Winter Shi Liao (Food Therapy)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the approach to food therapy is based on the principles of yin and yang energy to support the body’s overall balance.

During the colder months, the body needs warming foods to counteract the colder environment and support the Kidney system, which is considered the foundation of health in TCM.

Winter food as therapy

Here are some food suggestions from a Chinese Medicine perspective:

1. Warming Foods

· Include spices that have warming energies such as black pepper, cayenne, rosemary, sage, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel, and turmeric.

· Most root vegetables are also considered warming and qi boosting, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, squash, leeks, chives, and onions.

· Legumes also support the kidney system such as lentils, chickpeas, and adzuki beans

· Meats such as lamb, mussels, beef, and tuna

2. Bone Broth

· Bone broth is nutrient rich and supports the Kidney system with nutrients such as collagen and minerals. It helps strengthen the body’s overall function. Scroll lower to find my recipe!

3. Soups and Stews

· Food that is cooked for longer periods of time, such as soups and stews, can increase the warming energy of the meal. Use the warming herbs and spices, bone broth, and warming foods to create your soups and stews.

4. Black colored foods

· In Chinese Medicine, black foods support the Kidneys. Foods such as black sesame seeds, black beans, and black rice, are a good way to support the Kidney system.

5. Whole Grains

· Choose grains such as rice, quinoa, barley, and oats to add to your diet. You can also incorporate congees or oatmeal’s as a part of a healthy breakfast to start the day.

6. Herbal Teas

· Drinking warming teas with the same spices as above, such as ginger, cinnamon and cloves, is a great way to get more warming ingredients into your diet. Making teas with goji berries and jujube dates is also a good way to boost your qi and immune system.

7. Immune Boosters

· Consider adding foods such as certain mushrooms to boost your body’s immune system. Some great ones to add in either whole or powdered form are shiitake, maitake, turkey tail, and reishi.

· Chinese Herbs can also be added to soups, oatmeal’s or teas, such as astragalus root, goji berries, jujube dates, and ginseng.

8. Avoid

· Avoid foods that are high in salt, cooling (such as watermelon, bananas, avocados), raw foods, greasy foods, or foods that are too spicy, as these can be damaging to our digestive systems in the cooler months.

Winter food as therapy

Remember, individual constitutions and health conditions can vary, so it is essential to consult with a qualified TCM practitioner or health care practitioner before making significant changes to your diet to get a more individualized food plan. However, many of these foods we all naturally gravitate towards in the cooler months, so consider adding a few more into your diet to boost what most are already doing.


Dr. Carmen Carpenter TCM – ViVi Therapy