An Introduction to Chinese Nutrition

TCM is a holistic system of medicine that places huge importance on diet and lifestyle in order to maintain health. In fact, food can be considered as medicine that can help you to heal faster and prevent any illness. According to Chinese dietetics, different foods have different energetic properties; some are warming such as ginger, others are cooling such as mint. The energetic nature of each food will affect different organs and different channels so a TCM practitioner can advise you on a suitable diet for your constitution.

Generally speaking, a well-balanced Chinese diet involves eating in accordance with the seasons; when the weather is very cold, eat warming dishes and add acrid spices, in summer eat cooling dishes. A good diet means more than just good food, you should take the time to enjoy each meal, always eat sitting down and eat at regular times.

Here are the top 10 principles:

  1. Eat good quality, unprocessed foods (organic where possible).
  2. Eat in a relaxed and pleasant environment and don't rush - enjoy your meals!
  3. Your digestive qi likes routine so try to eat at regularly (3-5 times per day) at the same times each day.
  4. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like an emperor and dinner like a beggar.
  5. Try not to drink water at meal times - this dilutes your digestive fire, (if you must, squeeze in some lemon to support digestion).
  6. Eat according to the seasons; salad in summer, root veg in winter - nature knows best!
  7. Avoid too much cold/raw foods - these can reduce the energy in the centre burner and hinder digestion, also if you have a deficient condition your body may not have the strength to break down and absorb all the nutrients so warm/cooked foods are better.
  8. Avoid too much dairy or fatty/greasy foods as these can cause dampness and phlegm.
  9. Avoid too much sugar or alcohol –these can also cause dampness, phlegm or heat.
  10. Avoid excessive fasting –this weakens your middle burner and damages your blood and essence.

Deborah Tanguy BHSc, MBAcC
Lead practitioner at Wholebody Acupuncture and a registered member of the British Acupuncture Council with a special interest in treating women's health and injury recovery.