Xiao Man (小满) Solar Terms – Diet and General Wellness Guidelines

We will be going into the Xiao Man (小满) solar term (节气) starting from 20 May to 4 Jun 2024. Xiao Man is the 8th solar term out of the entire 24.

The reason it is called Xiao Man is because during this period, grains like barley (大麦) and winter wheat (冬小麦) start to get fuller (饱满). However, the grains still need more time to become fully ripened. Hence it’s called ‘Xiao Man’ (小满, on its way to being fully ripened) instead of ‘Man’ (满, meaning fully ripened).

During this solar term, we can expect to see more rainfall and high temperatures at the same time. This means the environment will be very humid, resulting in dampness (湿邪) developing in the body.

When the body has too much dampness (湿邪), the person will experience symptoms like poor appetite, bloated stomach, lack of energy or not having the urge to drink water. 

The dietary direction for this solar term should be 健脾化湿, which means strengthening the spleen to remove dampness.

Before we go into the recommended list of foods, I strongly recommend you to avoid consuming cold drinks and sweet stuff during this period as it will worsen the dampness in the body.

The following are the top 5 foods recommended during this solar term:

Green Beans (绿豆) – Also known as mung beans, they not only can help to clear heatiness in the body but they can also help to remove dampness by increasing the urination frequency. Compared to red beans, green beans have stronger heat-clearing and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Red Beans (红豆) – Red beans have the properties of clearing heatiness and removing dampness in the body. This is the reason why some people like to mix Chinese barley with red beans for dampness removal. Red beans have stronger dampness removal properties than green beans.

Winter Melon (冬瓜) – Winter melon is a good food to eat during this period because it helps to remove the dampness in the body through urination. It can also reduce body heatiness due to the summer heat.

Chinese Yam (山药) –  Chinese yam is very suitable to be consumed during this period because it can help to strengthen the spleen and improve its ability to get rid of accumulated dampness in our body.

Chinese Barley (薏苡仁) – Another highly recommended food to eat during this period is Chinese barley as it has very strong properties to help with clearing dampness, especially if you have water retention issues in the lower part of your body.

General Wellness Recommendation

During this period, the heart can easily accumulate fire (心火), resulting in insomnia, dizziness, feeling frustrated, and/or irregular/heavy heartbeat.

The main lifestyle recommendation is to reduce the heart fire or prevent it from going into an excessive state.

Meditating is an effective way to reduce heart fire. Do consider meditating before sleep. It can help to reduce the heart fire and calm the mind.

For best results, you can enjoy a book after meditation (instead of using mobile devices) and go to bed when you start to feel sleepy.

Another important thing to note during this period is to avoid doing strenuous exercises.

The reason is that such exercises will make you sweat a lot and in TCM, there is a saying “汗为心之液” – which means the sweat is actually fluid from the heart. This also means that excessive sweating will deplete the heart’s Yin energy and thus, making one’s heart go into the heart fire (心火) state easily. Try to go for light exercises so you won’t sweat so much.

If you have been sweating a lot during this period, make sure you add some lily bulbs (dried or fresh) to your diet as lily bulbs can help to replenish your heart Yin energy.

Another simple way to replenish heart Yin energy is to drink more water. But if you’re unable to do so for practical reasons (especially during work), then consuming lily bulb will be a better way.

Hope you find this post helpful and have a healthy Xiao Man solar term!

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