Five Elements is also an excellent method for understanding the impact of food on our physical and emotional health. When we look at what foods are locally available seasonally and their effects on our inner health then you start to see connections and patterns. For example in winter we tend to see more root vegetables, dark green vegetables, dried foods and stored food being naturally available. These types of foods tend to be strengthening for our Water Energy, deeply nourishing and helping us ward off the cold and worst effects of the coldest time of year. This also shows us that eating a lot of food imported from hot climates is not going to have a great affect on our bodies. Cooling foods such as tomatoes, bananas and other tropical fruits are available all year round but if we eat a lot of these types of food in the winter we’ll weaken our Water Energy instead of strengthening it.
By the spring we get more variety of food becoming available such as some salads and lighter, less dense vegetables like purple sprouting broccoli and asparagus. These lighter foods help our Tree Energy and Liver and Gallbladder energy to move outwards – so we feel able to embrace the springtime with renewed vitality and move into action.
The summer brings us more salad, fruits and vegetables that help us cool our Fire Energy such as lettuce, cucumbers, courgettes and strawberries. It feels appropriate to eat these fresh cooling foods, and our Heart and Small Intestines will like them too. We don’t want to eat too many of these foods in the winter as they will tend to make us feel cold and depressed..
Late summer brings more squashes and sweeter, slightly denser foods and we need to shift our focus to these types of ingredients in our cooking. These will help nourish our Stomach and Spleen, keeping us grounded, balanced and nourished as the season settles.
In the autumn things change again – with more leafy vegetables and roots becoming available that help us create warmth, oppose too much dampness within the body and support our Metal Energy organs the Lungs and Large Intestine. We can let go, relax into the autumn and feel more balanced emotionally and physically when we eat more of these seasonal foods.
The other things to recognise with food is that how we prepare and cook each ingredient will dictate how it interacts with the Five Elements. For example a raw grated carrot will support our Tree Energy (Liver and Gallbladder) – giving us more light, upward and outward energy. If we roast the same carrot, it will become sweeter and therefore more nourishing and supportive ofour Earth Energy (Stomach and Spleen).