Summer is here.

It’s hot, hot hot and here in Victoria that means long days, lots of backyard cricket, endless days swimming of lying by the local pool or hours spent running under the sprinkler.

According to Chinese Medicine Summer is considered the fire season,  also know as the yang season.  And like yang, summer is the time of expansion.  A time to run & play. The inner classics also suggest we express the yang principles with growth, lightness, outward activity , brightness & creativity.

These principles should be applied to the food we encourage our children to eat during this time.

  • Choose brightly colored food, enjoy a picnic creating a cool atmosphere,  and serve more cooling fresh fruit & veggies. Serve light small frequent meals avoiding too much heating foods such as fresh ginger & peppers.  Encourage kids to get outside, wake early and play in the sun (15-20) minutes a day to get adequate vitamin D, without sunscreen, however try to avoid the hottest part of the day usually between 11am & 3 pm).
  • During summer it is also important to ensure children drink plenty of water.  Water, cools fire which is vital, especially if children are showing signs of heat including red cheeks & frequent sweating.  Omega 3 Fish oils are also important during summer.  Just like as engine in a car needs oil & water to run smoothly and prevent overheating so do little bodies.
  • During summer it is essential to eat foods that strengthen & support the heart, cool the symptoms of summer heat, nourish the kidneys and boost the spleen as well as dry any dampness within the body.
  • The heat of summer can make hard work for the digestive season, however it is also important to be careful with ice drinks & ice cream as they contract the stomach & stop digestion.  This also goes for raw fruit & vegetables. Too much of a good thing can lead to stomach aches & pains in young children. In order to support the spleen ensure that adequate amounts of lightly cooked or baked foods are included in the diet. Stew some of the fruit with a little cinnamon.

A child with a weakness of the spleen, often shows flaccid muscles alongside the spine, digestive problems, vomiting, diarrhoea, sallow complexion; a child that is quiet and may be thin or, if the child has Phlegm, fat when new-born, getting thinner after one month.  Children’s digestive system and Spleen are weak by definition. This weakness, however, is aggravated by various factors such as giving children food that is too difficult to digest, overfeeding, and feeding too frequently.  Foods to support the spleen include rice, cooked whole grains, oats, roasted barley, sweet rice, spelt, millet
pumpkin, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, corn, parsnips, yams, peas, stewed fruit, onions, leeks, garlic, turnip, mushroooms including oyster & shitake chick peas, black beans, kidney beans, fava beans, walnuts and small amounts of chicken, beef and lamb.

Dampness in children is often indicated by constant runny nose, relentless cough, diarrhea or eczema.  If your child is experiencing try adding kiwi fruit, asparagus, adzuki beans, corn, stawberries, and rice to the menu.

Bitter tasting foods in Chinese medicine can clear heat from the body, especially from the heart.  This is important for young children as too much heat in the heart can lead to trouble sleeping as well as irritability, fearful, night crying as well as a child that is tense.  Good foods to include are:
celery, spinach, cucumber, lettuce, dandelion greens, radish, asparagus, eggplants, cabbage, chinese cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, corn, beets, turnips, carrots, parsley, sprouts, watercress purslane,  bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, apples, pears, watermelon, barley, rye, yogurt, mung beans, aduki beans, spirulina, crab, oysters and clams.
If you child is showing signs & symptoms of heart heat it is important to restrict or avoid
roasted, fried and deep fried foods in general chilies, cinnamon, ginger, black
pepper, garlic, mustard, horseradish, chocolate,red meats, shrimp, cheese, eggs,  and peanuts.

Specific heat clearing foods include:

Avocados, bananas, kiwi fruit, mulberries, peaches, pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, asparagus, bailey, celery, cucumber and tomatoes.

Chinese medicine also regards the kidneys as one of the important organs and associated with your body’s constitution.  If the kidneys are weak the body will have  developmental problems for children such as delayed walking or speech, bed-wetting, poor energy, lassitude, no drive, thin body, asthma-eczema as well as headaches from early age.   Increase salty foods in favor or sweet adding foods such as prawns, lamb, black beans, walnuts, and goji berries which can tonify & support the kidneys.

So whats on the menu:

 In season Include:

apricots, boysenberries, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, currants, lemons, limes, nectarines, oranges, passionfruit, peaches, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, mulberries, youngberries, cherries, currants, honeydew melon, rockmelon, watermelon, peaches, plums, rhubarb, kiwifruit, figs, grapes,

asparagus, asian greens, beans, beetroot, broad beans, cabbages, capsicum, celery, cucumber, carrots, daikon, eggplants, garlic, kohlrabi (green), leek, lettuces, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, snow peas, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini, avocado, okra, onions, peas, radishes, spring onion, pumpkins

bay leaf, parsley, mint, rosemary, thyme, chives, oregano, marjoram, sage, bronze fennel, dill, basil, watercress

Northern Hemisphere

  • Fruit: apple, date, lemon, mandarin, orange, pear, tangerine
  • Veges: brussels sprout, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chestnut, kale, Jerusalem artichoke, leek, parsnip, potato, swede, sweet potato, turnip
  • Herbs: Garlic, ginger
 For a more comprehensive guide to your area in Australia & a guide to your local farmers markers visit
Pitchford, P. (1993) 3rd Ed. Healing with Whole Foods.  Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition.
Professor Wong, L & Knapsey, K (2002) Food for the Seasons.  Black Dog Books.