By Patricia Becker
This is one of my articles I wrote for the Harbin Hots Springs Quarterly Magazine in about 1987 during my 5 years as a resident chef, cooking class teacher and diet coach. I dusted it off the article, freshened it up. It also is at Peace Quarters.
Welcome to autumn! I would like to begin with a thought from Lao Tzu:
Nature alternates dynamically when it completes what it is doing, then it starts over again. All that is springs from such alternation. As we observe and enjoy our external environment changing, let us also observe and strengthen our internal environmental alternations. Both have subtle, yet dynamic, influence on our daily existence, although our internal environment can be more readily changed by us.
According to Eastern philosophy and medicine, each major organ in the body has a time of the year when it has the potential for the most energy passing through it and has one of five tastes to which it is most responsive. Winter corresponds to the kidneys, which respond to salty tastes; spring is associated with the liver and sour tastes; summer involves the stomach and its corresponding sweet tastes; and late summer is represented by the heart and bitter tastes. This season, autumn, involves the lungs, which are related to pungent and spicy-tasting foods.
Entire books can and have been written on these “Five Transformations.” Let’s focus on the relationship between autumn and the lungs, and how we can create the most harmony within ourselves during this season.
Over the summer months, if you’re like me, you have probably consumed more than normal – maybe too much – organic ice cream or other frozen sugary desserts, and perhaps eaten in a more chaotic way in response to the metabolic shifts brought about by the extreme heat. Maybe you’ve gotten a cold that helps the body quickly rid itself of the toxins and excess waste that did not get eliminated through normal channels. Maybe your body has a different way of discharging excess. Whatever way your body functions, let us always be grateful and mindful of the body’s innate ability to heal and repair itself.
The lungs and autumn are associated with spicy foods, but you must always be aware of balance in your body. Too little of the aromatic condiments or pungent flavor found in foods like daikon and red radishes could manifest problems of excess mucus, difficulties in assimilation, dullness of mood and a general lack of lightness and fun in your approach to life. On the other hand, an excess of highly spiced foods may create digestive disorder, muscular weakness, spaced-out condition, and a lack of concentration or focus. You may want to reflect if you have overeaten, or not eaten enough of these foods. Now, in the early fall, would be the best time to correct any imbalance. Reflect and be your own judge.
Rice is the perfect grain for autumn and the lungs, besides being a very grounded food that brings a calmness to our whole psyche. Long, short, sweet, basmati and wild rice are all varieties that are full of life-force which will help you evaluate and plan your life this fall. And with the shorter days and cooler temperatures, you’ll have more time to do just that. Rice is also beneficial to the nervous system and the brain, and contains more B-complex vitamins than any other grain.
Autumn is also a good time to eat white vegetables like onions, cabbage, turnips, celery, daikon and cauliflower. White beans, navy beans, soy beans, tofu and tempeh are the perfect proteins to compliment these foods. When deciding what you want to eat, ask yourself how that food will make you feel. Remember, the feeling lasts much longer than the taste!
This dietary information regarding the lungs can be applied in any season. If your lungs feel weak or sick, pay attention to them and use this nutritional information as a tool to help yourself feel better.
As the seasons change, the organs in the body alternate in their activity and receptivity to the universal energies. Since becoming involved in macrobiotics and nutritional counseling. I’ve been happily surprised to find many people coming to me wanting to clean up a particular organ at the exact time of year when that organ would respond best to the help.
Our bodies know what is best, and are always sending us messages. In our modern-day society we have become preoccupied with covering up these messages, covering up the symptoms and the pain. A persistent cough is telling you that perhaps you have a collection of mucus that is directly related to your consumption of milk and other dairy products. Instead of treating the symptom with cough syrup and other patent medicines, try eliminating the cause – dairy – and you may well eliminate the cough.
To be good to your lungs this fall, I suggest yoga or other exercise which keeps the energy flowing in your lungs, which oxygenates your blood. Properly working lungs will make you feel good and help you keep a healthy and joyous outlook on life. You can also try this recipe, which is specially designed to complement the lungs receptivity to spices this fall.
HOT AND SPICY SWEET RICE
1 ¾ C. sweet rice
¼ C. wild rice
2 T. sesame oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pinches sea salt
1 ½ T. chili powder
4 C. water
1 ½ T. tamari
Heat oil and sauté vegetables with salt and chili powder for 5 minutes. Add water and rice. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tamari to taste, fluff with a fork and serve.
I would be happy to assist you with personal diet coaching. The cost is $89 for an initial 90-minute session.
For further information or an appointment please call 650-285-1867 or email Patricia@yourhealthandjoy.com