Often, eating is done out of habit or necessity, sometimes without much thought as to what is being eaten as long as it is acceptable to the palate. However, when we consciously think about what we are eating and why, we can turn the act into a special or even sacred ritual used for healing and self-cultivation purposes.
Traditional Taoist healing practices, upon which Chinese medicine is based, includes Five Elements Nutrition, a treatment method that uses food as a powerful medicine. We can use our food in this way to treat various aspects of our energy body and cause profound physical reactions. If we have physical, emotional, or spiritual symptoms of discomfort, we can go through an Oriental medicine intake with a qualified practitioner. This will lead to an energetic diagnosis based on the Five Elements which include Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Depending on which element is most out of balance, our daily diet can be altered to include foods that will assist in our healing process, and reduce or eliminate foods that are detrimental to our symptoms.
Usually, part of the goal is to strengthen and harmonize our digestive system so that we can efficiently assimilate and use our food intake appropriately. When we achieve this goal a number of things happen: we start to naturally like and dislike certain foods that are either beneficial or harmful to us, we achieve a healthy body weight without dieting, we eliminate food allergies, our mood improves, and our digestion becomes strong and comfortable.
Sometimes Five Elements Nutrition includes the use of Chinese herbs as food, either cooked into a broth or eaten as an ingredient. This is a delicious and fun way to begin exploring the world of medicinal food!
The soups listed below include a few special recipes that are fairly common to the American taste, combined with cooking Chinese herbs as part of the ingredients. They are adapted from the wonderful book "Between Heaven & Earth" by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold. Watch for my workshops to learn about the herbs, see how easy they are to use, and taste the prepared foods.
Wei Qi Soup (immune system enhancing, builds Kidney Qi an Jing)
Harmonize with the Fall Season soup (strengthens the lungs)
Weight Management Soup (instead of fasting, try this for several days!)