Spring Cleansing: How did our Ancient Ancestors Eat in Springtime?
Spring has sprung!
Can you feel the sense of renewal and rebirth dancing through the wind? The flowers are blooming, the plants sprouting, the bees buzzing and birds singing, all reminding us that we, too, can bravely go forth into the wild world, dance our dance, sing our song and blossom brightly.
So, now that I've waxed poetic for a moment (thank you for indulging me), let's get to the reason you're here!
One of the core theories in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is that of the five elements. The basic idea is that everything in the Universe has five basic qualities or Elements, and everything transforms from one energy to the next. For example, we have five seasons (in TCM there is a fifth season, "Indian summer," between Summer and Autumn). Each season's energy transitions to the next. We, as members of this grand Universe, can similarly transform our own rhythms, activities, movements, and FOOD, in relation to these Elements, these seasons, to lives our lives in alignment with the Earth from which we come.
You might say that, like the seasons, we move through the Elements.
During Springtime, we are moving through rising, fresh, rejuvenating Tree or Wood energy. Our liver and gallbladder have an affinity to this type of energy. Therefore, Spring is the ideal time to cleanse and nourish these organs.
In TCM, this organ system helps with processing, recycling, storing, and purifying blood. Symptoms of "stagnation" (or obstructed energy flow) appear when there is a problem in this area. Think: bloating, poor circulation, headaches, low energy, blurry vision, chronic degenerative conditions, dryness, inflammation, brittle nails, and PMS. All of these symptoms can be healed, in part, through working with our Tree energy, and there's no better time to do it than now!
This organ system is also most closely tied to emotional expression. Perhaps your diet is working for you, you're moving your body regularly, and still...some of the symptoms I've mentioned sound familiar. Well, emotions need to move in and through the body, too. Once they do, we feel more stable. When they're ignored and stuck, WE are stuck, tense, frustrated, and stressed. We need to move our emotions, and if we do not express them in a healthy way, they express themselves through symptoms like headaches, PMS, inflammation etc.
So...wait a second. You're saying that our symptoms are not random curses but could actually be messengers from our sacred vessels, communicating to us that we need to focus on a deeper issue within? Exactly, my dear friend!
Take this season to explore safe places to talk and feel. Write in your journal, paint, dance, build, create. Engage in activities that help you feel light and free. Socialize. Laugh! Smile! These activities will not only benefit your mind and spirit but also your body, for they are, indeed, all one and the same.
Ok, let's get to the food!
The liver meridian loves GREEN food. Eat all the seasonal and local greens you can find. Choose organic to minimize extra toxins that will need to be filtered by the liver. Think of foods that are more cleansing and fresh. Sprouts, arugula, lettuce, etc. Whatever is available where you live! Those foods will have the energy you're needing at this time. Though TCM is usually not a huge fan of raw food, this time of year is a more appropriate time to add raw foods into the diet.
Our tree energy is supported through the SOUR flavor. Lemons, limes, high quality vinegar and pickles. Yum! These foods taste great and also aid in cleansing, alkalizing, and boosting immunity. (side note: anyone else have a baby who loves pickles?!)
Avoid heavy and fatty foods. Cooking techniques should gradually become lighter and quicker. Think: salads, quick sautés and steams, light soups and stocks, and more fermented foods. Avoid excess bread, animal foods, and overcooking.
Here's a link to a blog post I wrote that goes into even more detail about maintaining liver health and balancing hormones. This has been a super popular article and I hope you enjoy learning more about creating a radiantly healthy liver, because now is the absolute best time to work on this!
If you're looking for more personalized attention and accountability, I invite you to work with me as your holistic health coach. Sessions are conducted over the phone and usually last about an hour. After just one session, you'll leave with a deeper understanding of who you are, how your experiences have been integrated into your body, and how you can use food and simple, accessible practices to realign. If you know that accountability is essential for you and you're ready to make changes that will last, dive deep with me in my four week personalized program.
Thank you for walking this path alongside me.
Yours in love, light, and longevity,