5 Tips for Winter Nourishment from Traditional Chinese Medicine

5 Tips for Winter Nourishment from Traditional Chinese Medicine

5 Tips for Winter Nourishment from Traditional Chinese Medicine

With the short days, crisp mornings and cold nights, we know it is Winter in Brisbane.

Many of us tend to seek foods this season to warm us up and give us the energy we need.

In the Ancient East Asian tradition, to live in harmony with the seasons is essential. A life of balance and harmony will increase health and decrease disease. A connection with the environment imbues all of life.

According to East Asian medicine, Winter is a time to look inwardslow down, and nourish your Yin energy. Yin is about cold and darkness but also about becoming receptive, reflective and restorative. In Winter, you want to cool the surface of the body and warm the body’s core. Our choice of food needs to reflect and support this. We need to choose foods that warm the gut. It is important to support our digestive system and overall health by ingesting more warm (temperature) and warming (nature) foods and drinks. 

Did you know that:

  • Plants that take longer to grow are more warming (i.e. root vegetables versus lettuce)?
  • Raw food is more cooling than cooked food?
  • Food eaten cold (i.e. dairy) is more cooling?
  • Food with red, orange or yellow colours (i.e. carrots) is more warming than foods that are blue, green or purple (i.e. cucumber)?

Here are 5 tips for Winter nourishment:

1 Choose root vegetables and warming fruits

Root vegetables are generally storage organs to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They often grow underground and are considered important staple foods. The most common root vegetables are: 

Pumpkin, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, butternut squash, fennel, radishes, onions and sweet potatoes. Notice the colour? Most of the root vegetables are yellow or orange. 

Root spices that are warming are garlic, ginger and turmeric

Fruits such as mangoes, apples, dates, oranges, lemons as well as raspberries are considered warming. 

2 Select warming methods 

Eat food that is warmed, meaning cooked, steamed or heated up. The digestive system is like a little stove. It likes to work with warm food to function optimally. Try warm grain porridges, eggscasseroles, stews and warm soups. Be moderate with raw food such as salads, dairy and anything straight from the fridge. 

Also, chew food more thoroughly because that creates warmth as well!

3 Bring out the slow cooker

Winter is a good time to cook foods over a long period on low heat. This allows the food to break down sufficiently, making it easier for the body to digest during the cold months when we don’t have much heat in the environment to speed up our metabolism. 

4 Nourish your Kidney energy

The Water element in East Asian medicine belongs to the Winter season and is correlated to the Kidneys. The Kidneys are considered the root and foundation of the body and the foundation for all yin and yang qualities we have.

Winter is the season to sustain our energy with foods that will support our Kidney energy. Include beans such as black beans, kidney beans, and adzuki beans (also known as red beans). Add seeds such as fenugreek and  anise seeds into your meals. Chicken, beef and lamb are good meats to choose from. If you love seafood, consider trout, salmon and prawnsBone broth is a nutritious food to nourish and support the immune system and the gut. Nuts in general and walnuts, in particular, raise the Kidney energy. Spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, dill, fennel, coriander, black peppercorn and rosemary add flavour to your Winter cooking to support that Yin energy.

5 Nourish your mind and spirit too 

Winter nourishment is not only about food and physical health. It is a time to “go inside” and spend some quieter time resting and restoring, meditating, creating. It’s also a time to nourish relationships, spending time with people who matter in our lives. 

Each season has its own beauty, and East Asian medicine can help us nourish our minds, bodies and spirits in every season. 

At Ondol Clinic, we are here to support you this Winter. Whether it is preventative or protective, we can assist you in strengthening and balancing the Kidney energy in your body to be resilient and healthy through the colder months. Acupuncturemoxibustion and herbal medicine can assist your body in finding harmony with the natural energy (Qi) of this time of year. 

If you have any further questions or would like more information on lifestyle advice, acupuncture or booking appointments, please call us on 3371 0100 or visit www.ondol.com.au/make-a-booking/.


Pitchford, P 1993 “Healing with Whole Foods”, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California.


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