Chinese medicine has an interesting approach to food and eating for better health. Yes, foods can be analysed down to their cellular components. This can reveal the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, or the amount of sugar and salt contained in a particular food. This information can be important to achieve a nutritionally balanced diet for whatever your energy output or goals are. However, food can provide so much more than a fuel source or a number of calories to count.
According to Chinese medicine, food is not only a source of nutrition but also a type of medicine with healing qualities not dissimilar to Chinese herbal medicine. Different foods have particular properties and can be used to treat or help with particular conditions. For example, some foods are warming and nourishing. These will help to replenish the body after illness or exposure to cold. Warming foods include ginger, cinnamon, chicken and dates. Other foods can be cooling and soothing, perfect for hot weather or to reduce the effect of stress on the body. Veggies like celery, carrots and broccoli help reduce heat and tension in the body. For those sweltering summer days eating more lettuce, cucumber and watermelon will help keep your core body temperature down.
Sometimes eating exactly the right type of foods for an ailment or your body pattern can be difficult. I like to think that food should be enjoyed in life and not turned into a strict regime. Usually I recommend clients become aware of what healing properties or seasonal benefits foods contain. They can then apply this knowledge to their daily food intake. This may involve eating more of some foods while reducing their intake of others. For example, sufferers of sleep or skin problems should avoid hot and spicy foods.
For some great resources please check out the following:
- Food for the Seasons – Prof. Lun Wong & Kath Knapsey
A great book combining the basic principles of health and easy recipes
- Healing with Whole Foods – Paul Pitchford
A website dedicated to useful information on transitioning to and maintaining a peaceful, balanced diet
- Shen Healing
A Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic with a focus on gynecology, dermatology and pain management.
- Good Earth Acupuncture
The ‘diet’ section lists foods to consume according to your Chinese medical diagnosis.