Did you lose the battle of the bulge this holiday season? Don’t feel guilty and blame yourself. It’s far too easy to succumb to gingerbread cookies, candycane cakes, and other Christmas holiday party treats.
Now that you’ve indulged, however, you need to commit to making healthy changes.
If you’re thinking about going on a diet after Jan. 1, what should you do? Keto, intermittent fasting, Paleo or a combination of all 3? Well, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine the best diet for the start of 2023 is the one that’s been working the best for over 5,000 years.
The Best TCM Diet For Winter 2023
Many people just like being told exactly what to eat. If that’s you, then according to the ancient philosophy of 5 Element Theory, here’s exactly what you should fill your belly with at the start of the new year.
Winter is associated with the Kidney organ system. Is it a coincidence, then, that kidney beans and other beans that resemble the physical shape of the kidney organ are ideal to eat from a TCM perspective? In TCM theory, the Kidney organ system function in 3 primary ways:
- As in Western medicine, they regulate the body’s fluids
- Store the body’s life force energy (Jing)
- Encourage Yin/Yang balance
Thus as the saying goes, “beans, beans they’re good for your heart, the more you eat, the better your Kidney organ system will feel, so eat beans at every meal.” Okay, so the original version is a little different but it’s adapted with an ancient twist.
However, many people experience bloating after eating beans. This is because many commercial varieties of beans contain the hard outer shell. This shell contains proteins called lectins. Lectins are anti-nutrients. This means that they interfere with mineral absorption and are difficult to digest. But there is a way to better digest beans to minimize the lectin content: pre-soak them in water overnight before cooking.
Kidney-Nourishing Foods in TCM
In addition to loading up on beans, which other foods should you eat in winter according to TCM theory?
Try sipping on bone broth. You can even add one of ActiveHerb.com’s instant extract granules such as Shu Di Huang for a double boost of Kidney-nourishing properties. In addition, there are other foods that will be easy for your body to digest. Not only that, these foods will help nourish your overall Qi (energy) as well as help fortify the blood and encourage more warming, Yang energy to radiate through your body.
But salads and cold/raw food are definitely not ideal for winter time. That’s because they can lead to insufficient digestion or indigestion (Spleen Qi deficiency). However, one exception to the rule is dark, leafy greens. Enjoy these as much as possible for nourishing Kidney QI.
Other best TCM foods for winter 2023 include black sesame seeds, walnuts, chestnuts, beef, lamb, stews and warming spices such as ginger, garlic, cardamom and cloves.
As for the best veggies, go with baked root vegetables such as yams or sweet potatoes. You can also help nourish your body in winter by consuming plenty of easy-to-digest whole grains, nuts, and seeds, salty fish and sea vegetables like seaweed.
If you find that this time of year your skin feels like a reptile because of the dry, cold air, eat lots of soups and stews. They’re like moisturizer for your body—from the inside out.
How To Overcome Sugar Cravings In TCM
Once you’ve filled your belly three-quarters full with the foods listed above (without drinking cold water; opt for warm or green herbal tea instead), what should you do if you have a craving for something sweet?
In the late fall and into the winter season, one of the best desserts is baked pears sprinkled with cinnamon. Baked pears nourish and protect the lungs. This action is critical in the fall, when viruses thrive. Obviously, they also persist in winter so if you haven’t tried baked pears—or apples—yet, give them a try.
By keeping your consumption of added sugars to a minimum, you’ll support your Spleen Qi (digestion) in winter. And there’s no healthier way to support a sweet tooth than turning to Mother Nature’s candy: fruit. In particular, dark berries are in alignment with the best diet in TCM for winter.
Best TCM Diet for 2023: Conclusion
The concept of supporting the health of the environment and the body by eating locally and seasonally has gained traction in the West. In the Far East, it’s a 5000-year-old trend. If you’re looking for the best diet to start in 2023, turn to ancient weight management wisdom. And don’t forget to slow down this winter!
What are your favorite foods to eat in winter and what do you think is the best TCM diet for 2023? Leave a comment below.