According to traditional Chinese medicine, eating healthy is eating a balanced diet. Here we explain how foods are harmoniously divided and combined in TCM nutrition.
Eat a balanced diet: TCM nutrition
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees itself as a holistic teaching for healthy living. The focus is on establishing the balance between the two opposing forces, yin and yang. Only then can the body’s vital energy – Qi – flow freely and the body remains healthy. Yin represents cold and darkness, Yang heat and light. Depending on whether the person belongs to the yin or yang type, he must be nourished. Food is distributed accordingly, so people who catch colds easily, for example, should prefer a yang-stressed diet as a cold diet. For more information on the principle of yin and yang, see our article on macrobiotics.
Food classification according to the 5 elements
In addition, the MCT diet foods are assigned 5 elements, each of which must be represented in a meal:
- Tierra means sweet and includes rice, potatoes, carrots, eggs, beef, and butter, among others.
- Wood symbolizes acid and includes, for example, yogurt, wheat, tomatoes, vinegar, oranges, and chicken.
- Water represents the salty taste associated with duck, algae, legumes, salt, fish and olives.
- Fire means bitter, represented by rye, arugula, beetroot and others.
- Metal embodies heat and is found in mustard, radishes, venison, alcohol, and onions, for example.
Each group of elements is subdivided into hot, warm, neutral, refreshing and cold depending on the effect of the food.
Nutritional recommendations of traditional Chinese medicine
The TCM diet uses this modular system and is individually tailored to the person in question. This is intended to eliminate imbalances harmful to health. For example, if someone has high blood pressure, they are a yang type and need more yin food. The concept also includes some general recommendations. Meals should be taken three times a day in peace and prepared with fresh ingredients and as regional as possible; cooked dishes are preferable. Portions should be chosen in such a way that they satisfy hunger but do not overwhelm. It also helps lose weight. And finally, TCM Nutrition considers it a serious mistake to drink ice cold drinks: it weakens the stomach and the spleen.
The TCM concept contains many elements that coincide with mindful eating. However, critics are not tired of milk and milk products, as these are poorly tolerated in Asia. This can lead to calcium deficiency.