In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the principle of eating with the seasons plays a vital role in maintaining overall health and well-being. Winter, with its cold and harsh weather, calls for specific dietary considerations to support the body’s needs during this time.
In TCM, winter is associated with the element of water and the yin energy, which influences the kidney and bladder meridians. These organs play a vital role in hormonal regulation and overall well-being. By incorporating specific foods and practices, one can promote hormone balance and optimise health during this time.
Warm and nourishing foods are highly recommended in TCM to support hormone health in winter.
- Nourishing Yin through liquid foods in winter can support hormone health by promoting deep nourishment and hydration, helping to balance Yin and Yang energies in the body and supporting hormonal equilibrium during the colder months. Warm broths, herbal teas, and nourishing soups and stews made from ingredients such as bone broth, seaweed, mushrooms, and root vegetables are commonly recommended to replenish Yin energy and support hormonal well-being in TCM during winter.
- Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips are abundant during this season and are known for their grounding and nourishing properties. They provide essential vitamins and minerals while helping to nourish the kidneys and support hormone production.
- Healthy fats are also emphasised for hormone balance. Foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and oily fish like salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and support hormone production and regulation. These fats also help nourish the yin energy, which is crucial for hormonal health.
- Incorporating warming spices and herbs into winter meals can have a positive impact on hormone balance. Ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric, for example, have anti-inflammatory properties and can enhance circulation, which is essential for hormone metabolism and balance.
- TCM also encourages the consumption of foods that specifically nourish the kidneys. Black beans, kidney beans, and adzuki beans are considered beneficial for kidney health and hormone regulation. These beans are high in fiber, protein, and minerals that support the body’s energy systems. Other foods that nourish the kidneys are mushrooms, eggplants, seaweed and gogi berries and dates.
Additionally, it is important to maintain a balanced lifestyle, including stress management and adequate sleep, to support hormone health. Winter is a time to slow down, stay warm and engage in gentle exercises such as yoga which can help maintain the flow of Qi throughout the body.
By incorporating these TCM principles into winter eating habits, individuals can nourish their bodies, support hormone health, and promote overall well-being.
Black Bean, Sweet Potato and Greens soup
- 1 cup black beans (soaked overnight and drained) or one tin black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 large sweet potato cubed
- 1/2 bunch kale/silver beet/spinach
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 4 cups organic or homemade vegetable broth, chicken broth or miso
- Flaked chilli to taste
- Toppings: chopped green onions, sesame seeds
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, and grated ginger. Sauté until fragrant and onions are translucent.
- Add the soaked black beans and sweet potato cubes to the pot. Stir well to combine with the onion mixture.
- Pour in the broth of choice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beans and sweet potatoes are tender.
- Stir in the greens and cook down for a few minutes
- Add tamari, sesame oil and add chilli flakes to taste
- Serve the warm dish in bowls and garnish with chopped spring onions and sesame seeds, if desired.