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A Chinese Guide to Eating during the Winter

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“Food can be considered the medicinal herbs that we take three times a day. Being aware of what we eat can help to maintain internal balance and prevent disease on a daily basis”

I recently attended a seminar held at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, A Chinese Medicine Lifestyle Guide for the Winter Season.  It was all great information, so I thought I’d share some.  In Chinese Medicine Winter time is the best time to preserve your health, build up your immunity, get good rest and keep warm.  It only seems natural that our instincts drive us in this direction.  The days are at their shortest, therefore we can and want to spend more time in bed, we crave more meats/proteins and warm foods, and we bundle up because we have cold hands and feet.  This isn’t a coincidence, our habits change with the seasons and it is the most beneficial to us to “go with the flow”. 

Physiologically our bodies react to the change in the seasons.  Basically it’s a reaction to the duration of days vs. nights, our bodies adapt to the long nights and we naturally intend to preserve our health as we sleep more, stay inside, are less active and build up our immunity.  Essentially it is our bodies way of preparing ourselves for the coming Spring, so we are healthy and vibrant as the days become longer and we become more active.

In order to ensure a healthy body and attitude for the spring it only makes sense to eat the right foods, that both your body craves and your body will get the most out of! 

Here are a few foods that are great to add into your diet during the Winter:

Venison, Beef, Lamb, Goose, Duck, Shrimp, Sea Cucumber, Goat Milk, Eggs, Tremella, Shitaki mushroom, Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Chestnuts, Daikon (White Radish), Black Sesame etc.  These foods are all warming foods and are high in protein. 

In addition to your high protein meats, remember to eat lots of dark leafy greens as well, these will help with the breakdown of the protein and create a balanced diet.

Some other good foods, to promote the immune system and fight common winter ailments, such as the flu, colds, coughs and general mallaise include:

Ginger:  Good to make as a tea, it’s very warming

Steamed Pears:  Good to moisten the lungs, good for dry coughs

Lotus Root, Daikon Juice, Winter Melon Soup, Walnuts and Soy Milk are all also good for dry coughs.

Peppermint Tea:  To clear the airways and relieve sinus congestion

Onions with Mustard Greens as a soup to relieve congestion as well

Baked Organic Oranges:  Eat with the skin to boost the immune system

Please take care of yourself this Winter and don’t be afraid to take advantage of the long nights and comfort foods, though moderation is always key!

Here’s to a warm, nourishing winter and a healthy spring!

Sources:  Acupuncture.com,  Tsueyhwa Lai, DAOM, LAc.

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