For Indian Summer body types, the most ideal foods to eat include foods with a neutral thermal nature and those that nourish qi. This unique period of time between late summer and early autumn represents the balance point between yin and yang, where yang is at its peak in summer, and yin is the dominant energy in winter. As the central foundation within the cycle of seasons, Indian summer offers a stable haven between the extremes of hot and cold, and a grounding connection to the Earth.
In contrast with raw fruits and vegetables which have a cooling effect on the body, and rich foods like meats and fats which warm the body, neutral foods tend to have little to no thermal effect. Thermally neutral foods include many staple foods like whole grains and legumes, which can be eaten in larger quantities without affecting yin-yang balance.
One of the basic tenets of Traditional Chinese Medicine dietary theory is that the thermal nature of foods has an effect on digestibility and the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Very cold foods like iced water and frozen desserts hamper digestion, because the body requires additional energy to assimilate those foods to body temperature. The stomach and digestive system can be viewed like a pot simmering over a fire – any time a cold food is eaten, the body needs more digestive fire and more energy to warm the pot back up. On the other hand, when very spicy and warming foods are eaten, they can overly heat the body to the point of experiencing flushed skin, perspiration, and even heartburn. Rather than fluctuating between the two extremes, try to maintain balance by eating more neutral and easily digestible foods.
Neutral grains and legumes also offer another nutritional benefit: they provide a source of complex carbohydrates that are beneficial for fatigued or lethargic Indian Summer body types. These carbohydrate-rich foods help to build qi, which is especially useful when you’re feeling sick or low in immunity. The mild, bland flavor of these foods also makes them easy to digest. In many ways, the Indian Summer diet resembles a diet that most appeals to you when you are not feeling well. Comforting dishes like slow-cooked porridges of rice, oats, or dal are ideal for building strength and enhancing qi, as well as keeping your body in balance between yin and yang.
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