dinner. “Picnic time” is the best time to fuel up. By avoiding a big meal late in the day or at night, your digestive system will get a much needed break. This is especially beneficial if you suffer from issues like, bloating, feeling of fullness in the abdomen, and indigestion.
A healthy summer eating plan starts with breakfast. Some ideas for light meals: a serving of fruit combined with full-fat yogurt and crushed nuts; a smoothie with a serving of fruit and/or veggies combined with fat and protein, such as yogurt, avacado, and/or nut butter; eggs cooked how you like with salad greens drizzled with olive oild and balsmaic vinegar.
Have a small salad for lunch, again combined with a healthy fat and protein. Eat your heavy meal later in the afternoon and end your day with another light meal or snack, like veggies with hummus or guacamole, nut butter on a piece of toast, or one of the light meals listed above.
By eating mostly fresh, light, wet foods and including a heavy meal only in the afternoon, you will help your fire burn bright but not out of control. You’ll feel light, cool and energized. Your heart, circulation and digestion will be strong. You won’t feel bloated or full.
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses nutrition as a tool to maintain health and promote healing. Eating a yin diet with your heavy meal in the late afternoon is good general advice, but your constitution may need a slightly different routine. The proportion of yin food matters and varies from person to person. To get the best summer eating tips, contact me and together we’ll make a plan that’s perfect for you.