Winter, is a time of colder, shorter days that teach us to conserve our energy. So naturally, when there is less reason to be outdoors, the body tends to want to stay inside where it is warmer. The body’s metabolic rate will be slower, which means that eating foods full of sugars can become detrimental over time. When the metabolic rate slows, the body naturally holds on to fat and we gain weight. Just as most animals hibernate throughout the colder winter months, so too should human beings take the information being given and use it accordingly.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is a time of preservation and building up strength for the spring. Winter is a time when the kidneys are highly active. They have functions that help the body preserve energy. Foods that are loaded with salt can actually burden the kidneys and cause them to work overtime. This can lead to kidney disease or kidney failure when done for many years.
Tonics are what should be primarily eaten during the winter months according to TCM. Most tonics include warming herbs, fatty foods and meats. The human body is designed to absorb these rich foods especially well at this time of year. By tuning into nature, humans can be guided toward the proper nutrients. Since fruits are not usually abundant during the winter months, it makes sense that we should not be eating large quantities of them. Foods such as salads and raw foods can deplete the immune system during the winter months because the gastrointestinal system will have to work overtime to metabolize the cold foods and warm the body. If a person has a dislike of cold weather, joint aches and pains, sore low back or catches cold frequently, then there is too much of an imbalance and that person may be consuming too many cold foods.
It is recommended to eat warming foods during the winter months. Foods that will strengthen the kidneys, blood and energy. Foods that would be best include root vegetables, dark leafy greens, black beans, oats, quinoa, pumpkin, kidney beans and walnuts. Fruits, like blueberries and blackberries, can be warmed by adding spices like cinnamon, so that they don’t tax the system too much. Dark berries are low in sugar and are also tonifying to the kidneys. Herbs such as ginseng, garlic, onion, ginger, parsley and basil all have warming properties too that can be used when cooking.
Soups and stews are particularly good to eat at this time of year. Those that utilize bone broth as a base can be very tonifying. These types of foods help warm the body’s core and keep us fully nourished. Cooking should be for longer periods over low heat using less water. This will infuse the food with heat and lasting nourishment.
TCM nutritional therapy is a very important component of the medical system. The food consumed can have profound effects on the body that affect our health and well-being. Along with paying close attention to the foods that are abundant during the seasons, it is also recommended that locally grown foods be utilized. This may help decrease the possibility of allergic reactions.
To find out more about how Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you, contact me. I would be honored to help guide you along your wellness journey.