A  Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine Clinic

TCM Dietary Therapy                        中医食疗
- A guide to THE ENERGETICS OF FOOD
Based on the Traditions of Chinese Medicine (TCM)

The Rules of Dietary Therapy

1. Careful harmonization of the 5 flavors

A. Clear, light, suitable food
Clear, light, suitable food describes a diet which is mainly vegetarian. It is primarily comprised of grains, beans,
vegetables, and fruits. Based on this injunction, one should eat only very small and infrequent quantities of meat,
greasy, fatty foods, and alcohol.

B. Guarding against food cravings and addictions
Only a diet comprised of all five flavors – sweet, bitter, pungent, sour and salty – can keep the bones straight, the
sinews supple, the Qi and blood flowing, the pores closed, and the functioning of the five major organs coordinated
and balanced harmoniously.
Conversely, persistent addiction to a certain flavor will lead to its accumulation within the body and, in the course of
time will result in loss of balance of the organs and bowels.
In addition, guarding against partialities in food also means balancing foods of both hot and cold natures (refers to its
temperature and that temperature’s effect on the body).
  • Too much hot food injures the original Qi and body fluids.
  • Too much cold injures the Spleen and Stomach Qi and damages the digestive ability.

C. Select food suitable to personal body type
This principle refers to the fact that each person has an inherent or constitutional predisposition.
  • Heat types: more moistening foods, such as fruits and vegetables, beans and eggs. Avoid hot foods such as
    beef and lamb.
  • Phlegm-damp types: tend to obese or endomorphic. More light, easily digestible food, such as cooked
    vegetables. Stay away or minimize foods which tend to generate more body fluids, such as greasy, fatty food,
    and diary products.
  • Yin deficiency types: should eat light food which nourish yin by being easy to digest and thus being easily
    transformed into Qi and blood. Such as fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, and bean products like tofu.
  • Yang deficiency: more pungent, warm foods, such as fish, beef, lamb, ginger and pepper. Avoid cold, raw or
    uncooked food, cold drinks, and most fruits.

2. Set time, set amount

A. Drink & eat according to time
It is said that having meals at fixed times can keep the body free from suffering.

B. Eat a suitable amount, avoid being starved or satiated.
Failure to eat when hungry or to drink when thirsty results in exhaustion of the source of Qi and blood. Excess food
injures the Spleen and Stomach impairing digestion.

3. Proper balance in cooking

For 3 reasons: 1) it ensures the preservation of essential nutrients. 2) it makes food more appetizing. 3) it makes food
more easily digestible and Metabolism and it also benefits and protects the Spleen and Stomach.

Cook foods enough to be digestible but not so much as to destroy their flavor or nutritive value.

4. Balance food in the 4 seasons

True health can only be achieved when the internal microcosm is in harmonious balance with the external macrocosm.
  • Spring: more sweet than sour food so as to nourish the spleen.
  • Summer: eat light, easily digestible food and shun greasy, tough, hard to digest food.
  • Fall: avoiding overdrinking cold drinks and eating too many raw, cold foods.
  • Winter: supplementing and highly nutritious food can and should be taken. Drinking a little wine or alcohol
    during the winter is beneficial.