When the body-mind is in balance it instinctually craves nutritional elements that are in tune with the natural world. During the seasonal transition towards Spring, you may gravitate towards lighter meals with pungent, sweet, and sour flavours which support the circulation of liver qi (energy) and one’s openness towards warm weather to come.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring is related to the wood element and Liver energy. The wood element is where manifestation begins to form from deep seeds full of potential. To come into expression of growth and to feel the expansive renewal of life and energy, this season is especially reflective in nature when plants begin to grow upwards with new spring shoots.
The seasonal interchanges are traditional times of purification in many cultures. A short – perhaps one to seven day constitutional fast during each season’s closure or birth, can bring one to their ‘center’ during seasonal transitions. Since the Earth element of Five Element constitutional medicine is ‘centering’, tuning into its nutritional guidelines (think cooked root vegetables and raw or cooked soups) can assist seasonal change.
If a cleanse is craved to inspire lightness of being, creativity and clarity, start one week before the first day of Spring, during the first week of Spring, or start on the day of the Full Moon. If you desire a light, daily cleanse, simply eat lighter meals and start every morning with a glass of warm water or broth with the juice of 1/4 – 1/2 of a fresh squeezed lemon or with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. This gently aids the detoxification pathways of the liver. If you are sensitive to citrus and apple cider vinegar, consider ‘Every Day Detox’ tea by Traditional Medicinals.
Seasonal Spring Foods to Focus on:
Sprouts, chives, fresh herbs, lemons and limes, garlic
Cleansing herbal teas (nettle, dandelion, burdock, ‘Every Day Detox Tea’ by Traditional Medicinals)
Fruit: rhubarb, strawberries, avocado, apricot, grapefruit, honeydew melon, mangoes, oranges, pineapple
Vegetables: leafy greens (especially spinach and arugula), asparagus, radish, cucumber, leek, garlic greens, spring onion, green beans, cellar treasures (potatoes, carrots, parsnip, beet, squash), artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, kohlrabi, raddichio, sorrel, swiss chard, turnips, visalia onions, watercress, jicama, fiddleheads
If you are consuming nuts and/or seeds soak them overnight in salted water to awaken their vital qi (life force) and to increase their digestibility; drain the next day, rinse, and store in your fridge in an airtight container for a maximum of 3 – 5 days – carry this habit into Summer and Fall.
The Liver requires blood-nourishing foods: adequate protein intake, steamed or sautéed leafy green vegetables, cruciferous/sulphur rich vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, onion), and a wide range of good quality whole foods are essential.
Warm weather adaptation requires the consumption of flavours which are expansive and yang in nature — sweet and pungent.
Focus on steaming, soaking, and sprouting with goals of maximizing digestibility and nutrient density.
Caution: If you experience digestive symptoms and/or bowel inflammation use caution with the consumption of cold foods such as smoothies, raw juice, and raw vegetables. If your symptoms worsen this is a sign to consume warmer, cooked foods.
A Spring State of Mind
Spring is all about your story. How will your journey unfold within warmer (yang) seasons to come? As nature transforms, we follow. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine and its principle of holism, our body and the earth are one inseperable whole. We can feel the intensity of this with each changing season as we reflect on our surroundings.
To be with this season means to attune to the vibrant energy that is birthing around you. As the sun melts away winter hibernation we delight to the enlivening air that is our thoughts, the vibrant colours that hold our visions, to the seeds that are our potential, and to the plants that offer us fresh perspective. Can you feel the buzz as you shift from winter days of inner reflection to outter reflection? It’s frisky, curious, yearning, and going for it. It’s your time to glide away from old habits that no longer serve you and to walk the good path that is aligned to your core values.
The sun and the birds encourage us, the blossoming beauty inspires us, and our winter meditation has strengthened us towards the full potential that will be summer. Sow those seeds of potential now, nurture future plans, and hold the healthy and happy vision that is you with inner eyes of compassion, courage, trust, and acceptance.
“Grant me the courage to change what I can, acceptance for that which I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – unknown
When embraced fully, the season of Spring may inspire you to plan for future days ahead with a new found sense of creativity and courage. The seasonal energy of Spring may also nudge you to clear out the mental clutter that lives in you mind and environment.
Give time to planning and seeing; visualize what you want, prioritize a list, create a business plan, be assertive and go for something you’ve put off for some time — all of this supports the healthy flow of liver qi. Schedule a day to get rid of old clothes (google ‘wardrobe capsule’ for organizing ideas), organize cupboards and to do a thorough clean of your living space. You may even feel inspired to paint your walls a different colour or to rearrange furniture.
Mindfully set intentions to leave behind persistent negative thoughts, people, and habits that do not serve your sense of well being. Spring is a time for forgiving yourself and others and may help to assist the transformation of anger into benevolence. Go further and ask yourself if the anger you hold or express is in service of you, and how so, for all emotions have a purpose.
“Plant seeds of positive thoughts and you will find yourself growing into a flower.” – unknown
Physically, spend more time outdoors with a focus on natural movement — plan for a hike and picnic, play in the mud, splash in the streams, prepare your garden, and focus on subtle stretching exercises such as yoga and/or tai qi which will promote the healthy flow of liver qi. With movement, practice diaphragmatic breathing; tension here almost always occur when liver qi is stagnant — according to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) this organ ‘governs’ the diaphragm. The liver also needs good quality rest and relaxation. To balance all of the ‘doing’ we need to practice ‘being’ — consider taking a day off to do whatever you please!
Lastly, creative expression and attending to your natural desire to create will nourish your whole being; whether through sculpture, poem writing, painting, gardening, and/or cooking, we tap into liver power and give it expression.
Mantras for Spring
I flow with life, with life I flow.
I am creative, I am happy.
With growth, I heal.
I direct my energies positively, I begin challenges with optimism.
I go forth with courage, I trust in ____.
I am responsible for my happiness.
I see each day as a clean slate.
Step by step I am moving in the right direction.
Journal topics for Spring
I can, I wish, I want, I desire, I would like to. . .
May I. . .
I choose to. . .
I am. . .
Feel yourself leave winter behind with the following soup recipe as you allow yourself to get lost in the preparation, cooking, and enjoyment of its colours, textures, and flavours — Spring is the utmost season of creativity after all! For your ease and joy of weekly meals, prepare this recipe on the weekend and/or mid-week. You can also freeze a portion of each, making sure to leave an inch of head-space in your container for expansion. Serve with protein squares or fish, sautéed vegetables, sprouts, and arugula or pesto.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yields: 6 – 7 cups
CHANGE OF SEASON SOUP PUREE
5 cups vegetables of choice: carrots, kabocha squash, sweet potato and broccoli, parsnip, trimmed asparagus, cabbage, or green beans (397g 14 oz), chopped
2 cups zucchini, fennel, and/or turnip, peeled or left unpeeled (for green colour), chopped
1 cup celery, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup leek (green part or bulb), sliced
2 – 3 cups bone broth, vegetable broth, or water
¼ – 1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Handful of fresh cilantro or parsley for green bean version
Nub of fresh ginger, or to personal preference
1 clove fresh garlic, optional
Splash of apple cider vinegar
1. Prepare your desired vegetables.
2. Bring the bone broth to a boil in a large saucepan with the chopped vegetables.
3. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes over medium low heat, covered (lower cooking time for low-density vegetables ie. asparagus).
4. Transfer the saucepan contents to a blender and add the remaining ingredients.
5. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into mason jars, allow to cool, cap and refrigerate.
For low fodmap and sibo protocols focus on carrot, kabocha, green bean, and cabbage. Omit garlic and use leek green instead of the bulb. Occasionally add some cooked sprouted brown rice, white basmati, or quinoa to your soup if desired (not AIP or paleo compliant).
For a low histamine protocol omit bone broth (unless bone broth is pressure cooked for a maximum of three hours and consumed within two days), and apple cider vinegar.
I hope my post has given you insight today. If you’re interested in nutrition and acupuncture I’d be happy to guide you along. Please visit www.vcaspa.com to book online or call 250-590-4341. To learn more about my acupuncture practice, follow @hayley_stobbs on Instagram.
Wishing you love & vitality,
Hayley Stobbs R.Ac, CNC