As summer leaves us behind, we are moving away from its expansive energies of the Fire element and associated activities. Holidays, more social times with eating and drinking, adventuring and resting (in Oriental Philosophy).
As Autumn approaches our focus turns to the harvest. In our kitchen we can begin to use warmer and slower food preparation techniques which nourish and generate internal warmth. Utilise cooking methods such as broths, soups, casseroles, congee and roasts. Spices also have a strongly warming influence on our internal organs. Ginger, garlic, coriander and basil are fantastic for energising and shifting internal sluggishness that can settle in with the drop in external temperatures. Avoid cooling foods such as water straight from the fridge, ice cream, tofu, cucumber and bananas. While great for beating summer heat, in Autumn they can take away from the important digestive heat that gets us through the cooler months.
The need to rug up is increasing. Our bodies burn more energy to stay warm. More warmth needs more food. Harvest, gather, store. These activities all set us up for the annual winter "hibernation".
Traditional Chinese Medicine views Autumn 'Earth Element' energy as contracting. Our behaviour and bodily functions are more inward in nature. Spleen and Stomach (or in western physiology -pancreas) are working harder to draw energy from our food and drink in order to increase circulation to our hands and feet.
It is vital in this season to nourish, nurture and shore up our reserves. We can be more vulnerable to immune system weakness if our stores are low. A brisk morning walk, 10 rounds of warming yoga sun salutations, infra-red sauna and bathing in warm water are all ways we can care for ourselves for the winter ahead.
In short, eat warmer foods and keep warm by being active.