There is so much conflicting information about food and diet that it becomes nearly impossible to know what the ‘best food’ is! In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are not ‘good’ foods or ‘bad’ foods; there are appropriate foods and inappropriate food for a specific individuals, just as there are appropriate herbs for each individual depending on what their health needs are. Yang warming herbs would be quite beneficial for an individual who is cold and/or fatigued; however, the same warming herbs may cause irritation or headaches in someone who is thirsty and experiencing night sweats. Like herbs, foods have different energetic qualities; they can be warming or cooling depending on their properties. In TCM, food therapy is simply part of the larger system of medicine which includes acupuncture and herbal medicine.
“I thought salad was good for me!”
According to TCM, there are three very important errors in this statement:
- No one dietary guideline is going to be correct for all individuals.
- Raw foods tend to be ‘Cold’ and an overconsumption of them will damage the Spleen’s energetic organ system. Meaning, in Chinese medicine the Spleen is paired with the Stomach and is central in the proper digestion and absorption of food and nutrients. Therefore, a diet with an overabundance of raw/cold vegetables or juiced vegetables may have the opposite effect on your health.
- The signal that the digestive system is not working properly is typically noted through more abundant loose bowel movements; this is actually a symptom of Spleen damage in TCM.
Therefore if you are already having looser bowel movements, then cold salads can make you more sluggish, tired, and running for the toilet. Something that you think should help is actually hindering your healing process.
Helpful Diet Tips
- Taking time to enjoy your meal will be the next part of the learning process. You will get more nutritional goodness if you sit down at a table versus running around with food in your hand.
- Try to include ½ cup each of cooked leafy greens, beans-legumes, vegetables, nuts-seeds, mushrooms, onions, and some local seasonal fruit every day; this leaves little appetite for poor nutritional choices.
- It is imperative that breakfast be included as part of a healing regiment, especially if you are trying to lose weight as the Spleen is most active in the morning.
- For hunger between meals and to avoid snacking, consider broths and miso soup.
- All meals should try to be consumed before 7:30PM.
- It should be assumed that organic and locally grown foods would be preferred when available