Chinese food practices for a healthy conscious lifestyle and diet

Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines and many people around the world love it. You have all sorts of different dishes and meals, from northern to southern China and from western to eastern China. We all know the infamous Peking duck, steamed bao buns and the delicate noodle dishes. It is no surprise that food plays a big role in Chinese culture. But food is much more to the Chinese than just food, food has symbolic meanings and there is philosophy behind preparing and consuming food.

The balance of yin and yang in food

The philosophy behind Chinese food is deeply rooted in the concept of yin and yang. Yin and yang represent natural opposing forces that are interconnected and commentary, in order to have yin, you need to have yang. Yin and yang can be applied to almost everything in your life. In the context of food, yin refers to cooling and nourishing elements, while yang represents warming and energizing elements. The goal is to achieve a balance between these two forces in every meal, promoting harmony and well-being.

This balance can be achieved through the selection and combination of ingredients. Chinese cuisine emphasizes the use of a wide variety of ingredients, including vegetables, fruits, grains, meats, and spices, each with its own yin or yang properties. The cooking methods and techniques also play a role in balancing yin and yang, such as steaming, stir-frying, and boiling.

Overall, the philosophy behind Chinese food encourages a holistic approach to eating, considering not only the nutritional value but also the properties of the ingredients. It is believed that by achieving a harmonious balance of yin and yang in our diet, we can maintain good health and vitality. For example, when the weather is cold, your body is cold and so you need to drink or eat something warm. When assembling your meal there should be a balance in color, flavor and texture. When there is meat, you should accompany it by vegetables with a contrasting color such as green onions.

Chinese food as medicine

Besides the use of yin and yang during cooking and eating, the Chinese also see food as medicine for your body. Medicine in the western world has the connotation of treating an illness or disease while in China medicine has the emphasis on maintaining your health. You do not need to be sick to take medicine. Rather than it being a remedy for your illness, it is supposed to prevent you from being ill. This is quite a different mindset compared to the western world, where its normal to treat something after it has happened.

So what does that mean? Food and medicine in Chinese culture overlap. Ginger is food and is used to cook in a lot of dishes, but it also has properties such as anti-inflammatory and containing antioxidants which has many benefits for the body.

The belief that food is medicine dates back to ancient China. Hunters discovered that some herbs and plants has properties to ease their illness or made them feel better. Over time, traditional Chinese medicine became a staple in a Chinese household. When the harsh winter would arrive, the Chinese would prepare soups with vegetables, herbs and meat to obtain needed nutrients to boost their immune system and prevent getting the flu. Soups are great way to steep the different ingredients and get the most out of your ingredients.

Eating seasonal foods

Seasonal ingredients are of great importance in Chinese cooking. Not only is it very convenient to eat the seasonal vegetables and fruits, it is believed to align the body with nature and provide the necessary nutrients for each time of the year. Seasonal eating fosters awareness about the origin and freshness of ingredients. It also encourages individuals to appreciate the natural cycles of food production and consumption. The 4 different seasons all have their own meaning and focus:

– Spring is all about rejuvenation and its often associated with eating young greens and foods that detoxify the body after the heavy winter diet.
– Autumn is all about harvest and it is the time to enjoy the fruits of the labor. People will eat more pumpkins, sweet potatoes and nuts during this season.
– Winter is all about keeping your body warm with warm heavy soups and teas to boost your immune system against the harsh cold.
– Summer is all about hydration, people will drink and eat different fruits like watermelon, strawberries and other juicy vegetables or fruits.

It is important to remember that food is a necessity to provide your body with the right nutrients. Nowadays with fast foods and new food trends, it is hard to resist the overly processed food. With the Chinese philosophy for food in mind, being conscious about what you eat and what effects it has on your body.