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TCM Winter Guidance


As we are now in the midst of Winter, its obvious that is the season which is the most cold, slow, dark and carries the element of inward energy (Yin) in contrast to Summer being hot, quick, light, expansive (Yang).

As discussed in Heart Light Rising’s First publication on Autumn, how and what we should eat, is dependent on the conditions and the environment around us.

So we need to adapt not only our diet but also our activities to enrich the Yin of our bodies*1 and subdue the Yang. So we need to stay warm but also hydrated and nourished at the same time, which in return helps our immune systems and bodies to stay fit and strong to be able to prevent disease. We also need to conserve and build our energy as a prelude to the next season being Spring.

Winter is related to the element of Water and in return the Kidney’s & Bladder and on a more detailed level, the adrenal glands, bones & teeth.

Can’t stress enough how big a role the Kidneys play in our health and existence, they hold our bodies most basic and fundamental energy (Jing). So Winter is a good time to rest the Kidneys and revitalize, hence why some animals naturally hibernate in Winter.

Also a great time to go inward, reflecting on ourselves.

Tai Chi and Qi Gong are also great practices to take up.

Now that you know what organs Winter is connected to, we can talk about what foods to eat and you will see why and how they are connected.

Its so important to observe the nature already gives us the guidance to what we should be eating. As what is easily grown in season is always the best way to eat and live.

Also as it is the most Yin (cold, slow) in energy we need to eat warm, slow cooked foods that will help nourish our bodies, our blood, our body fluids and our kidney energy.

The food I will mention will also help relieve any stagnant energy caused by a lack of activity and the cold weather.

One major way in Chinese Medicine to warm and tonify our Yin and our Jing is through eating broths especially bone broths. No surprise as we talked about how the Kidney’s are connected to the quality our bones, bone broths can be used almost as powerful healing tonics and used as nutritional therapy.

So its always advised for Winter to avoid cold, raw foods and eat more well cooked stews, soups and drinks, as excessive cold can cool our body and deplete our digestive “fire”*2

In the exception of people eating too many high calorie foods and greasy food which is hot in nature (this is different to warming the body), in this case it can cause excessive heat and can accumulate in Lungs and Stomach, can cause bronchitis, sore throats, skin problems etc, then it is necessary to balance with a certain amount of cool dishes.

So I will list below all the foods and ingredients that should be ingested in Winter and I have also included a chinese style dish that represents all the great aspects to nourish your Yin and warm your beautiful body:

  • Soups & Stews (cooked longer, lower temperatures with less water)

  • Root vegetables

  • Plenty of dark leafy greens

  • Kidney & black beans

  • Walnuts

  • Black sesame seeds

  • Whole grains

  • Seaweeds

  • High protein & appropriate fats (duck, chicken, beef, eggs, rabbit)

  • Chinese yam

  • Glutinous rice

  • Dates, chestnuts

  • Black fungus

  • Bamboo shoot

  • Mushrooms

  • Leek

  • Cabbage

  • Apples, pears

Also reduce salty food and eat more bitter flavours (a small amount of unrefined sea salt is good but in moderation)

Bitter foods apricot, asparagus, celery, tea, grapefruit, kohlrabi, rashish leaves, kale, vinegar, rice wine.

Energizing herbs such as ginseng, wolfberry, angelica, rhemannia root, astragalus and medicinal mushrooms can be used for this purpose

Black Bean Congee

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS:

Promote kidney health.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Black bean 黑豆 – 2 spoons

  • Little red bean 紅小豆 – one spoon

  • Chinese Yam (shan yao) 山藥 – 30gm

  • Goji-berry / Chinese Wolfberry (gou ji zi) 枸杞子 – 10 to 20

  • Rice – half cup

1. Soak beans and yam for 2 hours and rinse.

2. Soak goji-berry for 30 minutes and rinse.

3. Rinse rice. Bring 4 cups of water in a pot to a boil and put in all ingredients. When boil again, lower heat to medium and cook for about 45 minutes or until beans are soft. Add water to the cooking if necessary.

USAGE:

No limitation. Eat in the evening with dinner for best result.

* 1The Yin of our bodies includes things like our body fluids & blood.

*2 explain digestive fire which is the ability to assimilate food efficiently

 

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