Here in the U.S., we have special meals for certain holidays, perhaps soup on a rainy day and popsicles on a hot one, but our meals do not fundamentally change from season to season like they do in China. In China, as the seasons change, one must actively maintain a yin and yang balance. If the two become out of whack, it is believed that illness results. One way to achieve a balance and keep the inevitable winter flu at bay is through eating. Didn’t your momma ever tell you, “you are what you eat?!”
This Cultural China article explains the ideology of eating seasonly through Traditional Chinese Medicine:
According to TCM philosophies, if we imbibe seasonal foods that are similar in nature to the external environment, we remain in harmony with the environment, adapt better to changes in season and stay healthy. The basic applying principle is “nourishing yang in spring and summer time, and nourishing yin in autumn and winter time.”
Yīn (阴): dark, shade, feminine, moon, cold, passive
Yáng (阳): light, bright, sunny, masculine, hot, active
Although opposites, don’t be confused. The two forces are not opposing, but complementary because they rely on each other to exist and function.
Food can be divided into five different categories according to their energy: hot, warm, cool, cold, and neutral. So what should we eat during the winter? Mostly hot and warm yang foods, with a touch of neutral for good measure.
This article from The Epoch Times gives a good overview.
In winter, when it is cold, the key in eating well is to follow the course of nature (eat seasonally) and pay attention to cultivating “yang” energy in the body.
One should eat more food that is “warm” or “hot” in its energetic nature, especially the type of food that can strengthen the kidney energy. These types of food help improve the body’s ability to resist cold.
Although winter in the San Francisco Bay Area can hardly be classified as such, the body nonetheless goes through changes as the days shorten and the temperatures drop. Join Waigo in eating your share of hearty rich soups, protein-rich food (like duck and chicken), garlic, peppers, whole grains, and roasted nuts. Hopefully our raw foodist friends won’t be mad when we decline their dinner invitations as raw foods are to be avoided since they are yin and cool the body. If you’ve gotta have your raw fix, pears and apples are recommended as they are considered fairly neutral.
From all of us here at Waigo (with our mugs of hot-energy coffee raised) don’t forget to keep your yin and yang happy and healthy this holiday season. 干杯!