What to eat according to Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine we believe how you eat and live has a direct effect on your overall well being and stamina. We also think there is no one super diet that suits all people – by looking at your symptoms, body type and lifestyle we will suggest which of the Chinese patterns fits your constitution and encourage you to eat appropriately. For us foods are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but they all have a specific effect on the body. Knowing what foods help or hinder your conditions are key to long term prevention and management of your health.

Starting with ‘Heat’ – heat often shows up as a fast pulse, short temper, headaches, red eyes, high stress levels, dark urine, inflammatory conditions, redness in the skin – especially the face, heartburn, yellow coating on the tongue, dry mouth, thirst and hunger, bleeding gums and short menstrual cycles. Heat moves things along – sometimes to quickly and diet is used to cool and slow down its effects.

Avoid: Coffee, alcohol in general especially wines and whiskies, chilli, beef and lamb.

Include plenty of the following: (generally fresh fruit and plenty of drinking water is good). Avocado, green leafy veg, salad veg, cucumber, green mung beans, rice, oats, bamboo shoot, banana, bitter gourd, clam, crab, grapefruit, persimmon, salt, seaweed, star fruit, sugar cane, water chestnut, watermelon, lotus root, cucumber, barley, bean curd, chicken, egg white, oyster, pear, peppermint, radish, strawberry, tangerine, and yoghurt, broccoli, cauliflower, courgette, corn, tomatoes, pineapple, turmeric, soya.

Herbal teas – nettle, camomile, peppermint, black tea

Food preparation: Steamed, boiled, raw

Exercise: Gentle tonifying like yoga, swimming, walking and cycling. Avoid over exercising.

Some ‘Heat’ conditions have an underlying deficiency of ‘Yin’ – or the natural cooling properties of the body. In these cases we look to add foods that build this coolness up rather than let off steam. A lack of Yin or moisture in the body might display a mixture of the above heat signs and the following; a thin narrow pulse, pale or cracked tongue, dry skin and hair, scanty periods, fatigue, dizziness, poor vision, night sweats, hot flushes, insomnia and a dry cough.

Include plenty of the following; Avocado, green leafy veg, salad veg, cucumber, green mung beans, rice, oats, barley, millet, fish, chicken, spirolina, chlorella, seaweeds, coconut, honey, royal jelly, black beans, kidney beans, sweet potato, root veg, blueberries, blackberries, mulberry, flax, pumpkins, sunflower, black sesame, pork, duck, lamb, eggs, oyster, fresh figs and dates, maca, banana

Food preparation: Keep foods well cooked and easy to digest. Minimise raw food preparation.

Exercising: Gentle restorative like yoga, walking and pilates. Avoid cardio exercise or that which makes you sweat. Make sure you get 8 hours min sleep / night or allow yourself an afternoon nap.

Yin Breakfast:

  1. Mash together – 1 ripe avocado, 1 teaspoon spirolina, 1 tablespoon flax oil, salt and pepper to taste and have on toasted rye bread.
  2. Poached eggs on rye toast with rocket and omega oils.
  3. Oat porridge with chopped pears, figs, dates, maca powder and cinnamon – use rice / nut milk.
  4. Yin smoothie:1 ripe pear, 1 ripe avocado, 1 teaspoon spirolina, 1 tablespoon protein powder and almond milk to taste.
Damp‘ conditions are sticky, heavy and sluggish. Modern food choices contribute to damp accumulation and combined with living in a damp northern hemisphere country, these conditions are the most common and yet often hardest to change since they involve the most abstinence!
Damp can be hot or cold, but it tends to show up in the body in the form of mucus. This might be in the respiratory system, the sinuses, the bowels or the reproductive system. It’s cloying and heavy nature creates muzziness in the head and limbs. In the acupuncture clinic we would look for water retention, bowel problems, weight gain, general fatigue, thick coating on the tongue, and sluggish metabolism.

What to avoid is more important with Damp providing the rest of the diet is balanced and healthy.

Avoid: Dairy, sugar, refrigerated foods, raw uncooked foods, bananas, peanuts, fried foods, beer, mushrooms,  vinegar, refined wheat products, iced water, chocolate.

The following are particularly helpful in supporting damp conditions:  rice, toasted oats, sourdough breads, buckwheat, millet, rye, root veg, pearl barley, aduki beans, alfafa, miso, garlic, onion, cinnamon, ginger, scallion, basil, rosemary, dill, oregano, sage, parsley, cardamom, nutmeg, fennel, anise, clove, coriander, leek, chives, turmeric, asparagus, leeks, stewed fruit- esp. pears,

Herbal teas : dandelion, fennel, ginger and lemon, licorice, nettle.

Food preparation:  Baked and grilled are ideal. Keep all foods well-cooked and chew food thoroughly. Use max 1 tablespoon oil if frying onions for stews. Do not drink water alongside meals – drink plenty before and after. Eat at regular time and never skip breakfast. Start the day with warm water and lemon.

Exercise: All types good for the damp condition though not excessive swimming. Avoid swimming if menstruating.

Lifestyle: Keep long hair dry outside, clothing completely dry, homes dry and well ventilated. Keep moving throughout the day – if doing sedentary work take full advantage of lunch break to walk around town.

Heat-Damp accumulation: Similar to cold-damp what you cut out usually provides the greatest benefit. Additionally avoid alcohol and excessive chilli. Include plenty of bitter and sour flavours.

Keep foods easy to digest, boiled, steamed, baked and grilled. Make sure salads if taken are at least room temp.

 

Examples of cooking for damp conditions:

Porridge made with water, cinnamon, ginger, almonds and chopped figs

Beans on toasted rye bread

Root vegetable stew with 1 tablespoon miso stirred in just at the end

Baked sweet potato with tomato and aduki bean stew

Tahini sauce – tahini mixed with lemon juice, salt and fresh garlic with oat cakes

Grilled fish, steamed greens and brown rice

Warm millet / quinoa salad with rocket, grilled chicken, spring onions and fresh herbs,

Yellow mung bean, carrot and butternut squash soup with turmeric, cinnamon and cumin

Mashed potato / root vegetables with olive oil, coconut cream, garlic and herbs

Baked polenta with ratatouille

Baked fruit stuffed with raisins / dates / nuts and live yoghurt

Chicken soup / casseroles / stews

Dahls with all pulses, grain and green vegetables