last update: 3-31-2015
“The most important thing is Qi” – Dr. Amy Tseng
Traditionally the Chinese way of eating is based on ‘Qi’ energy (force that maintains our vital signs). This is done to maximize the daily amount of qi that we are given. It is important to note that many indigenous cultures seem to have naturally figured out what is best suited for them. For instance- those in tropical regions tend to eat what naturally cools them down, while those in Polar Regions tend to eat what will keep them warm. The diet is based on some of the principles of the macrobiotic diet- which is eating according to where you are. Currently I am living in a North American temperate zone that has four seasons- Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, so I must adjust my diet to this climate. If I were to move to a polar or tropical temperate zone then I should change accordingly, but because I am a zone that has 4 seasons, I must not eat as if I were in any other zone. This means that tropical fruits and vegetables, imported fruits and vegetables from Europe, Asia, Africa, etc. are really of no use for me. If I were to live in the Tropical region then it is good to eat the local foods there, including the spicy which will make a person sweat to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke; however the tropical diet is not important for my current living zone. The best concentration of food sources are local and regional areas. Another good thing to consider in diet is organic food sources. Today our meats and vegetables are not fully raised properly. Livestock is often raised in factory type settings with steroids and anti-biotics, farms may be using toxic pesticides, and industry farming can deplete the minerals in the soil.
The Chinese diet is based on thousands of years of research in many Taoist monasteries. These places have researched the energies of the diet for health and medical benefits. The food energies are based on 5 energy types. Cold food energy is a weak force that makes the person feels generally tired. Cool food energy generally has a cooling effect on the persons system. Warm food energy have a warming and nourishing effect on the human body. Hot or Fire food energy is strong and has a heating effect that generally makes the person seem to have a lot of energy, but is the most dangerous of them all. Neutral food energies do not change body temperature. The cold and fire foods are the ones to avoid because they throw the ‘qi’ off balance by being extremes. A combination of these cold and hot/fire extremes leads to ‘Empty Fire’ leading to serious imbalances.
Cold energy foods are usually raw and uncooked vegetables, tropical fruits and vegetables, raw meats like cold cuts and sushi. Eat these very rarely if at all, if you are in cold weather regions. The raw and uncooked foods tend to make the stomach overwork thereby using much of the bodies ‘qi’ energy just to be able to break and digest it. We are not concerned with vitamins and minerals of the food, but how to maximize your daily energy. This diet is not based on calories, carbohydrates nor protein but solely the ‘qi’ energy. People with cold energy symptoms may be more timid or afraid, prone to feeling cold, have a hard time waking up, feel generally fatigued.
Some of the cold foods include:
Sushi, Salads, Celery, cucumbers, pineapple, coconuts, mangos, cold cuts, cold drinks, cauliflower, Bok Choi, Mung bean sprouts, seaweed, turnip, tofu, Asian pear, banana, kiwi, rhubarb, watermelon, grapefruit, clams, crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp, veal, juices.
Hot or Fire foods Should be avoided, or very rarely. These are foods cooked under direct fire like barbecued, grilled, baked, and cooked in oil, spicy, fried, roasted, melted cheese. These are also foods with high amount of toxins and sugars.
Some of these Hot/fire foods include: caffeine, coffee, chocolate, deep fried foods, baked foods like pizza, black pepper, curry, MSG, poppy seeds, sesame, spicy, candy, soda, avocado, chili, chips and fries, eggplant, raw onion, red pepper, roasted nuts, lychee, tangerine, eel, lamb, venison, hot chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes, and other stimulant drugs.
Cool foods are good for the human body on summer days, warmer days of spring and fall. These foods are geared towards stabilizing the negative effects of fire foods.
Some Cool foods are: apples, oranges, lemons, blueberries, pears, peppermint, strawberries, grapes, alfalfa sprouts, Brussel sprouts, dill, lettuce, mushroom, mint, parsley, snow peas, white corn, cantaloupe, cranberry, honeydew, lime, nectarine, red banana, starfruit, cabbage, salt, honey, sugar, vinegar.
Warm foods are ideal all year around and are more important in winter as well. These are foods that are cooked by way of simmering, stews, soups, wok, etc. Staple foods like grains, pasta, bread, and rice are also very ideal in all cultures and are considered warm foods. Teas are also considered warm as well.
Warm foods include- beef, chicken, fish, pork, eggs, duck, cheese, ham, rabbit, milk, wines, bread, rice, soups, stews, teas. black beans, adzuki beans, broccoli, carrots, kale, lentils, peas, potatoes, soybeans, pumpkin, squash, string beans, zucchini, ginger, garlic, onion, tomato, apricot, currants, blackberry, cherry, guava, papaya, plum, raisin, almond, date, peach, raspberry, basil, bay, chives, paprika, sage, thyme, white pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, artichoke, bell pepper, cous cous, oatmeal, small bok choi.
The Charts below share: Food| Thermal property| Flavor| Organ it influences and Medicinal action
The Chinese diet is a varied diet designed to help alleviate symptoms of illness often produced by the wrong foods. Acute and chronic conditions can be heighten by eating the wrong types of foods, and alleviated by eating the correct foods. The wrong foods for example can cause lung issues like asthma, phlegm, and chronic colds. PMS, cramps, infertility, and heavy or scanty periods are affected by wrong foods. High blood pressure and diabetes are affected by foods.
Food flavor categories:
Sweet: enters the Stomach and Spleen, helps to boost deficiency.
Pungent: enters the Lungs and large intestines, promote distribution and circulation.
Sour: enters the Liver and Gall bladder, helps to arrest the abnormal discharge of fluids.
Bitter: enters the heart and Small Intestines, it helps to clear heat and dry dampness.
Salty: enters the Kidney and Bladder, helps to dissipate accumulations and nourish blood.
Warm and hot energy foods, pungent and sweet will have a tendency to make the Qi energy rise upwards and float out, while the cooler and cold, sour, bitter and salty, will lower down and sink into the body.
Many of the foods in the grocery store are not even good for the body. The foods that are hot in nature really need to be removed since they cause inflammation. The alkaline and glycemic index diets are naturally already in the Chinese diet. Most vegetables are alkaline in nature so to get 6 cups of veggies, just eat 2 cups of veggies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Since the diet is Qi based, by correcting the Qi, the body can work towards homeostasis and weight management. A weak and skinny body will being to fill out to normal “original” weight and stomach becomes balanced, a over-weight person Qi will balance allowing them to make better food choices and naturally shed off the pounds towards “original” weight. That is entirely up the the individual to make the right choices and will to put the correct things in their body. Health is in your hands.
Try to eliminate wheat, corn, coffee, and quinoa from the diet since they are “fire” in nature. This excess heat burns off the positive blood and fluids and is just a fake energy in the beginning. They will leave you dry and inflamed in the end. Coffee has a 6 hour half-life, have it for breakfast if you must, but we suggest green tea as a healthier alternative to caffeine “fire”.
Reduce dairy as it can cause phlegm, reduce sugar as it causes a spleen imbalance. Sugar has a false sense of yin energy, then you crave more and it becomes a cycle.
Peanuts are acidic and inflammatory and cause phlegm.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Youtube:
Christina Kapothanasis, L. Ac., Dipl. O.M.
Journal of the Tao Experience Foundation: Wilson Pitts with Dr. Amy Tseng
Qi magazine issue 1, vol. 1.