Everybody knows that food is what gives our bodies the energy we need to survive. But not everybody knows that certain foods should be consumed during specific times of the year.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that has been around for nearly 4,000 years. When this system came into being, people were much more in tune with the seasons and their environment. The foods they consumed were based on the seasons and when those foods were available. This system should be followed for people to remain healthy throughout the year, regardless of where they live.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is a time of reflection and rejuvenation. The body needs the extra hours of darkness to repair. The kidneys are the centre of energy in the Traditional Chinese Medicine system. Thus, they need to be nourished during the winter months. We recommend consuming warming foods that will boost the kidney's energy. We also need to eat foods that benefit the Shen (spirit) so that the winter months don't bring about depression.
Things like soups and stews are essential during the cold winter months. Energetically, warming foods such as anchovies, bay leaves, chestnuts, chicken, fennel, leeks, mussels, mutton, nutmeg, pine nuts, sweet potatoes and walnuts are all great to incorporate into the diet. Also, foods that boost kidney energy are just as important. Items like millet, sesame seeds, kidney beans, lamb, beef, goose, duck, eggs, grains, seeds and nuts are all excellent kidney tonics. Bone broth is another critical food to consume during winter, as it supports the bones and kidneys. It is recommended that the foods be cooked for more extended periods and at lower temperatures to retain as much energy as possible. It is also advisable to eat more food with bitter flavours while reducing salty flavours so that heart health is promoted and the workload of the kidneys is reduced. Bitter-flavoured foods include apricot, asparagus, celery, coffee, tea, grapefruit, lettuce, kale, vinegar and wine.
One of the most commonly used foods is something known as congee. Congee is a thick grain-based soup or porridge. Congee is used in a preventive fashion to promote good health and strong digestion. Congee can be made with a single grain, like brown rice, or a combination of grains, beans, vegetables and medicinal herbs. Incorporating this item into the daily diet will improve energy levels over time. Congee is prepared in a crock pot overnight, which fits perfectly with the abovementioned principles of slow cooking at lower temperatures. It is said that the longer the congee cooks, the more powerful it becomes.
Incorporating the foods listed above during the winter can be an excellent way to boost your energy throughout the season. And this will also help in the following seasons, as the body will be healthier and better prepared.