The Chinese diet is known for instructions to eat food with specific properties. Flavour and movement influence the food chosen in this diet. The energy of food according to the Chinese diet will produce sensations of hot or cold. There are five types of energy, also called natures; neutral, cool, cold, warm and hot. Keep in mind these energies are referring to the effect on the body, not the kind of food eaten. A good example to remember is when you drink a hot tea. Although the tea is hot to taste, it will produce cool energy in the body as its heat dissolves within the body and is therefore classified as a cool drink.
Cool foods include; apple, spinach and peppermint. Some cold foods include Soya sauce, salt and water chestnuts. In the middle of the spectrum, representing the balanced yin and yang; are neutral foods like corn, potato and cheese.
Warm foods include peaches, walnuts and goats milk, while the hot foods include chilli pepper and mustard seed.
It is helpful to know about the energies of food because specific energies will affect our health in different ways. When a person suffering with skin irritations sees an increase of symptoms when exposed to heat, it’s an indication this person should eat foods with a cold or cool energy to feel better.
There are five flavours of food according to the Chinese Medicine Diet. They are known as pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Each flavour affects two organs. Pungent flavours rule the body’s lungs and large intestine, sweet flavours watches over the stomach and spleen, sour controls the liver and gall bladder, bitter rules the heart and small intestine and the salty flavour rules the kidney and bladder.
Pungent foods will affect the lungs and large intestine by giving a boost of air circulation and an increase of appetite.
Sweet foods will affect the stomach and spleen by slowing down acute reactions and balancing the toxic effects of the other foods eaten while giving the body proper nourishment.
The Traditional Chinese diet follows the movement of their foods as certain types of movements will force food different directions within the body. The four specific directions are sinking, lowering, floating and lifting. Imagine arrows pointing in these directions throughout the body.
With a sinking movement, the direction of the food goes from the outside towards the inside allowing for bowel movements to slow down and provide relief to abdominals that are distended. Vinegar is a good example of a food that will provide such action.
With a lifting movement, food will move from the lower region to the upper region. These upward movements will stop diarrhea and hold the internal organs in place where they belong. This will prevent organs from sinking or prolapsing. Wine is a good example of a food that provides such properties.