What is a TCM tool that anyone can apply for better health?
There are many guidelines for healthy living within the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. One of my personal favorites is eating right for the season and eating right for our body type.
In TCM each food has an energetic property that affects the body as a whole and a particular organ system. It is important to consider eating foods that support the season and our bodies! Some foods are warming (such as peppers, spicy foods) are better digested when it is cool outside. Other foods that are cooling (such as raw vegetables, ice water) are better assimilated when it is warm outside. Inherently, we find ourselves attracted to foods that support the season. In the winter we like to eat more warming foods such as soup, stews, sautés, etc.
In the summer, we are more likely cooling foods such as salads and vegetables. There are plenty of bright colored fruits and vegetables to enjoy!
In addition, TCM advocates eating foods that support our own body type and pattern in addition to the season we are in. If we tend to have symptoms of cold in our body, we should minimize foods that are cooling – even in the summer months.
These include summer favorites such as iced drinks and ice cream.
In the Midwest, humidity is present throughout the summer and, as a result,, dampness is a prevalent pattern in our bodies. Many people with “dampness” may have sinus issues or allergies. Avoiding foods that cause dampness, such as dairy products, sugar and sweets, mushrooms, greasy and deep fried foods, will most likely, reduce the symptoms associated with these conditions.
In addition to temperatures, foods also have flavors. Flavors such as pungent and sweet tend to be warming. Sour, bitter and salty foods tend to be cooling.
Healing with Whole Foods, by Paul Pitchford is a great resource for learning more about TCM and foods. In his book, he lists the following flavors and samples of foods:
Pungent: mint, cayenne, scallion, garlic and chamomile
Salty: salt, seaweed, soy sauce, miso and pickles
Sour: Lemon, lime, sauerkraut, vinegar, olive, tangerine
Bitter: dandelion root, alfalfa, rye, romaine lettuce
Sweet: most grains, legumes, fruits such as apples, cherries, grapes, peaches and pears.