Eat with the Seasons: Autumn

 Seasonal eating is a key part of TCM diet and nutrition and it is a bit more than just eating your seasonal farmers market’s produce.

The Chinese calendar divides the year into 24 seasonal points 二十四节气 (also called “solar terms”). These 2-week long seasonal periods make up the 5 seasons. There are certain foods, both dried and fresh, that are more suitable for a particular seasonal point. Since the dietary recommendations for adjacent seasonal points are often similar, and many of you live in climates that may not experience all 24 seasonal points, so we’ve summarized this wisdom into 5 seasons to make the information more practical. 

For example, if you live in the Southern hemisphere, you should refer to “Winter” when you are experiencing “Summer.” 

Let us eat with season and tune-in to mother nature.


Autumn Seasonal Points 节气


End of Heat | 处暑 | 08.22 - 09.06

End of Heat implies that most parts in China are getting rid of the hot summer and entering autumn.


White Dew | 白露 | 09.07 - 09.21

White Dew is the real beginning of cool autumn. The temperature declines gradually and the vapors in the air often condense into white dew on the grass and trees at night.


Autumnal Equinox | 秋分 | 09.22 - 10.07

Autumnal Equinox lies at the mid-point of autumn, dividing autumn into two equal parts, after which the location of direct sunlight moves to the south - days become shorter and nights longer in the Northern Hemisphere.


Cold Dew | 寒露 | 10.08 - 10.22

At this time, temperatures are much lower than in White Dew in most areas of China. The dew is greater and colder and there will be less rain.


First Frost | 霜降 | 10.23 - 11.07

First Frost marks the last solar term of autumn, during which time the weather becomes much colder than before and frost begins to appear.


Autumn Dietary Key Words

Lung health

Metal element

Aromatic flavors

Yin-nourishing, Moistening, White-toned foods


Autumn's "Good" Food List

  • Vegetables: cauliflower, snow fungus, shiitake mushroom, sweet potato, Chinese yam, parsnip, lotus root, spinach, brussel sprouts, pumpkin, soybean sprouts, leek, broccoli sprouts, water chestnut, fennel, onion, watercress, chestnut
  • Fruits: apple, tangerine, pear, golden kiwi, guava, sugar cane, persimmon, peach, pomelo, fig, ginkgo nut
  • Protein:  silken tofu, duck egg, duck, river fish, crab, black bean, sesame
  • Carbohydrates: glutinous rice, oats, red rice
  • Herbal: American ginseng 西洋参, Sha Shen 沙参, Yu Zhu 玉竹, Mai Dong 麦冬, lily bulb 百合, lotus seed 莲子, monk fruit 罗汉果, Huang Jing 黄精、chrysanthemum 菊花、osmanthus 桂花, Huai Shan 淮山, apricot kernel 杏仁, Chuan Bei 川贝
  • Other: honey, spices, tahini, rice wine, extra virgin oils
  • To Limit: crackers, chips, dry or baked goods
Written by Five Seasons TCM


Hi, is Asian ginseng recommended for a different season? Here I only see American. Thanks!

Kary on Oct 28, 2021

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