Spring Cleaning

Blake Baxter HHC

We’re six weeks into Spring. For those of us in colder climates, it seems Springtime is just getting started. Nevertheless, now is a good time to talk about what the season means for diet and nutrition, and how the season affects one’s nutritional needs.

Spring is a season for change and for elimination of the old, making way for the new. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring is associated with organs of purification: the liver and the gall bladder. It is also, not surprisingly associated with the color green, as well as the Wood element, which represents growth and expansion. It is a good season to focus on your diet and exercise.

Nutritionally, Spring is a good time for fasting, for elimination diets, and for incorporating more green vegetables, particularly leafy greens:

Kale
Collards
Spinach
Mustard greens
Dandelion greens
Arugula
Beet greens
Endive
Chicory
Frisee
Romaine
Bok choy
Broccoli rabe
Green leaf lettuce
Red leaf lettuce

Being all about change, this is a perfect time to reconsider whether you are eating enough greens. Leafy green vegetables are high in fiber and chlorophyll and will assist in elimination of toxins and waste from the system.

Suggestion: Pick a day this week and grab a head of Kale or Collards (preferably organic).   Steam it or blanch it, add a little sesame or olive oil and some sesame seeds. Eat a big bowl of this on a empty stomach and give it a little time to digest before eating anything else. Remember to chew slowly.

Fasting is a good Springtime practice for those in good health. The Master Cleanser diet is a popular fast, and involves consuming nothing but a mixture of distilled or spring water with fresh squeezed lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for up to 2 weeks. Nothing else is eaten. (Use your favorite search engine to find the exact recipe). However, as an athlete in training, two weeks without food may not be a good idea. Light exercise during a cleanse is important, but a serious workout may not be wise. You can always do a short cleanse that lasts only a day or two.

Other cleanses involve using various types of fruit and vegetable juices (always taken separately). Some cleanses change on a daily basis, starting with the elimination of chemical additives, then animal meats, then dairy, then nuts and seeds, then grains, then fruits and vegetables, sustaining on only liquid for several days before re-introducing the foods in reverse order, except for the additives.

A great publication on Springtime fasting is “Staying Healthy with the Seasons” by Elson M. Haas, MD. Various forms of fasting are covered, including the ones described above, and I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in fasting.

Speaking of chemical additives, Spring is a perfect time to think about eliminating them from your diet entirely. Be a little more vigilant about reading labels and start to eliminate foods that contain preservatives, flavorings, and colorings.

Another type of fast is one that you already do every day. Between the time you stop eating at night and the time you eat again in the morning is a decent length fast in itself. Hence the term: Breakfast. It literally means you are breaking your nightly fast. This fast can easily be extended by eating your last food earlier in the evening, and by starting your morning with water, juice, fruits and vegetables before moving on to other foods. Your stomach is empty in the morning, what you put in there is going to have a powerful effect. Take one week and try eating nothing but fruit for breakfast, and see how you feel.

Spring is a time of change. Make room for the new by clearing out the old, inside and outside of your body. Rededicate yourself to eliminating junk food and chemical additives entirely from your diet. Reduce your dependance on animal meats and dairy, and make an effort to use free-range and organic meats and dairy when you do consume them. Decrease sugar all around. Increase your intake of nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables. Go out and eat a green leafy vegetable – tonight!  Your game can only improve.

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