Marlene Waston-Tara provides information for flourishing in late summer.
My teaching of Macrobiotics isn’t about a new fad diet or exercise regime but is based on wisdom that has been around for thousands of years. It is the approach that I have used to help thousands of people reclaim their health. This information has always made such common sense to me, and I hope it will for you, too.
The Natural Rhythm
My approach to health is one that is firmly based on the relationship of the natural rhythms of the body to the planet we live on. The cycles of nature, the changing of the seasons, and the rhythm of our daily life — using that insight to create a healthier and happier way of being.
It is also an approach to health and healthy eating that is environmentally sustainable, an aspect that is very important to me. We need this approach now more than ever since we seem to have lost touch with the lessons that nature has to teach us. No matter how much time we spend indoors, protected from the elements in our offices and homes, it is still our relationship with nature that rules our health.
It is the natural world that is our home.
We don’t often hear about late summer as a unique season, but this hasn’t always been the case. In many countries around the world, the transition from summer into autumn was seen as a very specific time of year. It was the time after the harvest and extended through September, but in some places only up until the end of August depending on the local weather. It is that time when the first hints of autumn are present, but the leaves have not yet fallen. Nature is undergoing its last burst of growth, and the energy of this season corresponds to the nurturing Earth element as taught in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The Stomach and Spleen resonate with Late Summer’s energetic vibration. It is therefore a time for settling in and achieving balance; the dramatic energies of spring and summer are waning, and things are beginning to quiet down. The focus here is on strengthening, stabilizing, and getting both feet solidly on the ground.
This is the time of year when “sweet cooking” is recommended. This means that there is more roasting of vegetables so that they caramelize, and the sugars are released. Late fruits, such as pears and apples, are fresh and work well in desserts.
White bean dishes and garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are good choices. In late summer we should be feeling energetic, strong, and confident because rising yin energy has plateaued, relaxed, and surrendered to the descending yang energy. It is the time of year when we prepare ourselves for the coming of cooler weather and the winds.
Delight in the flavours of late summer cooking and learn how to create delicious dishes using the fruits and vegetables of the season. Learn how to apply the Eastern wisdom about late summer in your own cooking for optimum health, nourishment, and vitality.
There may have been a tendency to eat more sugars in the height of the summer in the form of fruits or desserts so the pancreas needs to be soothed. There may also have been a tendency to drink more and deplete mineral stores. The focus on sweet-tasting foods containing complex sugars takes the stress off the pancreas and calms the system. Problems with blood sugar can often be improved very simply by adopting a healthier diet.
The biggest culprit is the overconsumption of simple sugars, such as white sugar, fructose, molasses, and honey. Many men and women with type II diabetes have recovered completely by establishing the kind of diet I am suggesting here and getting good exercise daily.
Something Like Late Summer
As the energy of this season is nourishing to the stomach, spleen, pancreas, and the immune system, it is a good idea to use the natural sweetness of squash and other sweet vegetables.
The immune functions and lymphatic system of the body need activity to operate at peak function. Both pancreatic health and problems with the immune system respond very well to increased levels of exercise. Seaweeds, especially when eaten in miso soup, are also helpful when the immune system is challenged.
Marlene’s Late Summer Tips
Reduce your consumption of raw foods and juices as we head toward the Autumn and Winter months.
- Do not overeat, as this prevents the stomach from digesting food properly and constant nibbling and eating too fast does not give the stomach enough time to digest food.
- Eating too late at night causes the body to use its Yin Energy.
- Eating on the run or while standing up is not advisable as it can cause the stagnation of stomach energy.
- Under-eating due to strict diets lacking in basic nourishment can weaken the stomach and spleen energy.
- Foods to strengthen the stomach and earth element include millet, sweet potatoes, root vegetables, beans, apricots, apples, chickpeas, cherries, courgettes, dates, grapes, greens, oats, peaches, pears, plums, pumpkin, raspberries, rice, strawberries, and walnuts, to name but a few.
- Nishime Style Vegetables are the perfect foods for this element. Simply water-braising chunks of carrots, onions, squash, and daikon in their own juices makes for a delicious lunch or dinner.
Along with a whole-food, plant-based, vegan diet, certain foods can help to cleanse your lymphatic system. These include the herbs nettle and dandelion, leeks and onions, cabbage, and artichoke as well as seaweed. Beetroot is another excellent food for building blood as the spleen has an important role to play concerning blood.
Bitter Orange has an affinity with the spleen and the stomach and can help to regulate the ‘chi’ where there is stagnation.
Lemon can help to reduce lymphatic congestion, cellulite, and obesity, Clears mental sluggishness and strengthens the intellect and mental faculties. Anti-viral properties allow it to support the immune system; a pancreatic stimulant.
Yellow Foxglove – FF15 is referred to as the sugar balance formula, and yellow flowers are thought to help balance the pancreas function and the digestive enzymes.
Daisy Orange can help to balance the stomach and spleen when combined with yellow foxglove.
This is Part One of a two-part series. Find Part Two here.