Diet in Chinese Medicine


A good nutritious diet is high in fiber, minerals and vitamins, moderate in unsaturated fat and low in saturated fat. People who eat these diets live longer and are less prone to cancer and heart disease. According to Healing with Whole Foods (Pitchford) it should contain the following proportions:

35-60% Grains such as whole grains and cereals

20-25% Vegetables starchy and non starchy, seaweeds, microalgi

5-15% Legumes: including beans, peas and lentils

5-15% Fruits, nuts and seeds

0-10% Animal Products: meat, dairy, eggs and fish


There is a saying "Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince, and Dine like a Pauper..." and another saying "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." This makes sense in terms of Chinese Medicine. The digestive system is strongest between 7 and 9am and between 7 and 9pm. So breakfast is the best time to eat a hearty meal and we should be eating sparingly in the evening. In the West this advice is not always followed. Many people skip breakfast and eat a sandwich in front of their computer. 

Fiber and protein slow the transfer of sugar into the blood and should definitely be included at breakfast time. Oats are a good food for a slow release of energy throughout the day. The setting for meals is just as important as the food itself. "When eating just eat" is a good saying. Your body's energies should be concentrated on digesting your food. Rather than rushing your breakfast or arguing with your family take the time to chew your food so that it is digested properly and avoid distractions like mobile phones and TV when you are eating.


 Often we must eat lunch at work. Take this time to eat and socialize rather than hunching over your computer, laptop or mobile phone. A warm meal works wonders in Autumn and Winter. If your work offers warm meals you should take advantage of them. In summer months a salad makes more sense.


     The evening meal should be more simple. There is little point preparing a full meal if your body does not have the energy to digest one.  Soup fits the bill nicely. After 9pm we should avoid eating. If we must snack then fruit is a good choice as it is easy to digest. We should avoid caffeine or alcohol if we wish to have a good nights sleep.


Hicks, Hicks and Mole, 2004, Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture, Churchill Livingstone