For optimum health, eat in harmony with the seasons

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118175264212684.jpg’, ‘Image courtesy of‘, ‘Buying produce locally means eating what is in season.‘);

BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—Jennifer Blair, MaOM, LAc, an associate clinic faculty member at Northwestern Health Sciences University, practices Chinese medicine at Northwestern’s Edith Davis Teaching Clinic. In her practice, food is used to treat patients and bring balance back to the body. Blair urges her patients to be aware of their states of mind around food, because food has the power to greatly influence what goes on in the body.

“Feel connected to the food you’re eating,” says Blair. “Be conscious of what and how you are eating.” She adds that the environment in which people eat may also influence the body. “It’s not just about what foods you need, but your environment,” says Blair. “Eating in the company of people we love is important. Making eating a sacred thing is important. To connect with food is important. Saying a short prayer before you eat or feeling grateful for the food that was provided is important.”

Blair suggests to her patients to make one change at a time. For one person, cleaning off the dining room table is a good change, according to Blair. For another, taking a walk after dinner is making progress. To help her patients get what they each need, she recommends that they follow these five basic constructs:

Eat in harmony with the seasons. “Every time of year has specific nutritional needs,” she says. “What is naturally provided is exactly what you need. In the spring, bitter greens come up like asparagus and early lettuces. They have a slightly bitter quality to them, which drains excess heat from the body that comes from a long winter of eating heavier winter foods. It’s good to eat those foods in the spring. In the winter, you would eat more dried nuts and dried meats. If you didn’t have electricity or refrigeration, you’d be eating root vegetables, meat, nuts and grains. In the summer, when it’s really hot, the foods that show up are very rich in water. Tomatoes ripen in August; they moisten the body and have the capacity to clear heat from the body. Watermelon also has the property of clearing heat from the body. They are great for preventing heat stroke.”

Eat in harmony with your geography. “If you live in Minnesota, eat locally. If you are living in Minnesota in January, and you are eating mangos and bananas, that’s probably not the best thing for you. It’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever eat them, just not all the time.”

Eat in harmony with your constitution. “We each come into the world with a different constitution. A big, robust guy who has a cast-iron stomach should eat to nourish that particular constitution. Someone who is thin, small and frail, and gets cold easily, is going to need to rest more and eat more warm and nourishing foods. Pay attention to who you are and how you show up in the world.”

Eat in harmony with whatever disharmony is going on in your body. “If you are suffering from a cold or the flu, you should eat foods that are appropriate to that. A person with cystic fibrosis who has a lot of phlegm shouldn’t eat damp foods like macaroni. They should eat soups and things that are easily digested.”

Eat in harmony with your phase of life. “A pregnant woman, a 7-year-old child, and an 80-year-old man, all have different nutritional needs. Children’s digestion doesn’t develop until age 7, so they need to eat more simply.”

“In this country, we want easy,” says Blair. “Food is to satisfy cravings, desires and to be convenient… We eat for gratification, and if we do eat healthily, we do it in extremes. We need to balance the five flavors. Each meal we eat should have a little salt, sweet, bitter, sour and pungent tastes.”

For additional resources nutrition, go to, a Web site focusing on natural approaches to health and wellness hosted by Northwestern Health Sciences University.

The Natural News Service is a public information program provided by Northwestern Health Sciences University. The University offers an array of choices in natural health care education including chiropractic, Oriental medicine, acupuncture, therapeutic massage and integrative health and wellness.

from the June 13-19, 2007, issue

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