In Western diet, foods are evaluated for proteins, calories, carbohydrates, vitamins, and other nutritional contents. However in TCM diet, I find not only vitamins and minerals but also the energetic properties of food. The energies of foods refer to their capacity to generate sensations – either hot or cold – in my body. This does not refer to the state of food but its effect on my bodies. For example, tea has a cold energy. This means that when I drink hot tea, it generates cold energy and it is therefore considered a cold beverage. Shortly after I have drunk hot tea, the heat begins to face quickly and it begins to generate cold energy internally, allowing my body to cool off.
According to energetic temperature level, foods are divided into :
Hot foods increase Yang, speed up Qi, activate, warm, disperse, move upward an outward, warm my bowels and viscera, eliminate external and internal cold, and mobilize defense energy. But if I eat too much hot foods, they will injure Yin, and dry out my Body Fluids. Foods that are hot in thermal nature : alcohol, lamb, cinnamon, chili, curry, garlic, ginger, paprika, pepper.
Warm foods strengthen Yang and Qi, warm my body, bowels and viscera, and warm and strengthen my center burner. When I eat warm foods excessively, they will create Yang repletion. The example of warm foods are cocoa, coffee, red wine, butter, goat’s cheese, beef, chicken, eel, salmon, cherry, fennel, leek, peach, onion, anise, basil, rosemary, walnut.
Neutral foods build up my Qi and Body Fluids, stabilize and harmonize my body. Neutral foods can be used as treatment of Qi vacuity. Neutral foods are honey, cow’s milk cheese, carp, duck, chicken egg, goose, pork, carrot, cauliflower, grape, plum, potato, corn, lentil, millet, peas, rice, hazelnut.
Cold foods create cold, cool internal heat, and have a calming effect on my spirit. If I eat to much cold foods, they damage my Qi and Yang. Foods that are cold in thermal nature : water, salt, soy souce, shrimp, crayfish, asparagus, banana, orange, seaweed, tomato, watermelon, dandelion. Lettuce, star fruit, lotus root.
Cool foods supplement my Body Fluids and Blood, slow down Qi, and clear heat. Cool foods are black tea, fruit juices, peppermint tea, sour milk, soy milk, wheat beer, yogurt, rabbit, celery, cucumber, soy bean, sprouts, spinach, zucchini, barley, tofu, wheat, tarragon, common button mushroom, strawberry. Too much cool foods will give me similar result as cold foods.
Therapeutic goals are derived from the Yin Yang Principle. The Nei Jing said : “If something is cold, heat it. If something is hot, cool it.” Supplementing the opposite polarity restores original balance of my body.