Food Guidance in TCM


A constant and regular life-style; Suitable amounts of work and rest.


BITTER Adjusts Fire [HT-SI]  Preparation by raw, pressed, blanching.

SWEET Adjusts Earth [ST-SP]  Preparation by steaming, low heat cooking for a long time, boiling.

PUNGENT Adjusts Metal [LU-LI]  Sauteéing then covered simmering, and pressure cooking.

SALTY Adjusts Water [KI-BL]  Preparation by stewing, frying, crockery cooking.

SOUR Adjusts Wood [LV-GB] Preparation by steaming, pressing, pickling.



STIR-FRYING Yang energy increases in food that is prepared by stir-frying, particularly over flame. Since stir-frying infuses food with Yang energy, it is a method to expand Yang QI in one who is Yang deficient, as well as for many overall, during the winter months.

STEAMING & BLANCHING A moistening, purifying and ultimately yin cooking technique. Foods that have been steamed or blanched become infused with condensation and accent the fluid added by this cooking process. When steamed food is ingested it engenders heat cooling and yin preserving to the body.

BAKING Creates a reservoir of heat which is absorbed by the food and imparted in the digestive process.

STEWING Adds Yin nourishing, warm energy to foods and greater digestive nourishment.

PRESSURE COOKING Holds energy in food.

BOILING Releases heat and essence of foods.

SAUTEEING Long-cooking that softens foods and stores inherent QI.

BRAISING Retains moistening quality of food.

SOAKING Adds digestibility to seeds, grains, nuts and beans.

ROASTING & TOASTING Increases bitter flavor in foods.


IN SPRING Eat more sweet and less sour food to prevent excess in the Liver. Fresh, wild greens, lightly fermented food, grains
Light cooking style steaming, cooking for a short time

IN SUMMER Lighter quality and some raw foods
Large-leaved greens, summer squashes, sweet corn, fruit
Light cooking style: steaming and quick cooking
Lighter grains, such as white, long-grain rice, barley

IN AUTUMN Food of a more concentrated quality.
Root vegetables, winter squashes, beans.
Grains such as sweet rice, mochi and millet.

IN WINTER Food of a stronger, concentrated quality
Added root vegetables, miso, tamari, sesame oil, and some salt.
Heavier grains such as sweet rice, buckwheat, and oats.


A constant and regular life-style;

Suitable amounts of work and rest.


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