In the Nei Jing Classic of Internal
Medicine, compiled over 2000 years ago, may be the first
known Chinese writings of the dynamic relationship between
health and the energies of foods, or Chinese dietary
The traditional medicines of the human world are intricately
connected with and are fundamentally part of nature.
The care with which we nourish our own health is reflected
in that which we give to our environment, to others,
our earth and planet -- an expanding spiral.
As we explore the relationships
between food and health, let's acknowledge the nourishment
that we have already manifested and presently experience
in our lives. Let's remember, too, that the appreciation
and joy with which we eat and nourish post-natal Qi
are major factors in determining the quality of digestion
and transformation of our food into Blood, empowerment
We are studying traditional
theories, brought to light and expanded upon from personal
and clinical experiences and intuitive practice. There
will be special exploration of medicinal plant and food
remedies for tonifying Heart, Lung and Spleen Qi and
We are looking at the dynamic relationship between food
energetics and Classical Chinese Medicine thought, that
Jing-Essence, Qi-Energy and Shen-Spirit are integrated
and operate together dynamically as a whole.
Through our personal and working
experiences we see that we are rarely dealing with pure
textbook patterns of imbalance that fit into one neat
package. Therefore our filters need to be grounded,
yet broad enough in scope to be applied effectively
for ourselves and others.
When selecting and preparing our foods there are individual
needs to be considered: Our base constitution; our present
physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health/issues;
the current season and the upcoming season; the Qi energy
we need for our daily work and activities; our present
dietary practice; our social environment; personal desires;
what we wish to accomplish from changing or transitioning
our eating habits and lifestyle. Important too is being
practical with making changes that we can actually apply
realistically in our day-to-day lives.
Location and Season
Chinese-Asian and Macrobiotic dietary philosophies suggest
that we embrace, as much as is possible, native foods
that are organic and locally grown and those in season
or those foods that are produced in areas with climates
similar to our own.
When we over consume food imported from very different
climates or regions, we may begin to lose adaptability
to the immediate surroundings. This is especially true
in cases where tropical or semitropical foods are over
consumed in temperate or cold climates.
The appearance, development and changes in the pattern
of many illnesses may show up seasonally, such as Wind
invasions in spring, sun and heat stroke in summer,
Damp- and Phlegm-related symptoms in late summer, Dryness-related
symptoms in autumn and Cold syndromes in winter.
As the seasons change and transform, the balance of
Yin and Yang will be strengthened by the following fundamental
principles. In spring and summer, nourish Yang along
with cool Yin. In autumn and winter, nourish Yin along
with Yang warmth and protection.
This all depends on the season and foods eaten. For
example Yang Qi tends to flow outwards to the body's
surface in spring and summer while internal Yang Qi
may become depleted, thus requiring replenishment in
the warm weather.
In the colder and dryer climates of fall and winter
it is important to keep warmer and prevent Dryness as
we strengthen the interior-Yin. We can use the powers
of food-energetics for nourishing Yang and warmth, building
Yin, nourishing Dryness, dispelling mucus and Phlegm,
and building Qi, Blood and Body Fluids for the present
and coming seasons.
Also, health imbalances can result from the over-consumption
of heavy animal food by those in a warmer or temperate
climate, since this quality of food is more suited to
the colder regions.
In colder seasons we would apply longer cooking times
and more salt; in warmer weather, we would use lighter
cooking methods and less salt. We would cook food lightly
and serve it warm to make digestion easier. Steaming,
poaching and blanching-boiling help alter the nature
of the food for more Yin-cooling; deep frying, stir
frying and roasting help alter the nature of the food
for more Yang-heating and body insulation.
Until modern times, unrefined, naturally produced whole
cereal grains; locally grown seasonal vegetables and
some animal foods comprised humanity's primary diet
throughout the world.
We should try to base our diet on such foods as grains,
beans, sea and land vegetables and other staples which
are naturally available and storable.
Taste and Variety
Mastering food selection in today's fast-paced world
is a challenge. We need therefore to keep balance in
mind. This is achieved by eating in moderation and being
aware of taste and variety. Taste is very important
because the primary taste sends nutrition via the acupuncture-acupressure
meridians to the corresponding organ.
If we eat a balanced meal with many tastes, we can feel
satisfied and use this energy for health, productivity
and enjoying our lives.
Here is a look at tastes and some nourishing foods
and cooking styles:
nourishes Spleen and Stomach-grains, millet,
squashes, onions, sweet fruits, bananas, blueberries,
oranges, figs, dates, honey, molasses, barley malt,
etc. Preparation: steaming, nishimi [A macrobiotic style
of cooking done over a low heat for a long time. Veggies
are usually cut large.], boiling.
nourishes Liver and Gallbladder-tomatoes,
barley, vinegar, chicken, turkey, green apples, lemons,
grapefruit, etc. Preparation: pickling, steaming, pressing.
nourishes Lung and Large Intestines-onions, garlic,
ginger, daikon, peppers, cayenne etc. Cooking methods
include kinpira [A type of macrobiotic preparation,
where you sauté first and then add water to boil
- similar to braising.], pressure cooking.
nourishes Heart and Small Intestine-kale, lettuce,
dandelion, broccoli, arugula, endive, collard greens,
etc. Preparation: raw, pressed, stir fry, blanch.
nourishes the Kidneys and Bladder-tofu, fish,
miso, eggs, burdock root, sea vegetables (wakame, arame,
hiziki, kombu, kelp) etc. Preparation: stewing, frying,
nabe [ceramic pot cooking, prepared at the table].
Color and Signature
The Color of a food plays a role in food energies, as
does the doctrine of signatures, which will be discussed
at my seminar. For example-a bitter green like kale
will nourish the Heart because of its bitter taste;
will nourish the Liver because of its green color, and
the Kidney, especially the bones, because of its rich
Red foods like apples and red peppers nourish the Heart
and Small Intestine. The apple also nourishes the Spleen
because of its sweet taste and the Kidneys when it is
baked and lightly salted.
White foods like white onions, tofu and radishes nourish
the Lungs and Large Intestine, while the radish nourishes
the Liver because of its sharp taste. It can assist
in moving stagnant Qi of the liver.
As we continue our journey of study, exploration and
application of food healing may we go forward with health,
vitality and wonderful eating. I look forward to continuing
writing, teaching and sharing with your audiences.
Krieger, L.Ac., MS, Diplomate of the NCCAOM in Acupuncture,
Oriental Medicine and Shiatsu-Asian Bodywork Therapy,
MEA in Health and Nutritional Counseling and Teaching.
Founding Member and Certified Senior Shiatsu Instructor
of the AOBTA. Susan has been treating and guiding thousands
of people throughout her 30+ years in practice. She
is an internationally recognized practitioner, teacher
and counselor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Contemporary
Macrobiotics, Asian Healing Arts, The Energetics of
Foods, Medicinal Remedies, Whole Health Nutrition, Women's
Health, Qi-Gong Yoga, Ki-Shiatsu-Acupressure, and Meridian-Self
Shiatsu of over 33 years. and teaches in the US and
Canada and Europe.
She produced The Ki-Shiatsu Instructional DVD and lectures
for the UN, universities, acupuncture, cooking and bodywork
schools, hospitals, women's organizations, corporations
and health and healing centers. Susan has an active
private practice in New York City.
For queries and to invite Susan to present for your
events she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone- NYC 212.-242-4217 www.susankriegerhealth.com
Posted March 2008
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