As the temperature outside drops during the winter season, it is no coincidence that aspects of our lives shift towards more activities that bring us indoors generating warmth with others to balance the chill that surrounds us outside. With winter comes frost, ice, and snow all of which are a slowed form of the element water. The qualities seen in nature during each season are strongly associated throughout Chinese Medical theory. Applying these concepts which emphasize living in harmony with the season can maintain balance in health as there is a strong connection between our internal environment and external environment. Establishing healthy habits based on Chinese Medical theory as they relate to the current season will yield optimal results. Here is some basic information to help you gain a better understanding of Chinese Medical theory as it applies to maintain your health during the winter season.
In Chinese Medicine, winter is associated with the element water. Winter is more yin than yang, meaning it can be described as having qualities that are inward, dark, cold, rest and slow movement. The organs associated with winter are the Kidneys and the Bladder. The sensory organ related to the winter is the ears.
To maintain health during the winter a balance between rest and activity is necessary to rejuvenate the Kidneys. To go inward and build upon the stillness within activities like Tai Chi and Qi Gong are excellent to relax. Diet is a beneficial method to supplement and nourish the body during the cold winter months. Cooking foods at a lower temperature for a longer duration gets the nutrients out of the ingredients and makes it more readily available for the body to absorb. Winter is the season for chili’s, stews, soups, broths, and teas. Bone broths and tonifying foods that build energy are most beneficial during the winter months. It is not of any surprise that the vegetables which are in season are perfect for making the above-mentioned dishes. Root vegetables, winter greens, carrots, cabbage, and mushrooms to name a few can be added to an animal stock of choice. Warming meats perfect for this season are lamb, beef and chicken. Legumes associated with the winter months and that tonify the kidneys are black beans, and kidney beans. Seeds and nuts that benefit health during the winter are black sesame seeds, walnuts, and chestnuts. There was a reason for roasting those chestnuts on that open fire to ward off that Jack Frost nipping at our noses after all!
Please join us for more information about eating right for the winter season at our upcoming event Chinese Dietary Therapy: Eat Right for the Winter Season on Saturday, January 19th at 12:00-1:00 pm. Food will be provided for tastings as well as recipes and more detailed dietary information. Call our office at 203-303-9833 to reserve your space. Seating is limited!
Dr. Sian James, DACM, L.Ac.
Resident Acupuncturist, SOPHIA Natural Health Center
Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing With Whole Foods. Berkley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 354-365.