Chinese Medicine Foods to Eat

Quick List

Below you will find a quick list of foods to eat and foods to avoid, based on the Chinese Medicine diet.  After the “quick list” you will find more information explaining why certain foods are recommended and why others are to be avoided.  Alternative food choices and food substitutes are recommended and the importance of eating organic, non-GMO foods (genetically modified foods) and non-microwavable food is discussed.

Foods To Eat

shutterstock_150247460-sizedVegetables

    • All types in large quantity. Try for half your plate in veggies
    • Limit nightshades such as eggplant, tomato, potato, peppers  as they are inflammatory

Starches

    • Rice (white or brown whichever digests better for you) Rice Pasta (Pasta Joy)
    • Rice Cakes (Lundberg Organic are good) Rice Crackers (Brown Rice Snaps)
    • Quinoa, Millet (Ancient Grains Quinoa Pasta)
    • Yams, Sweet Potato
    • Winter Squash

Acceptable Breads: Rice bread is best but some will prefer wheat bread. Sprouted wheat bread is preferred over bread made from wheat flour. (Alvarado Street Bakery brand is good) Choose just wheat over the multi-grain products. Multi-grain can exacerbate food allergies. Rice Tortillas for wraps are best but sprouted wheat wraps are acceptable for wrapping leftovers or making burritos.

Animal Protein

Free Range, Grass Fed, No Antibiotics/Hormones

    • Eggs
    • Beef, Pork, Chicken
    • Wild Caught Fish (a COLD food, good for warmer months)
    • Lamb (a HOT food for cooler months)

Portions are palm-sized and eaten 3-4 times per week.

Vegetable Protein

    • Beans – fresh or canned
    • Legumes such as Lentils, Split Peas
    • Any type of bean that digests well for you is fine. Smaller beans are easiest to digest. Seaweed makes beans more digestible. Kelp capsules can be taken with them if you don’t like to eat seaweeds or you can opt for digestive enzymes.

Portions are 1/2 to 1 cup and can be eaten more freely as they absorb cholesterol and toxins, are high in fiber, and protein and nutrient rich I do not recommend soy unless it is the whole bean and they digest well for you. Many people rely on processed soy products for their protein. The processing creates imbalance. Protein powders made from whey or rice are a better choice if you need to supplement protein. Also, many people are allergic to soy. Soy is often genetically modified, increases estrogen in the body, and is difficult to digest in general. Fermented soy is a good choice as the fermentation process pre-digests the soy making it easier on your body. Tofu is fine if you can digest it but is a COLD food so limit your intake to the warmer months and avoid tofu in the winter. The Chinese do not recommend total vegetarianism. It is their belief that animal protein, included 3-4 times per week, will keep the blood well nourished. In Chinese medicine, your blood is the basis of energy production. When it is depleted, fatigue, sleep problems, infertility, and degenerative joint pain are common issues that can develop.

Dairy

A very building, mucus forming food, dairy is a major culprit in allergies and asthma. It not only clogs the airways with phlegm but also blocks the channels that we use in acupuncture to balance your energy. If it clogs subtle energy channels, imagine what it is doing to the rest of your body! Cow’s milk is meant to grow a baby calf into a bigger version of itself, a cow. Once it is big enough, it naturally stops nursing from its mother. Dairy is the lactation product of a different species. It seems unnatural for humans to ‘nurse’ cross species. As adults, we would think it quite abnormal to drink breast milk past the time we are babies so why should we drink the milk of a lactating animal? Dairy food is so building and nourishing that the only people who would really benefit from it are those who are malnourished or emaciated. If you are a full-grown, well fed adult, dairy further builds you resulting in accumulation (read mucus and excess fat). If you do choose to have dairy, please choose RAW dairy products as cooked dairy loses valuable elements that make it digestible. If you think about it, our ancestors consumed their milk products raw for thousands of years. Pasteurization wasn’t discovered until 1864. If raw dairy was so dangerous, it would have killed our ancestors and none of us would be here today! Animals that are well cared for produce healthy milk that is safe to consume raw. (Raw milk and cheeses are available in our area at Kimberton Whole Foods in Downingtown from a reputable biodynamic local farm). Yogurt has been touted as a health food for its pro-biotic benefits. You can get pro-biotics in pill form instead. Dr. Ohhira Probiotic 12 Plus brand is a well researched product, available at Vitamin Shoppe.

Where Will I Get My Calcium?

Calcium is abundant in vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. One cup of broccoli has more than 50% of the calcium contained in one cup of milk. A six ounce serving of salmon or sardines is equivalent to the calcium content of one cup of milk One cup of cooked collard greens or spinach are also equal to the calcium in a cup of milk. If you are eating half your plate in vegetables and including leafy greens in your vegetable choices, you will ingest all the calcium you require. Better yet, the calcium in vegetables is more easily absorbed and occurs in proper ratios to other minerals that are also important for bone health. It is important to get enough vitamin D to help you absorb more calcium. Sun exposure in warm weather is the healthiest way to produce vitamin D. Ten to twenty minutes a few times a week is all you need. Rich food sources of vitamin D include eggs and fattier fish like salmon.

Mild Substitues

    • Rice Milk (Good Karma Brand Whole Grain has the least sugar and best taste).
    • Hemp Milk
    • Almond Milk (Tree of Life Brand)
    • Soy Milk – NOT RECOMMENDED – see Beans above

Fruits – Seasonal

    • Apples and Pears in the fall
    • Berries in the summer

Fats

Limited consumption – fats are clogging.

    • Raw Almonds, Cashews, Pistachios, Sunflower seeds, etc.
    • Raw Almond Butter (Woodstock Farms – this is the only non organic food I eat due to the extreme cost of organic almond butter $27.00 per jar vs. $7.00 for the non organic)
    • Raw Cashew Butter
    • Raw Sunflower Butter
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for cooking
    • Butter (small quantities)

Beverages

    • Herbal Tea, Green Tea, Black Tea
    • Water with Lemon or Lime – room temperature

Soup/Stew

All types of vegetables, whole grains, meat or beans, and stock. (Avoid milk based soups)

Foods To Include For Seasonal Eating

Eating according to the seasons will help balance your body. A balanced body processes foods efficiently and does not create disease. Winter – soups, stews, baked yams, winter squash, well cooked whole grains, firmer, thicker vegetables, larger beans, more chicken (very warming), beef, lamb, very little fish (cooling). No raw or cold food! Spring – spring greens, sprouts, more lightly cooked veggies, mung beans, lighter whole grains, beef, begin adding fish (cooling). Less nuts this time of year. Summer – small amounts of raw, lighter veggies, short cooking times, very light whole grains, smaller, easier to digest beans, more fish, less read meats, even less chicken (very warming). Berries in season. Avoid greasy, overly spicy this time of year. Fall – less raw, more cooked veggies, sturdier grains, less fish, more read meats, apples and pears in season. Avoid drying, pungent flavors like ginger and garlic.

Choose Good Quality Over Cost

Quality is a top priority when choosing whole foods to include in your balanced diet. You will pay more money for better quality. However, you will be eating more whole fresh foods which are cheaper overall than processed, frozen, conveniently packaged foods. All foods in your shopping cart should be fresh, organic, non-genetically modified, and free of hormones and antibiotics. Cooking should be done with natural heat and never in a microwave. The reasons are discussed below.

Why Organic?

Organic foods are grown in good quality soil resulting in nutrient dense food with abundant life force. Commercially grown produce is grown by mega-corporations in nutrient poor soil that must be chemically fertilized, sprayed with pesticides, and picked unripe to prolong shelf life. Because it is picked before it is ripe, commercial produce is often gassed before sale to facilitate ripeness. Pesticides found on commercial produce kill bugs by interfering with the bug’s nervous system. By disrupting communication between the bug’s nerves and muscles, the bug becomes paralyzed and dies. Pesticides can accumulate in our fat cells over time and have been associated with several neurological diseases in humans, including Parkinson’s disease. They are implicated in certain cancers, including cancer of the prostate. It is estimated that the EPA allows 71 known carcinogenic pesticides to be sprayed on our food crops. Additionally, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides found in commercial foods create more free circulating estrogen in your body. This excess estrogen is called ‘estrogen dominance’ and is associated with reproductive cancers and excess female characteristics in men. Commercial produce grown in depleted soil is created to look good but often lacks taste due to its poor nutrient density. Organic foods grown in rich soil usually appear smaller but are nutrient dense so you get more nourishment for your money. Eating nutrient dense food provides you with high quality nutrition, potentially eliminating food cravings because your body’s vitamin and mineral requirements are being met.

Hormone & Antibiotic Free – Healthy Animal Protein

Grass fed beef is naturally raised without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. It is higher in good fats such as omega 3’s with less of the harmful omega 6 type fats. Wild caught salmon and other types of fish are caught in the ocean rather than raised in crowded conditions and fed unnatural feed. Free range eggs are laid by chickens that have room to roam rather than penned in cramped, artificially lit, airless cubicles. The resulting food products of animals ra
ised in humane, natural environments are superior in nutrition to their commercially raised counterparts.

Why Non-Genetically Modified/Hormone Treated?

Genetic modification is used to create bigger, more pest resistant produce. Hormones are routinely given to factory farmed animals to force them to grow quickly. This type of tinkering with Mother Nature is not without its risks. Scientists have raised questions about the safety of GMO foods. Countries outside of the United States have labeling laws that require disclosure when food has been genetically modified. Here in America, the FDA has decided that we don’t need to know if our food is natural or man-made. The only way you know if you are eating non-GMO food is if the label states that it is non-GMO. You can read more at truefoodnow.org. The dairy industry gives a hormone to cows called rBST (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) in order to increase their milk production. Dairy cows given this hormone suffer serious side effects including greatly shortened life spans. If you are still using dairy, look for the type free of rBST. Raw dairy is never treated with this hormone and is the only type I can recommend for those who choose to include dairy in their diets. Raw dairy digests more easily than pasteurized as the enzymes for digesting its protein remain intact.

No Microwave?

Plant-Microwave-Day-1Cooking food with natural heat is how we evolved as a species. The modern convenience of microwaving food has resulted in the creation of highly processed foods in order to satisfy the demand of hectic, fast paced lives. Microwaves have become so ingrained in our society that some people have forgotten how to cook a meal from scratch. Unplug the microwave and dig out some of those pots and pans that are gathering dust under the kitchen cabinet. Heating food on the stove is faster than you think. I wondered at the effects of microwaving food while writing this article and stumbled across the following pictures comparing two plants over a nine day period. One was watered with boiled tap water and the other was watered with microwaved water. See for yourself and decide if you still want to use the microwave.

Cost

Many people complain about the cost of eating organic produce, free range eggs and poultry, and grass fed beef. Since you will be purchasing whole foods rather than fast food, pre-packaged food, or frozen food, you may actually spend less since these foods tend to be less expensive. One way to defer the cost is to ditch the vitamin supplements and choose organic whole foods instead. You will get all the vitamins and minerals you need from whole foods rather than from synthesized versions of nutrients. You could also forego dinner at restaurants and transfer the cost of an expensive dining experience to the healthy food you want to eat every day. Save money on other things but please spend money on quality food. Your health is worth every penny.

Foods To Avoid

  • Flour products of all kinds, including breads (damp producing)
  • Dairy (yogurt, cheese, milk)
  • Sugar (even fruits should be limited due to their high sugar content)
  • Tropical Fruits (unless you live in a tropical place – lucky you!)
  • Processed Food
  • Frozen food
  • Spicy hot food
  • Greasy food