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  • Writer's picturekathrineunguyen

Fall Season - How to choose foods

Fall is the season of harvest, a time to pull inward and gather together on all levels, a time to store up fuel, foods, and warm clothing, a time to study and plan for the approaching stillness of winter. Everything in nature contracts and moves its essence inward and downward. Leaves and fruits fall, seeds dry, the sap of trees goes into the roots. The earth’s grasses start to lose their deep green color, turning lighter and drier.

Fall Foods

Due to the contracting nature of Fall season, we should be heightened by choices for more astringent as well as heartier flavors and foods. Be cautious with extremely sour foods, because small amounts have a strong effect. In general, cook with less water, and at lower heat. This is a transition season into winter time, so the bitter and salty flavors move energy strongly inward and downward.


When someone has a dry condition, it usually is related to the lungs, and could have been caused by imbalances in the diet, excessive activity, adverse climate, and/or organ malfunction. The major symptoms of dryness in the body are thirst, dryness of skin, nose, lips, and throat, and itchiness. To help reducing dryness in the body, choose more moisten foods such as: tofu, tempeh, soy milk, spinach, millet, pear, apple, persimmon, loquat, seaweeds, black and white fungus, almond, pinenut, peanut, sesame seed, honey, dairy products. Using a little salt in cooking also moistens dryness. However, using bitter, aromatic, and/or warming foods with caution because these foods dry the body.

How to choose foods for common syndromes of the Lungs?

The first lung syndrome, the onset of conditions such as the common cold and flu, has been described earlier as an exterior invasion of the lungs by wind. If such exterior conditions are not cleared up, they can develop into heat in the lungs. Depending on symptoms you have, here are some recommendation for food therapy:

a- Heat congesting the lungs: some symptoms such as fevers accompanied by chills, a red tongue with a dry, yellow coating. In addition, there is a dry cough, shortness of breath, sore throat. There may also be thick, yellow-green sputum with pus, or even rank, bloody pus, and yellow nasal discharge.

Strategies: adding foods and herbs which cool the heat and transform sputum in the lungs. Watercress*, white fungus*, cantaloupe, apple, persimmon, peach, pear, strawberry, citrus, seaweeds, mushroom, daikon radish, radish, carrot, pumpkin, kudzu, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, chard, papaya. Herbs include horehound leaf and chickweed. The majority of the diet should be in the form of soups. Soups and congees of millet, barley, or rice are cooling and soothing for lung heat.

Avoid: warming and/or congesting foods including coffee, alcohol, lamb, chicken, beef, warming fish (e.g., trout, salmon, anchovy), onion family members (especially garlic), cinnamon, ginger, fennel, etc.

b- Phlegm in the lungs: usually caused by weak digestion or too much mucus forming foods (citrus fruits, salt, milk and other dairy products). Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, or asthma accompanied by sticky phlegm. If the tongue coating is greasy white color, that is phlegm cold. If greasy yellow coating, that is phlegm heat.

Strategies: Diet should be digested easily. It is best to eat simple, small meals. Using thermal nature foods that transform, reduce, or expel phlegm depend on phlegm cold or phlegm heat, plus flaxseed, turnip, coltsfoot, mushroom. For phlegm cold, use fennel, fenugreek, cayenne, garlic and other members of the onion family, horseradish, fresh ginger, elecampane root. For phlegm heat, use cold foods, and herbs such as watercress, radish, daikon radish, cereal grass, seaweeds, nettles, mullein leaf.

Avoid: all dairy foods, mammal meats, peanuts, tofu, tempeh, miso, soy sauce, soy milk and other soy products, amasake and all other sweeteners except stevia leaf.

c- Unproductive cough: usually have dry, with little or no sputum, sometime tinged with blood, periodic fever, frequent thirst, fresh-red cheeks and tongue, hot palms and soles, night sweats.

Strategies: using foods that moisten, cool, and nourish the lungs. These include seaweeds, spirulina and chlorella micro-algae, orange, peach, pear, apple, watermelon, tomato, banana, string bean, soy milk, tofu, tempeh, sugar cane, flaxseed, butter and other dairy products. Herbs include marshmallow root, slippery elm bark, the bulbs of tiger lily and other lilies, and Solomon’s seal root.

Avoid: All warming foods and spices. Too much bitter flavor in the diet is drying, and should avoid.

Source: From the book "Healing with whole foods" by Paul Pitchford

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