Chinese Dietary Recommendations


In order to get the most out of acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine, it is very important to support your treatment with the proper diet and lifestyle. In Chinese medicine, there is the saying, “Seven parts nursing, three parts treatment.” Nursing here means proper diet and lifestyle modifications.


According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), every food has both a nature and flavors. A food’s nature is its effect on the temperature of the body. Thus a food can be either hot, warm, neutral, cool, or old. Since Chinese medicine works on the basis of restoring balance to the body, if one suffers from a hot disease, they should avoid hot foods and eat more cool and cold foods, and vice versa.


Likewise, each food has one or more of the five or six flavors. These are sour, bitter, sweet, spicy (acrid, pungent), salty, or bland tastes. Each flavor is associated with one of the main organs and leads the effects of that food to that organ. For instance, sour is the flavor associated with the liver. It leads the effects of a sour food to the liver. In excess, the sour flavor can damage the liver. In addition, each flavor also has a general effect on the body’s metabolism. Sour astringes, spicy causes upward and outward movement, salty leads downward and softens, bitter clears heat and also astringes, sweet supplements and also moistens, and bland tasting foods tend to cause urination and seep water.


Therefore, if a person is suffering from lung dryness, they might want to eat pears which are sweet and especially help generate fluids. However, if a person suffers from evil dampness and phlegm, they should avoid pears. This means that whether a food is good or bad for an individual person is entirely dependent upon that person’s TCM pattern diagnosis and the nature and flavor of that food


Middle Burner/Digestive Metabolism in Chinese Medicine


What is middle burner?


The middle burner in Chinese Medicine is the heart of the digestive system. A vivid image of the middle burner is a wood-burning stove that heats a house. Digestion is the stove, and food is the fuel. The quality of the fuel determines the efficiency of the stove and therefore the warmth of the house, i.e. the health and energy of the body.


Is there a Western equivalent?


The equivalent to an efficient middle-burner in Western medicine is an effective metabolism. Good metabolism will “burn” the food cleanly, utilizing calories, burning fat, and assimilating vitamins and nutrients, giving the body energy for living. If your metabolism is appropriate for your activities and food intake, you will natural maintain your optimal weight.


What benefits the digestive fire?


When you wake up in the morning the fire in your stove has reduced to embers. The fire must be stoked to carry out its digestive function.


Breakfast: To build a strong fire, the day begins with breakfast, which acts as kindling. In Chinese medicine, hot, whole grain cereal, “congee,” is an ideal meal to gently start your digestive metabolism for clean, efficient, warm burning.


Lunch: The digestive fire is strongest at lunchtime. Lunch should therefore be the biggest meal of the day, with the most variety. It should contain concentrated protein such as animal products, legumes, nuts, sees.


Dinner: The last meal, should ideally be the smallest. It’s best if the meal is eaten before 7 pm and that the meal is cooked, such as steamed vegetables and a grain.


What injures the middle burner?


A large heavy breakfast would be like throwing a big oak log on a struggling, flickering flame; it might be snuffed. Cold cereal and milk would be like throwing wet, soggy leaves on a tender little fire. Fried eggs and hashbrowns would be like green wood; it burns poorly and produces thick, noxious smoke. Not eating breakfast would certainly put the fire out for the day. Ice-cold rinks and foods like ice cream also destroy the digestive fire.


In Summery


If you tend to your middle burner as if you were tending a fire you will be able to achieve and maintain your health and ideal body weight.

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