In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diet is very important to staying healthy and in balance. One of the main ways to accomplish this is by eating according to the seasons. The older texts talk of “eating local food in its time”. This is important because in upstate NY during January or February, there is little that is in season. So, what to do?

Eating healthy food is an important step to staying healthy in the Winter. Winter is part of the Water Element in the 5 Element Theory. The colors are blue-black, the energy is Yin, it’s cold and damp, the emotions are fear and depression (think SAD). This is a time for reflection and looking inward; a time to be active but also be aware of the cold and staying warm.

Since we are in the cold and snowy part of our year, I’d like to talk about foods that are best eaten at this time. As mentioned before, nothing is really in season now but if we look back at our autumn fruits and vegetables, then we have something to work with. Many of our winter squashes, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and turnips not only keep well for winter use, but can help boost the immune system. Apples and pears also boost immunity.

Here are some guidelines for eating foods that may not be in season but are available (and tasty) due to our global economy.

# 1

Foods for Winter should be warming and nourishing:

Warming foods include:

– broccoli                                                               – pumpkins

– kale                                                                       – walnuts (toasted is best)

– onions, leeks, scallions                                     – cranberries

– sweet potatoes and yams                                  – garlic

– winter squashes                                                  – quinoa

– parsnips and turnips                                          – carrots

– beef, chicken, lamb                                             – oats

– legumes such as peas, lentils, beans especially black beans and Navy beans



Warming spices include:

– cloves

– fennel

– black pepper

– ginger

– cinnamon

– allspice

– cardamom

– Apple or Pumpkin pie spice mixes

– Good quality essential oils that can be used as dietary supplements (ex: Young Living)


Warming Cooking Techniques:

– Winter cooking techniques should be longer and slower such as braising, slow cooking, baking, roasting, steaming

– Soups and Stews are good


Tips to Make Cold Food Warm:

– Lettuces, tofu, ice cream, fruits such as grapes, strawberries, mangos, bananas are available

but tend to be cold; they can be eaten in small quantities by healthy people but eating too

much will cause digestive problems such as gas and bloating


– Salads: add roasted or steamed vegetables, toasted nuts, cooked meat or warming spices

– Beverages: add cinnamon, nutmeg or a favorite warming spice

– Smoothies: steam or microwave the fruit for 1 minute to “cook” it and make more digestible


If you have found this information useful and interesting…great!

 To find out more about eating healthy and how TCM can help, please contact me.


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