According to TCM or traditional Chinese Medicine in Bellmore, we are surrounded by five fields of energy. They include the environmental elements of wood, water, metal, earth, and fire. Each element corresponds to certain body organs, such as the gall bladder, urinary bladder, stomach, intestines, lungs, spleen, and heart. These five distinct elements are related to the different times of the year: wood with spring, water with winter, metal with autumn, earth with late summer, and fire with summer.
The five elements depend on and interact with each other, which keep all of them in balance thus promoting harmony to our health and in our surroundings.
You can sustain balance in the body by eating foods affiliated with each of the elements. Foods related to the five elements include: fruits, vegetables, beans, tubers, and grains. Foods to avoid include overly-processed sugar, meat, deep-fried foods, chemical foods, beer, liquor, and wine.
Sample Daily Menu
Breakfast: Steel-cut oats added with blueberries and walnuts
Lunch: Grilled shrimp with black bean salad and corn
Snack: Popcorn (Air-popped)
Dessert: Slices of watermelon
Dinner: stir-fried tofu and broccoli with brown rice
To promote balance in the body, practitioners of TCM believe that people should base their diet on the seasons, and eat foods related to each of the elements.
This season is associated with the Wood element and with morning. Since spring is related to the gallbladder and liver organs, it is essential to eat foods that cleanse and strengthen these organs. Wood vegetables include leafy greens, parsley, sprouts, string beans, carrots, broccoli, and artichokes. Purification is the effect of wood on the body.
Fire is connected to the season of summer and to the noon (12 pm) hour. It also associated with the large intestine and the heart organs. Fire vegetables include tomatoes, scallions, dandelion, chives, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus. Fire produces circulation in the body.
Earth element is related to the late summer season and with the afternoon. Its associated organs are the pancreas and stomach. Earth vegetables include sweet potato, squash, spinach, parsnips, collards, and chard. The associated bodily function of earth is digestion.
Autumn is associated with the Metal element and with evening. The lungs are its active organs. Radishes, daikon, cucumber, celery, cauliflower, and cabbage are some of the Metal vegetables as well as tempeh, tofu, spirulina, and peppermint. Respiration is the related bodily function of autumn.
Winter is associated with Water and with night. Winter affects especially the bladder and the kidneys. Water vegetables include tamari, salt, miso, kale, sea vegetables, burdock, and beets. Winter’s related bodily function is the process of elimination.
When you know what bodily functions, seasons, and foods are related to each element, you can distinguish what is out of balance in your body and repair it. For instance, if you’re feeling constipated and it’s the middle of winter, since winter is related to the water element, drinking more water and increasing sea vegetables with water energy could help.
Also, the way you cook changes the energy of your food, according to the 5 Element Theory. So, barbecuing and grilling food gives fire energy to food, steaming gives earth energy to food, boiling gives water energy to food, deep frying and stir-frying give wood energy to food, and baking gives metal energy to food.
If you’re interested in trying this type of diet, try to eat foods from each element every day and keep a journal of the foods you eat and the months they were eaten.