Eating According To The Season of Winter
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), one of the common methods of preventing disease and maintaining good health is to eat according to the seasons. The Chinese have the belief that we are what we eat and most of the dietary consumption follows the shifts of nature. TCM philosophies says that if we eat seasonal foods that are similar to the environment at the time, we can remain in harmony with nature, adapt to changes in the season and stay healthy.
Winter is the time of year where most living things slow down to save energy with the exception of certain animals that hibernate. During this season, humans conserve energy and build strength to prepare for the upcoming spring. In TCM theory, it is the belief that during the winter our diets should focus on nourishing yin and reducing yang which means that we should consume more foods rich in appropriate fats and high protein. According to five element theory, winter corresponds to the kidney system. An hyperactive kidney inhibits the heart which can lead to symptoms such as palpitations, cardiac pain, coldness and fatigue in the limbs.
Beneficial foods for the season of winter are lamb, beef, goose, duck, eggs, rabbit meat, Chinese yam, sesame, glutinous rice, dates, longan, black fungus, bamboo shoot, mushrooms, cooked fruits, cooked daikon radish, hawthorne berry, leek and nuts. It is recommended to consume more foods that have bitter flavors and consume less foods with salty flavors which helps to reduce the work on the kidney and promote a healthy heart. Foods that contain bitter flavors are grapefruit, wine (red wine or rice wine can be consumed to help with healthy blood circulation during the cold winter season), vinegar, kale, radish leaves, lettuce, tea, coffee, celery, asparagus, apricot.
Winter is also a great season for people that suffer from chronic conditions to focus on boosting the natural constitution of their body and improve their symptoms. The theory is that the appetite tends to increase over the season of winter and the metabolic rate is lower. This means that the nutrients from the foods are stored more easily in the body. Some herbs to help energize the body are ginseng, wolfberry, angelica, rhemannia root, and astragalus.
Here is a great recipe for the season of winter.
Lamb, Ginger and Longan Soup
Written by Natural Flow of Life Acupuncture and Herbs