Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and like many of you, I’ll be spending the holiday with family. My daughter and I will share memories and catch up with recent events, while cooking our mostly traditional Thanksgiving dinner. In Taoist and Chinese understanding, food like everything in the universe has “Qi” or life force. When we eat, food shares its life force with us. This life force influences us in different ways, for example, the Qi of whole wheat is as follows: wheat has a cooling thermal nature, it’s sweet, builds yin (fluids) and benefits the heart and calms the spirit. This holistic system includes the understanding that food, with its nutritional components and mystical qualities is a powerful healing force. I thought it would be fun to analyse, Chinese style, the Qi and energetic influence of some of the ingredients in a typical Thanksgiving dinner.
Turkey – warming (though less so than chicken), building, tonifys qi and builds blood
Cranberries – slightly warming, sour flavor, astringent, benefits the liver & kidneys, cleanses the blood of toxins, controls urinary functions, astringes essence
Sweet Potatoes or Yams – cooling thermal nature, sweet flavor, strengthens the spleen and stomach, clears heat, tonifys qi.
White Potatoes – neutral, sweet, tonifys spleen-pancreas qi, harmonizes the stomach, lubricates the intestines, mildly diuretic, strengthens kidney yin
Green Beans – slightly sweet & bland, warming, descends chi, benefits the lungs, kidneys & Qi
Leafy Greens (kale) – slightly bitter, warming, strengthens stomach, descends Qi
Onions, garlic, green Onions & other pungent vegetables (garlic, green onions, leeks etc.) – warming, immunity building, dries dampness, benefits the lungs
Winter squashes, pumpkin, carrots – warming thermal nature, sweet flavor, influences the spleen-pancreas, stomach, reduces inflammation
Apples – cooling, sweet & sour, produces fluids in the body, moistens dryness and reduces heat, especially in the lungs
– cooling thermal nature, sweet flavor, benefits the stomach and immune system
Just as food shares its life force with us, we share our life force (Qi) with food. This may sound silly to some, but if you consider that everything in the universe is Qi and that Qi (energy) borders are not as well defined as physical boundaries, then it follows that, if the person(s) preparing the food is not feeling well, or has some level of negative emotion, that energy will be absorbed by the food. It makes sense then, that a meal prepared lovingly is far more nourishing for both body and spirit.
Foods can also be influenced by cooking, freezing or adding other ingredients. For example, a cooling food, like apples, will become neutral when baked and if you also add warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves etc, like in apple pie, it can change the apple’s influence to warming. We should also be mindful of how food is grown or raised. Was your turkey naturally raised, naturally fed and allowed to run free (this makes for a happy turkey)? Are your vegetables locally grown, fresh, frozen, organic? This new way of understanding food is truly ancient, natural and really quite simple when you get the hang of it. All the senses are engaged when you evolve your relationship to food and with experience and practice you will also develop an intuitive skill for “knowing” what foods resonate best with your body type and climate. Talk about soul food!
Our wish for you is that Thanksgiving Day and everyday is full of positive Qi, nourishing sustenance and peaceful moments to appreciate life.
In Gratitude, Frank & Miki
Thanksgiving Week Schedule No Clinic – Wednesday, Nov. 25th or Saturday, Nov. 28 No Classes Saturday, Nov. 28th & Sunday, Nov. 29th.