An Acupuncturists Guide to Eating in Autumn

Chinese medicine guide to eating in Autumn

Meet acupuncturist Lisa Holmes. She’s put together a guide to eating in Autumn for all you lovely folks! Drawing on her background in Chinese Medicine and holistic approaches to diet and lifestyle, you’ll find this article really useful as our bodies shift into Autumn-mode 🙂 Learn what to eat, how to eat it, and get some quick and easy tips on Autumn lifestyle. Find out which body systems need a little extra TLC this season and why. 

Lisa Holmes practices Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in England, yes the other side of the pond. We met studying Chinese Herbal Medicine and instantly clicked. And she’s kindly offered all of this seasonal eating and living advice to help you and I live our best lives this Autumn. I hope you enjoy this interview! 

How does Autumn affect us, body and mind?

Autumn is when we start approaching the most Yin (cold) time of the year, transitioning from light into dark. It can be a time when people feel more emotional, as the lungs, which are the Autumn organ are also linked to the emotions of grief and sadness. Also because of less daylight hours, getting up for work in the dark and coming home in the dark, we aren’t really getting our dose of serotonin and this can also greatly effect our mood. We may also find that our skin starts to become a bit drier than usual – again the skin, is classed as part of the lung in Chinese Medicine, so we need to pay attention to this too.

Which organ/aspect of our health requires more care and nourishment during Autumn?

From a TCM perspective, the Autumn is linked with the Metal Element and the Lungs, so anything we can do to boost our immune system and help to stave of the early signs and symptoms of colds and other viruses is paramount.

The Lungs are partnered with its Yang organ the Large Intestines. It’s responsible, physically and metaphorically for “letting go”, whether this be bodily waste and toxins or emotional baggage. Emotionally, this is why the Autumn is a good time to look at things we might be holding onto and let go of them for good. Often, people with elimination problems like chronic constipation can having problems of letting go, as a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, I would look at the emotional aspects of these problems.

What foods are most nourishing during Autumn? /Is it better to eat cold, raw, warm, moist, dry or hot foods during Autumn?

Moisturising and warming and pungent foods are best to eat during the Autumn. Pungent foods reach the lungs to help ward of external pathogens and keep the Wei Qi (defensive energy) strong, whilst the moisturising foods help to prevent the Lungs from drying out, as Autumn is naturally drying, plus they also keep the intestines smooth

White foods are perfect for Autumn, again the colour is associated with the lungs and help to tonify and strengthen them, so make sure you stock up on plenty of:

Ginger, Pears, Apples, Garlic, Onions, Miso, Leeks, Sweet Potato, Walnuts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Lemons & Limes, Cardamom, Chilies, Almonds, Kimchi and Sauerkraut (fermented foods are great for the Spleen too and easily digestible)

Some raw foods are OK as we’re transitioning into the Yin part of the year, but really, we should be avoiding large quantities of salads now as the Spleen and Stomach would literally have to “cook” them so they could be digested, taking vital energy away from the other organs

What would be a good self-care ritual for Autumn?

My number one tip…WEAR A SCARF!!

The Wind is classed as one of the six pernicious evils in Chinese Medicine (the others being Dry, Cold, Heat (Fire), Summer Heat and Damp) and can very easily get into the body via the Bladder Meridian that runs from the inner canthus of the eye, over the head, all the way down the whole of the spine and legs, ending at the outer corner of the little toe nail (BL1 – BL62) – the weakest points being around the neck and shoulders.

External Wind can result in common colds, viruses and fever attacking the system, but it then can go deeper into the body affecting the organs and manifesting as Western Medical Ailments, such as Parkinson’s Disease, Dizziness and Vertigo, Meniere’s Disease (inner ear), Itching Skin and severe Wind Attack can cause a Stroke

Hence why you never see an Acupuncturist/Chinese Medicine Practitioner without their scarves in Autumn/Winter and into early Spring!

Other tips – deep breathing to help strengthen the lungs and Qi Gong Exercises that help to open up the lung meridians. Body brushing, not only to keep dead dry skin at bay, but amazing for the lymphatic system in helping eliminate toxins

Skin Peels plus facial gua sha and cupping also perfect to have done during the Autumn months when the skin isn’t exposed to as much UVA and UVB rays – and still always wear an SPF, there may not be as much UVB around during the Autumn and Winter months but UVA (the ageing one) is always there.

Are there any foods we should avoid eating in Autumn?

Foods that are damp forming – pork, bananas, dairy, fried and greasy foods. I definitely start to transition away from raw salads and cold foods too – everyone in my family knows it’s Autumn when my slow cooker comes out of hibernation.

What’s your favourite Autumn dish?

My favourite go-to lunch would be a simple homemade Leek and Potato Soup with a good helping of garlic (and some crusty bread and butter because we need to indulge from time to time)

I find Autumn is perfect for loads of yummy slow cooked casseroles or curries – nothing better than coming home from work to dinner all ready. A good Chicken, Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Thai Style Red Curry or a Beef Stew with pearl barley, carrots, mashed potatoes and loads of tender-stem broccoli. These dishes are wonderful and nourishing too for the Spleen – as the yellow/orange colour of some of the veggies are associated with the Spleen/Stomach

Chinese Pear, with Snow Fungi and Goji Berries is also delicious as a dessert soup – Snow Fungi is exceptional for anti-ageing skin care

Are there any other tips you’d recommend for living in harmony with nature during Autumn?

Get outside, walking in nature is one of the cheapest feel-good activities that you can ever do. Take time to enjoy the simple pleasures of watching the leaves changing colours and all the gorgeous rich colours of the Autumnal palette.

Eat seasonal, not just for Autumn but all year round – we get the best nutrients for our bodies from things that are grown locally and in season, rather than force grown foods.

Rest more, if we are living in harmony with the world around us then we’ll notice that its starting to slow down, and we should allow ourselves to do the same. Look after the internal aspects of life, eating more warming and nourishing foods. Because the metal element within us gives us our sense of self worth, this is the season to give ourselves some extra attention and self love – take that longer bubble bath, enjoy that aromatherapy massage – so that instead of seeking value outside, like chasing money, power and status, we can be content with ourselves inside and know that we have (and always have had) everything we will ever need and are all perfect, complete beings in our own way

Thanks so much Lisa for sharing your knowledge with us!

Lisa owns Omni Therapy Rooms, a private massage and holistic therapy practice based in the heart of St Helens since May 2008. She offers a wide range of services and products to benefit the whole community and the surrounding areas of Haydock, Ashton, St Helens, Newton le Willows, Warrington, Wigan, Prescot, Huyton and Liverpool – specialising in, Traditional Chinese Acupuncture; gynaecology, fertility and women’s health issues, medical disorders, chronic illness, pain management, Sports Injury services, Skin Aesthetics and Holistic therapies

Lisa Holmes

Teacher, Holistic Therapist, Acupuncturist and Chinese
Medical Practitioner, England.

If you loved this article, follow Lisa on the socials and go visit her website.

Lisa Holmes

Hey there! Welcome to my world of totally natural and powerful healing medicines. Medicines from nature. Medicine from Source. I’m a naturopath and herbalist with extensive clinical experience working with a range of health conditions including hormonal, metabolic, mental health, sleep and more.

I’ve brought together years of clinical and teaching experience, academic skill and curiosity to bring you this blog. I hope you enjoy it! If you do, leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

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