Something we're passionate about at SuperFeast is honouring the depths and beauty of living with each of the five season seasons. Through observing the energetics of nature and consuming foods that are in season, we can flow in harmony with the element of each season. Summertime is the season of joy, festivities, sunshine, the heart and is associated with the Element of Fire. The energy of this season is upward and outward and driven by Yang energy. Naturally, we crave full sunshine, warmth, cooling foods, and activities that bring a sense of excitement. All too often in this season, we tend to overdo it and exhaust ourselves to the point of depletion. More than any other season, Summer is about maintaining balance (not always easy); The true art of living in Summer is to energise without exhausting. When the Fire element is in balance, the heart is strong, the mind is calm, and sleep is sound.
Here to introduce and explore the flavours, fruits, grains, vegetables, herbs, and spices of Summer, we have our favourite TCM Food Therapist, Kimberly Ashton. Kimberly's healing work centres around the power of functional food, Chinese medicine, the 5 Elements, food energetics, emotional anatomy, and energy medicine. Kimberly and Mason discuss dampness within the body, the Five-Element cycle, how to nourish the Yang energy and not overexert yourself to the point of affecting the kidneys, and adrenal burnout. Kimberly gives the full breakdown of what foods and flavours we should be eating to support vitality and how the energetics of these foods and the fire element work together within the body.
"Summer is a time for cooling foods, lighter cooking styles, a little bit of spice, a little bit of bitterness, and keeping your circulation moving; it's not a time to sit in front of the tv, save that for winter. Look after your sleep, mental, and emotional state as well because that can be easily tipped, as well, in this season".
- Kimberly Ashton
Mason and Kimberly discuss:
- The Fire organ system.
- Foods to eat in Summer.
- Burnout and the Kidney's.
- How to avoid Summer burn out.
- Chinese medicine food therapy.
- The beauty of the afternoon naps.
- Why we need to sweat in Summer.
- What is the Fire Element and Fire Qi?
- Signs your fire element is out of balance.
- Cooking and preparing food in Summer.
- Bitter and spice; The flavours of Summer.
- Listening to your body and seeing what it wants.
- Dampness and not over cooling the digestive system.
Who is Kimberly Ashton?
Kimberly Ashton is a Holistic Wellness coach that focuses on the 5 Elements, Food Therapy and Chinese Medicine. She spent over 18 years in Asia and Shanghai, 8 of which she co-founded China’s first health food store & plant-based nutrition cooking studio. Now back in Australia, she launched Qi Food Therapy in 2020, a platform offering e-books, online courses, and coaching for “balancing life energy” through food, food energetics & emotional wellness. In 2019 she published her second book “Chinese Superfoods” in Mandarin, which encourages new generations of food therapy enthusiasts to explore Asian traditional foods, everyday ingredients & get back in the kitchen. It has sold over 7000 copies in China. Her approach is centered on cultivating an intuitive relationship with food and helping people understand their energies through food choices, cooking techniques, the 5 Elements, emotional & energy practices.
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Check Out The Transcript Here:
Kimberly, thanks so much for coming on again.
Glad to be back. Thanks for having me.
Yeah. Oh, it's nice. In between... since our last chat where I was able to get on, and have that session with you, diving into my dominant organs, based on your technique, which is really revealing and amazing, and really nuanced, which I really enjoyed as a part of your process, the nuance of not just having it just be like, "This one organ system kind of just..." Yeah. You went deeper. It was nice.
It's fun knowing our predominant elements. I always have to catch myself because we all have five elements in and around us, but we have a predominant three that are more easily to get out of balance, let's say. Or more typical that come out in our emotions and personality. And food. We're driven to certain foods based on if you're an earth element or a wood element person. And yeah. It's really fun. And today we'll be talking further on the elements, and more so with the fire and summer element.
I definitely recommend everyone jump in and have that... have a session with you if they're interested in figuring out what their dominant organs are.
And I'm looking forward to hearing and getting some insights about how we can weave in with the fire element and summer, and what are those foods that are going to help that fire, Qi, transform between its yin and yang. And I mean, I feel like I always... I was telling my team, I was talking about summer just especially in the Southern hemisphere, just really watch out in summer because we have these huge festivities in the middle of the time when we don't need extra festivities.
That's right. That's right.
Yeah. What's your take on that? Because I talk about going... your preparation for winter and your capacity to cultivate and be in a cycle of cultivating energy rather than just trying to heal yourself after burning out. So it starts now. Your cultivation for winter starts now. Because if you go real hard, the fire runs too hot, burns out, then you're going to be spending winter trying to heal rather than cultivating.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's a part of modern society. We live... No matter what season it is or where you live in the world, whether it's a tropical place or in Sweden or I don't know, somewhere really cold, we tend to burn out just as a general fire element. I'll dive into more details, but we do tend to do that. And then we get to winter or the water element, and then we're burnt out. And then we're always playing catch up. Because of this cycle, we're going round and round. There's no stopping it. People don't understand that it... what you do now affects...
And the Chinese practitioners in the Chinese medicine system understands that beautifully, right, that what you do now affects the next season. So as you said, even though it's Christmas and beach weather and barbecues and parties, and end of year in the Southern hemisphere, we do burn out. But people can do that at any time of the year. You can use your fire in autumn or in late summer as well. But it's just more prone to being used up. And as you said, it actually affects in the five element cycle, and the nourishing cycle, and the destructive cycle, if you want to go there quickly, you affect the kidneys, and you burn out with the adrenals.
I actually personally have just done that in the last few weeks. I had acupuncture yesterday, and I was like, "I'm tired and it's self inflicted." And yeah. It was... well, it is, just too much mental and physical activity. So we're just getting too burnt. And that's a modern day trait, I think, with everyone burning out so literally with the fire element. So yeah. I'll share a little bit about what the fire element is for those people who are into Chinese medicine, which they probably are if they're listening, or maybe some people that are new and are just exploring the elements and realising the depth and the beauty of living in seasons and elements.
Yeah, I mean, that's the beautiful thing here. If anyone is listening, as I know a lot of people... You come here and listen to this podcast. And especially, I know a lot of people really tune in for these seasonal ones when we chat, or when myself and [Taney 00:04:22] have them as well, where we go a little bit more philosophical. We're very practical in this podcast here.
And if it's like, "Oh gosh, I don't have room for like fire element, and fire Qi," the information, that's just a way to relate that the information that we explore here, and that's why I really like your work, it's so practical and just comes down to just wisdom-based principles that have been refined... the insights that have been refined over thousands and thousands of years. It doesn't matter where you are in the world. The idea is for you to relate to what's going on energetically around you, or seasonally around you, and what food is available locally, as well. And then it's just those simple, "All right. This is the type of energy of the food that is going to keep that organ system moving. This is the food preparation that's going to keep that organ system moving" because at this time of year, this is what you need to keep going based on the temperature, based on what's going on.
So just for everyone, just make sure you... you don't have to like... You can just be like "Oh yeah. Interesting. They're saying fire." But we're coming down to... And as you said, the burnout and the kidneys, I think this time of year, I've had a lot of people, interestingly enough, talking about hair lately. And that's a real... I think that's one... Whether it's little symptoms going on within joints, little symptoms going on within hair, and I'm kind of there at the moment as well. I really have not been quite listening to my body in how much rest it desires. And I can see my hair health just like, oh it's just not quite as rich. And it's such a big sign and a slap in the face. I had a lot of people coming to me about poor hair health. And it's like, "What do I do?" And it's like... You really... These podcasts, this topic, this is what we do. There's subtle principles.
Living seasonally, listening to your body so you don't burn out. And everything around... We're talking about food and preparation of food, and everything around this, you'll hear there's characters of this time of year and character of the fire organ system that hopefully gives you insights so you can get back and flow with your temperament, and aspirations with the season. And hopefully, then you don't pull from your kidneys, your water. Therefore, that's where the hair health emerges from, from the kidneys and from the lung lungs also. But it has a lot to do with just what... I think what you just said, the burnout.
And you've got to call a spade a spade and just be like, "You know..." and I'm really trying to do. It's like a hard process for me. Just be like, "Mate, you just have to acknowledge it. You just... You can't go on this way. You're going to have to keep on provisioning smarter." So yeah. With that, let's dive in.
Yeah. Awesome. And it going back to personality, as well. I believe you were earth and wood and some metal, so... And I'm wood. So I had this upward energy and go, go, go. And so people who have a lot of wood and fire, the idea of slowing down and not burning out is like, "What? No. I wouldn't do that. I can just keep going" until you can't.
So the fire element is this energy of upward and outward. The springtime is pretty much up. And if we're talking about food, I always bring in asparagus and leaks, which I mentioned in the spring talk that we had, which is this upward. And this fire element is about an expansion. So if you think of pineapple, or like dragon fruit, or even vegetables that go up and out, like all the beautiful salad grains, that's the energy of the season. And so it's about embodying and capturing that through our food, but not overdoing it, if that makes sense.
It is full sunshine. It's warmth and heat, but again, not overdoing it. So if you want to have some spicy food and chilli it's... it could be a good thing. And that's when a lot of people enjoy it, and they love things like Thai food, and Vietnamese spicy foods, and all the curries and things like that. It is a good time to have it because it encourages more of this expense nature. You sweat, it helps you cool down. There's many factors to incorporate those foods. But if... I want to bring it back into this idea of balance. We have to... This is a season to really watch the word balance more than any other season so that you don't overdo the parties, or overdo the spice, or overdue certain lifestyles because it also affects the organ of the heart and small intestine, which is the organ pair in this season, which is easily disturbed. And we get... It disturbs the [inaudible 00:08:57], disturbs our mental capacity, our emotional capacity, and people tend to get a little bit overly excited, or easily excitable, and bit chaotic and manic. So that's not good, either.
So we have to be very careful in every season, but this one is a really easy one to tip over, I see and I also feel in my experience with the five elements. So the idea of overexcitement for some people is a bit weird, potentially. They're like, "No. Being happy and full of joy is good." But you can overdo it.
Yeah. Well... I mean, everyone does associate constant upward and outward motion with summer, but forgetting that the Yin Qi of the fire element has got such a calm serenity. It's on cruise control. It's relaxed. It's... I mean, it's like a Sunday... it's it like a summer afternoon nap. You know? It's like swinging in the hammock while reading. But I feel Christmas and New Year, especially, they hijack that time.
And I mean, and I don't know why I'm surrounded by so many [foreign language 00:10:07], so many birthdays around at the moment. And you've got to... I mean, and you-
A lot of birthday parties.
And this... As you said, that excitement, it's the thing that I often... I think for our... where we are in the Southern hemisphere, I think it really throws off the entire other cycle more than anything else. That, and then in getting around to autumn, and not able to transition down and welcome and mourn the fact that the summer's gone.
Everyone, if you can... Yeah. Quality, not quantity. So if you can get quality celebration in upward times where we get really excited, and then be sure that you come down and cruise during these months would be... I think that's good... Good way to go.
Yeah. You bring up a good point about afternoon naps, something I don't do. It's just not in my... It's not in my DNA, but I should. And I'll just briefly mention a few imbalances, so how do you know your fire element is out of balance? And then we can talk about foods to support that. You get heart palpitation, like actual physical disturbance of the heart. You get anxious, you get some insomnia, there's a lot of sleep issues that surface during the height of summer for people. You get, obviously, more easily sensitive to the heat outside as the temperature's rising. You get nervous. You get forgetful, as well. So there's a lot of agitation in this chaos, wire-iness, to the fire element as well. So... But as you said, if you're balancing, you can have a nap. You can slow down in the height of summer, and you take the time for a little bit of cooling down that fire, heat, and excitement, which is really, really key.
You know what? Just what you're saying, what it... something points out to something to me, like... Because quite often, people find themselves in situations where they're like, "Well, that's all... That's very well and easy for you to say that, but I can't because of this. I've made... I've got this many kids," or "I've got... I'm in this phase of my business." I've been really watching myself kind of say that. And then watching the decisions that I'm making that are going to affect my next two years or three years. And it's like... you've got to become a custodian of the fire, the future fire.
So it's like, "Oh. Well at least I'm going to learn from when I've bitten off more than I can chew. And I'm going to ensure that I make choices that when I get around to summers three years from now, that I actually do have greater capacity to get into that serene flow."
Yes. All love that future of fire. I wrote down a note here as well to... which kind of ties in with that future fire idea. It's like, energise but not exhaust. So you want to have the energy in summer... well, the whole year round really, and that flow of yin and yang, and that balance, but not exhaust. And we tend to, in modern day society, to just go to the edge and exhaust ourselves, and then try and catch up and take herbs, and eat food, and sleep. And then you really depleted yourself to another level and it's harder to catch up, so...
But on that note, there are foods that can help in the season. And for those that are familiar with the flavours and the five elements of five seasons of five flavours, it's one of bitterness, and not many people like to hear that because likes to eat bitter foods. But in Chinese cuisine, there's a lot of bitter and spicy foods that can... They don't have to be like eating something really obviously bitter or spicy like a whole chilli or like... I don't know if you've ever had bitter melon in Chinese cuisine?
I was thinking about bitter melon. Yeah.
The kugua? Oh. It's like... I used to hate it. And it's a really weird-looking food, a vegetable, as well, but it is the classic vegetable in Chinese, in summertime. There's a few others, but that is the classic because it just... it goes straight to where it needs to go in the body, and it does its job, and you feel great afterwards, after you've had it. And there's obviously ways to cook its so it doesn't taste so disgusting. But yeah. So you're looking at some bitter and spice. So as I mentioned a little bit earlier, a little bit of chilli, but it... I'm not a big chilli fan, but you can have other spices that make your food taste good. You can go to Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Thai cuisine and borrow from their condiments list.
Spice rack. Yep.
Spice rack. Yeah.
Condiments list. Yep.
Yeah. And herbs as well. Like Thai basil and all those beautiful flavours, as well. And there's a reason I wanted to explain as well why they have those in... especially in tropical places in Southeast Asia, is to cope with the season. It's pretty much summer all year round there. So they have foods and herbs that... and spices that help with that. So that's important just to start thinking about, oh, different ways of eating in different times of the year. Because most people that I meet eat pretty much the same all year round. And so I'm always encouraging like, "Explore different flavours, explore different vegetables, spices." Not every day, but maybe once a week, cook something different, or borrow from different cultures.
So the main aim of food therapy in the fire element or in the summertime is to cool, hydrate, and enjoy your food as well. Because I don't want people to become too... to worry about cooling themselves and having certain ingredients. So I'll mention a few of those ingredients that support that. But then I'll also talk about the digestion, because it's really important that we don't overcool the body. I did that when I first started doing Chinese medicine, and it was in summer, and my TCM doctor was like, "Oh, the cooling foods." So I overdosed on some of these foods. So I'll mention things like zucchini, melons of all types, watermelon, rock melon, mint, papaya, chrysanthemum is a very popular.
Yeah. Drainer. Drain from the face. Yeah.
Yeah. Just cool the body and get... Exactly. So if there's too much heat coming up, we want to cool the body, the whole body, but from the upper half. Cucumbers also fall in the melon family.
And then the bitter of flavours can come from bitter of melon. If anyone hasn't heard of bitter melon, Google it, because it's fascinating. It's a really wrinkly-looking green thing, and scary on the inside with seeds. But as I said, highly nutritious, the most bitter thing you'll ever eat. And then on a Western, it's probably a lot easier to associate with arugula or rocket. That's got that nice bitter quality to it. And look at the shape of rocket and arugula leaves. So that's something good, as well, to incorporate. So those are nice cooling bitter flavours that you can start to add to your salads, or your stir fries, or your soups. Like a zucchini soup, I like to make it with leak. So you can still use your spring vegetables. You don't have to ignore the green good stuff that we talked about previously, but just starting to add more variety because this is the most abundant time of year, where we have... in the farmer's markets or in the fruit and veg shop, you have so much choice. So really start to have more variety in your meals.
And then the colour red. So the colour of the season is this beautiful red quality. So that could be literally things like red rice, or red lentils, or red beans, as well as red coloured vegetables. Last summer I discovered red sorrel. I don't know if you've... You've probably...get that a lot up there, as well. It's a beautiful leaf, and it's really bitter. But it looks like a baby Swiss chard kind of, and it's just delicious. It's got these red veins through it.
We mainly just got lemon sorrel.
Lemon sorrel's good, too. Yeah.
I mean, that's like... That's a nice thing about the bitterness coming from all those greens, and a little bit of dandelion here and there when you're walking around. It's just like... I mean, that's where... like, you're having bit of melon available is really great, but it is really... The bitterness kind of slaps you in the face. And I think that's the thing like... It's like it's all mangoes, it's all calling foods, and it's all easy to eat celebration foods. And it's like bringing foods to take to that party, and that Christmas party. Things that are rich, things that are really easy for everyone to eat. And it's... no one wants to bring that challenging meal a lot of the time that's like... got like quite bitter of tones.
Maybe... everyone's not used to having massive aromatic... You said like a lot of the spices we get here, whether it's in India, Italy, it's like... They're often... It's like, of course. They're aromatic, and there's a bit of pungency in there, and bitterness is just layered in through all of them. So it's nice to put them in there, but... I think that is a... It's a good... Just little heads up warning, and something good you can do, just like what I do. Walk around, you see like a little bit of sorrel, you see a little bit of dandelion, just go and whack that in, just to kind of ground yourself, and remind yourself that, "Hey, it's not all just like getting the helium... getting in the big balloon and just going up, up, up, up, up, up, up into the sky." You need something to slap you on the side of the face and be like, "Come back down to earth, buddy. Here. Have some bitter tones." Because it's... Otherwise, it's-
That'll do it.
That'll... And it does do it. As you said, the over-cooling that's just... I mean, it is... People just run off in one direction. They forget... I think everyone forgets that in the centre of the elemental wheel is earth.
So there is like a consistency.
There is still... It's still okay to have a little bit of warm water to nourish the spleen first thing in the morning.
Absolutely. Yeah. And exactly. And that's... We'll get to that when we talk about the digestive system. Because we tend to either overcool, or go to that extreme, like you said, and think in summer we can just have lots of ice cream and like raw salads, and... But there isn't... A huge benefit to still having some warmth, whether it's warm water in the morning, especially in the morning, something warm so that we're not just hurting the spleen first thing in the morning. Just because it's summer and it's hot outside, the body on the inside, especially the stomach and spleen don't enjoy having ice cream for breakfast, for example.
So some other foods that have a little bit of redness to them, but also have that bitterness are... I mentioned red rice, but I'm a really big fan of amaranth leaves, and we can get those here quite easily. Or even amaranth seed, so you can make a really nice porridge or desserts. Like, we can get quite creative with these fire elemental summer seeds, grains, vegetables, fruits, where we don't just have to stick to the ones that I mentioned. I mentioned the most common ones to start with, but I do encourage people to explore other grains and vegetables. So amaranth is a nice purple... well, you can get green ones as well, but purple leafy vegetable, which is a really nice thing.
And then another really cool... I love sea vegetables, and I think you know this. So we can start to look at dulse, as well, red coloured seaweeds. So we don't want to just keep it to land vegetables, and cooling, and things like that. But we can bring in a lot of the sea vegetables, as well.
Do you use that in soups mostly?
Yeah. So I'm... The easiest way I found it is in flakes, so the dulse flakes that you can get in the health food store. You can put it on salads, you can put it on like savoury porridge or congee or meal, or things like that. Because it's in flake form, it's very small. So it's not too... It's not actually that strong. But it's the right colour and the energy, quality of the food that you can sprinkle out on anything really. It's not as strong as like wakame or arame, those sort of more suitable for like miso soup, or more Japanese style. Dulse flakes are just... you can put them on anything. You can put them on barbecue things if you want to. Yeah.
So again, explore are different things that you can add to your spice rack, or to your kitchen condiments. I think condiments are one of the most fun things. And especially in summer, you can make really nice toppings or dips, or sources to go with your meals.
I will get back to the cooling food. So I mentioned mint. Some people love or hate cilantro or coriander. That's a great one for this season. And mung beans are the classic Chinese cooling food outside of bitter melon. And I have to say one more Chinese vegetable, which is it's called winter melon. It's a silly name, dong gua, but it's this big melon. It looks like 20 times bigger than a cucumber. And it has cooling and dampness removing properties to it, which is also the beauty of Chinese medicine, food therapy. Every food pretty much has a function in a season, in a meal. So yeah. I know mung beans aren't a Chinese ingredient. They're used a lot in Indian cooking and in Ayurveda as well, so we can start to look at that.
And lotus seed, again a little bit more on the Chinese ingredient, but beautiful in soups and stews. And chrysanthemum I mentioned as well before. And then papaya is a good one that's very often and used, as is dragon fruit and guava. I love guava. So again, there's like nutritional benefits. There's a lot of functional things. And a lot of these fruits help with your digestion, help with dampness, as well as cooling the body. They... All the tropical fruits have this beautiful cooling nature to them. And ginkgo. I have to mention ginkgo. It's got a bitter and sweet flavour to it. I don't know if you... Do you use ginkgo at all?
Yeah? As a whole ingredient?
I don't use nut. I use leaf.
You use leaf. Oh, nice.
It's in a herb formula that's-
Oh, great. Nice. Yeah. The so ginkgo is like a yellow... It's big for a seed, but it's a big chewy kind of seed, and it's... You'll see it in Chinese stir-fries a lot, but it's a classic also summer ingredient. Yeah. It's got a lot of... It's got like a multitude of functions including dampness and stabilising the heart, as well. So I love it. And it's good for the brain. I know that you can tell us more on the tonic side of it. But it's just another ingredient to consider yeah.
Yes. Ancient dinosaur tree.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And then in terms of cooking styles, because that's also something that I love to talk about because that's also seasonal. So if we're cooking the same thing all year round in the oven, which is a very easy thing to do, especially with Western cooking, we get a lot of heat. And if you look in Asia, traditionally, they didn't really have... in Southeast Asia or Southern China, they didn't have big ovens like to make bread and bake whole roasts and things like that in summer in particular.
So it's important to change or shift, adjust your cooking styles to incorporate more stir-fries, or steaming, or quick sautes, blanching, which just means a dip in hot water. It's a really nice way to have a bit of light cooking. So you're not cooking things soggy or in the oven, but not all raw. And that leads me to the point on raw food, which I think we might've mentioned last time, but I've been hearing a lot more lately... I've been listening to a few people talk about Chinese medicine, but also the correlation with Ayurveda and other natural medicines, and this idea of strengthening or keeping the digestive system strong, and they call it Agni. In Chinese, it's Yang Qi or Yang Pi, Pi being the spleen and stomach, Pi Wei.
So especially in summer, when we think it's really hot and we want to reach for cold orange juice, first thing in the morning, you mentioned having some warm water, or some warm tea, herbal tea first, then you can have whatever else later, so as not to shock the stomach, and spleen, and the whole intestine system. So I really recommend people to keep that in mind, and not burn out or really cool down too much their stomach in spleen.
It's amazing how quickly untethered you can be. And it is the nice thing about summer, is you kind of... the party animal kind of comes out, and so it should because to an extent, you want to be free...
... non-tethered to rules and dogma. But that's... You go... Well what happens, you go that step too far, you become untethered from your reality. Right?
Which is always-
Very easy to do.
Yeah. I mean... And it's such a fine line there. So I mean it's... As you said, it's like simple set up for success. And they're like... When you look at the organ wheel, it's like this time of year, more than ever. It's the easiest, too. And therefore, hopefully the one... the time when everyone can get onto the bandwagon soon. Like, it's get up, go and move your body, get sweating. Help the yang crack through the concrete of the yin, and all the stagnant water, and then have your warm tea, your warm water, and then you've set yourself up right.
And then, when you do inevitably break the rules because you're like, "No, no. I'm going to be good. And I'm not going to have any one of those organic, natural, homemade ice blocks. I'm not going to have too many of those." And then everyone's having one that like... in the mid-morning and you're like, "Oh, why not? I'll just have a little one of those, have another little one."
At least you set yourself up with the principles correctly. And I always want to remind people, remember you can... If you're feeling cold in there, maybe it's a super hot day, and you're like, "This is medicine." Some, maybe. It's... You feel the cold, hang around just a tiny bit. And you sneeze once. You go, "Oh, cool. I'm going to go and have a tea." Boom. If you're really cold, you go, "Oh, cool. I'll just go have a little bit of cinnamon." Even... It's not a bad thing to have cinnamon in the middle of summer.
Just kind of like...
It's simple. Simple little techniques.
Yeah. And you bring up the point... I thought about it earlier to mention, as well, of just listening to your body and seeing what it wants. Because just because everyone is eating, I don't know, a salad or whatever. Mint, things that are cooling, things that I mentioned, you might need more warmth. Some people are still... even though they've come through spring and the wood element, they're still feeling... there's still coldness trapped in there, in their body.
And the fire element is actually about hydration that I've mentioned as well, but also circulation. So the heart is responsible for circulation. And a lot of people will still have cold hands and feet through summer. So that's a perfect example of what you just said. Like, you might need cinnamon. You might still need to have some of those warming herbs and tonics and things like that because you're still cold on the inside even though it's 30 degrees, 40 degrees outside. So it is very much listening to your body and what it needs. And just because Kimberly is talking about cooling foods, maybe it's not going to work for you because you're not warmed up yet, actually.
I think it's... I mean, I've talked about it before with how... before our acupuncturist moved away. And he would... Taney did kind of like... and Taney was vegetarian for so long, but maybe not with your principles in place. I know you help people do this in a way without meat. But with... after Taney came through, she was quite depleted, especially within her spleen. And our acupuncturist was like, "Hey, listen. I know you want to live super seasonally, but you've been off the elemental cycle for so long, it's probably going to be two to three years of you camped out within the spleen, grounding diet. Don't... Just because it's summer, don't run off and just smash a bajillion mangoes and think that you can just go and enjoy the fruits of summer when you haven't actually..." I'm putting it a little bit more bluntly than he did. "You haven't put in the time. You're not listening to your body. You haven't put in the time."
And I kind of feel like this with a lot of people I see. It's like, "Well, you've... It's going to take you a long time before you've got the capacity to warm yourself up and heat yourself up before you can actually go nuts in summer. But you haven't..." Yeah. Because the foundations of the diet haven't been created. And as we said before we jumped on, yes. There's a different principles within each season, which... within each organ, but they are connected-
... by something. There is a continuity that's there, and you kind of have to cultivate that, and know and feel that, and know what your baseline markers are. Know... You need to know what your edges are, so you don't get exhausted. You need to know how to feel, whether you are cold.
You need to be able to perceive what the difference is between you living in a way where you can heat your feet and your hands, and not.
And then you... So maybe you might not be completely exploding into summer or out there into autumn, but you will be going... learning from the principles as we go along. It's an important one. Yeah.
Yeah. Absolutely. And some people... You bring up a great point because some people... like, they might be listening and thinking... especially at the beginning, when we were talking about this explosive energy and warmth and they're like, "I don't feel that. I'm flat or cold or..." And it might take three years for somebody to warm up, or to feel that energy of summer because they haven't had that for so long. Or you live in a really cold place, and your summer's really short, and it takes a lot more energy to get to that fire-iness. So yeah, we need to be very mindful of your climate, your individual constitution, and your condition of where you're living. Someone who's listening, maybe if they're in Singapore, or Hong Kong, or Mexico where it's much warmer the whole year, that's a different story. Right?
You're going to have different foods, and different... Hopefully, you're not having cold hands and feet in a very warm climate. That might actually be an indication of even more severe cold on the inside. But yeah. No, circulation is really important as well in summer. So you mentioned getting up and moving. So exercise and sweating because one of the, the biggest problems with dampness, and I'd love to talk about that as well even though it's more earth element, we can have that at any time of the year. But if it's not being expressed out of the body through sweating, and it doesn't have to be a gym session. Most people think of sweating in that terms, but you can go for a walk in summer, and still sweat. Or you can just dance or do something fun that encourages that energy of upward outwardness, but also the sweating.
But you mentioned mango. So that's why it brought my attention and back to dampness. So in summer, we tend to enjoy lots of fruit, which is great, but you can overdo that, as well. And a lot of the raw fruit in summer, particularly mangos and bananas, tropical fruits of... and those two will... For someone who has dampness issues, which is a stagnation in the spleen, and then it can move up to the lungs as well, and you get mucus. So we want to keep that clean and not being bogged down. So I liken dampness to being like a swamp, or a steam room in your digestive system. It's a very unusual term for us in the West, but something to just keep in mind. And I actually personally think there's a lot of gut issues, and IBS, and things around that.
Whereas if... And if you tie that into Chinese medicine, you're like, "Well, that makes sense." It's just like this bogged down moist, not pleasant environment. So sweating is really key, having the right foods. So just reducing your mangoes or bananas and dairy for a while, and having a lot of those foods that I mentioned earlier, actually. Those bitter flavours, a little bit of cooked foods, and dampness removing foods such as coix seeds or Job's tears. They're around... you can get them in Australia quite easily. And I didn't mention corn yet, but corn is a really nice summer vegetable. And corn silk, which is the hair of the corn, is a really nice thing just to boil... boil the whole corn with that hair, and then drink the water. That is like one of the best ways to get dampness out you. You just pee more. It's fantastic. But again, keeping that water and fluid metabolism balanced and moving, and not overburdening your spleen is key in summer, as well as late summer. Excuse me. But very important in this hot weather. Yeah. I don't know how you feel about dampness.
Oh no. Like just... I mean dampness, I feel like it's the most prevalent issue we see from the Western diet, especially when I came out of the raw vegan... I came out of the raw vegan community. And so that was the biggest... the most common diagnosis that everyone would self-diagnosed, or that you'd... I'd come across a furious acupuncturist who would just be like waving their fist at me in the face for all the damp spleens that we were encouraging and creating. I was quite aware of it early on, because I personally didn't care whether I had to change my diet. Going back onto animal foods was a big change for me. But I didn't... I never... I stayed doing, whether it was bee products or colostrum, I stayed there, with my intention being health.
So for me, when I started, if I would see anything start emerging that showed that I was actually... that my foods were too cold, I'd just change and alter my diet. And so I kind of like... I used to get very annoyed. I was very annoyed by Taoism and Chinese medicine because it would just... it would like ruin the party that we had. Like, we've got the perfect diet.
But it ultimately... It's saving a lot of people. It's like the paramedics at a festival where everyone's gone nuts, going too hard-
... just sitting on the sides like, "Come here. All right. Come on. Yeah. We'll get you on some of these. We'll get you on more of the grounding diet."
It's so true.
And again, I mean, like just pointing out to everyone. I do include meat in my diet. I know you don't. You have a like vegetarian approach to it.
I'm a flexitarian, to be very honest. So the vegans that are listening won't like to hear that. But I've done a bit of-
We've got pretty inclusive vegans listening [crosstalk 00:36:54].
Well that... Maybe I'm a... Yeah. Well, I'm a vegan flexitarian, so I'm not strictly anything. I don't like labels, so I will eat whatever I want when I want. I don't tend to eat much meat anymore. I used to, a lot. But I... Yeah. No, I'm open to eating whatever my body needs, whether it's a little bit of ghee, or some seafood. I maintain an open stance, but yeah. What I really like the challenge of is support... through the TCM lens is supporting people who want to go... who are vegan, vegetarian, because classically TCM's like, "No. You must have meat." I'm like, well, actually... I like to challenge things. You know? I'm like, hang on a second. You can do this with the wisdom of Chinese medicine, and you can do it. It's just not classically in Asia... Well, I mean, Buddhist in the temples and things like that, it can be done, is what I'm trying to say, if you do it properly.
It's there for sure.
But most people just don't do it properly.
Well, and that's the key. And I think there's always a confusion between, well, there's an ideological diet, which that's... that we all... We're all kind of more familiar with that. But then post-ideology, which I think everyone listening has heard us talk at length about post-ideology, there's often... Because nobody... I don't know. I don't know a lot of people doing veganism and vegetarianism quite right, even though I lived within that world of collecting justification about why... But I've never really found outside of Chinese medicine principles, Ayurvedic principles, I didn't really find... I found a lot of unhealthy vegetarians in that community as well.
So but then you get to the healing... You get into healing cycles. And that, likewise, is like a healing cycle from being excessively on Qi, Western meat-fueled, crappy oil-fuel... Nonetheless, you go into the convalescence, you go into the healing cycle. Well, maybe it's a... Maybe you go out of veganism, ideological veganism, and kind of where Tanny was at now. Acupuncturist was like, "Listen, mate. You are going to have to eat meat beyond not just every day. Like, more than one meal a day for like two years, three years." That was his approach about how to get back, and get the spleen so tight and so nourished, and that the foundations are present. And then... Then you can go off, and you earn the right to go and explore the many roads to Rome.
Where your diet, emerging from ancient principles and it comes about... Often I find at that point, that's when meat becomes a side.
In any cultures where they're honed, they've got their diet, they're eating seasonally, and they know their body and they generally know for the body and the people around them, what the signs are that they are in balance nutritionally. So you can see right now there's so much fighting because everyone's fighting about what the ideal diet is, but they're in the convalescence, or the post-ideal logical stage. And that's why we've got still extreme veganism, or cleansing diets, when you come from a Western diet, extreme carnivore when people have been vegan for so long, and they've got no yang left, so they go three years of just eating meat and healing. And they're going, "Oh my God! I bloody found the way. I found it!" And it's all excess.
Yeah. Either way is excess. Exactly. Yeah. And it's about the... Well, that's the beauty of Chinese medicine. So I think when acupuncturists or TCM doctors... because I was in China for so long, and they would be like... quite against vegetarianism because they would see the results of an extreme vegetarian diet, which was pretty much tofu and white rice. That was it. Like, I've seen people in Asia do it, especially when vegetarianism and veganism started only a few years ago in China in a modern Western sense. And it was very depleting. And I was running behind people going, "Don't do this. This is going to give... You're going to give yourself a bad name, the vegetarians and the vegans, because you're just taking the meat out. You're not replenishing. You're not learning about different ingredients, and herbs, and foods, and beans, and grains. You're just eating white rice and tofu, which is not very good at all."
So like you said, we don't want to go to either end of deficiency or excess. You just want to find that middle ground. And that's what Chinese medicine has always been about. Right? And it's not that you'd have to eat lots of meat. They just use meat as a side, or as a medicine really. You know? To strengthen certain organs. And meat also is seasonal. You can put that onto the five elements, as well, and to eat lamb more in winter because it's warming and really building for the young Qi, and things like that.
But that being said, if you're wanting to go a little less heavy in your diet summer, and the fire element is a great time to eat more vegetables, and become 50% vegetarian, whatever you want to have. So plant-based diet or things like that, where you do reduce a little bit of the meat, just on a digestion and heat perspective, it's a great time to explore that, and then use the meat and animal products more in autumn, winter, just to really warm yourself, nourish yourself, build your blood, your Qi. And again, it's that cycle and the five elements. So yeah, we shouldn't be eating lamb roasts all year round, or I don't know, raw arugula salad all year round. It's just-
[inaudible 00:42:22], all year round.
Yeah. Exactly. There's a time... There's a time. And you enjoy those foods more. Right? You're going to enjoy that salad more in summer. You're going to enjoy that lamb roast in winter or a cold day, or whatever it is. Knowing your body, knowing how you feel, you could wake up on a summer's day, or a summer's evening, and want to use the oven and roast some either vegetables or meat or whatever it is. But knowing the energy of the food and the effect on what it'll give to you, that's key, I think, more so than following a food list. And that's what... I mean, I have a food list from Chinese medicine, but you've got to know when to use them, and what you personally want to achieve from your food and cooking it.
Well, I mean, what a great conversation to have. Don't... Yeah. I mean like, and especially that, what you pointed out, like a lot of... whether it's going to be... Like, it's going to be naturopath, same thing, or it's going to be a lot of the TCM doctors who, because of what they've seen and maybe rightfully so... They've seen the aftermath, and I've seen it a lot, of the aftermath of extreme veganism. I've also seen it of keto. So remembering... Just remembering, everyone, that there is an ideological approach to diet. And if you are looking around going, "Gosh, I'm trying to gather evidence. I'm trying to gather evidence that 'Oh, that ancient thing works because of this.' Okay, great. I feel good now. And I'm getting my dopamine hit because I'm right. I'm right. And I feel safe here."
It's not... It's like, acknowledge where you are, but keep on moving. And then, when you're starting to get advice from other people, you'll feel that self-righteousness, especially from the carnivore kind of community at the moment, because they're so self-righteous in knowing that this is the healing because everyone's been such a soy-heavy vegan, vegetarian- dominant, or just eating shitty vegetable oils, and eating lots of crappy cereals, and so they're like, "Yes. This is the ultimate diet." But there is a difference between ideological diet, and then healing diets, and that's where keto kind of comes in. Keto in these little areas for particular clinical situations, it seems to work. And it's great.
But unless you feel the uniqueness, you kind of... You can use these principles, and when you kind of get out of that ideology, and you move past your own convalescence/healing stage, you will feel this uniqueness, and this... You'll feel you can just on walking past the noise, because all these people are gathered down the bottom of the mountain, yelling and angry at each other, and standing on little pedestals that they've made for themselves and tapping themselves on the back...
But if you just don't get distracted, just keep on walking, keep on walking up the hill. And eventually all the noise will fall away, and you can still look at... whether it's Chinese medicine, you can look at Ayurveda, you can look at all the carnivore stuff and vegan stuff, but all of a sudden, the noise will go away. And what will be there is your capacity to cultivate what's right for your body, your family, wherever you are in the world. And it's a great... it's a great feeling. It's only... It's just... It's hard to get attention that way, which is almost good.
I don't think we should be getting that much attention from our diet. We want the attention to be like a magnet kind of eventually, maybe people come and ask us about it later on, when we've cultivated that much vitality, and it... and then where people are naturally attracted. But yelling and screaming about being right, or trying to feel like you've got it right and don't have it wrong, it's... Keep on walking past all of that. And-
And then yeah, picking up some tips along the way with what you are sharing as always helps us just get back into a harmonising kind of flow, which is always helpful.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, absolutely. And you said the word "vitality." So we should feel the most energised and full of vitality in summer. So if you're not, that's a great sign to know that you're doing something off, or you've been living out of harmony for the other seasons. So by the time you get to summer, we should be ready to go and have a beautiful, fun, energising summer and not get burnt out.
So yeah. Hopefully, today again... the theme was more in Chinese medicine, it's all about cooling and hydrating the body and the mind and the heart in summer. Because it's just the way that it tends to go energetically a little bit too high, and too overly excited. So if you're not feeling that way, then there's something to dive into and explore. But for the most part, yeah. Cooling foods, lighter cooking styles, a little bit of spice, a little bit of bitterness through... It's easiest to do through vegetables and herbs. That's why I mentioned it. And keep... yeah. Keep your circulation moving. It's not a good time to sit in front on the sofa. Save that for winter. Yeah. And look after your sleep, and mental, emotional state as well because that can be easily tipped, as well, in this season. So yeah. We can do that through food. We can do that through changing our cooking, as well. And yeah. Then it becomes more enjoyable summer, and you can have those afternoon naps.
I love it. Thanks so much for coming and sharing the wisdom and-
... what we know and you know. It's always nice talking to you, but especially because you've seen this... You've seen this work so many times. And the beautiful thing about Chinese medicine is it comes down to the energy, and the flavour profiles. And so it isn't... As you said, it's not about foods from China. It's about foods from where we're at. So that might mean Chinese foods and herbs, but it's about the energy of the food, and feeling that that energy flows and helps us flow in harmony with the season. So yeah, it's nice. Always... We can personalise all we want.
And I do recommend... I don't know if there's anything else you want to share, but I do recommend everyone goes and checks out your website, which is Qifoodtherapy.com.au?
Oh, just .com? Oh, nice. Global.
Is there anything else you wanted to leave everyone with today?
Just to recap... Yeah. Introduce or explore new flavours and vegetables, and herbs and spices. And summer's a fantastic time because we've got the most choice, whether it's salads, or warm salads, or a little bit of new flavours, vegetables is something... Now's the time to do it. Or summer, when you get round to it if you're in the Northern hemisphere.
Yeah. Yeah. Beautiful. Thank you so much. And yeah. Hopefully, we'll be able to get on soon and chat late summer.
Awesome. Thank you.