By Stephanie Hodges
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) places great emphasis on diet and health care and in restoring physical and emotional harmony. In order to maintain harmony within the body and to avoid extremes it is traditional to balance foods that are yin (hot) with foods that yang (cold). In many cases, yin and yang foods are defined by type not by temperature, thus, most fruit and vegetables are cold while red meats and spices are hot. Different cooking methods also affect the attributes of food, for example, boiled and streamed foods are usually considered cold and fried foods hot, Rice is a balanced or neutral food.
Different conditions are considered hot or cold (yang or yin excessive or deficient) and an appropriate diet of heating and cooling foods may be chosen to assist restore and balance. According to TCM diet is very importance in ensuring a healthy pregnancy and recovery after birth. Both before and after birth some woman may choose or avoid certain foods.
Pregnancy is traditionally regarded as a yang (hot) time in a woman’s life. TCM would suggest balancing this by cutting down on refined foods, red meat, butter, spicy foods, fried dishes and increasing neutral or cooling foods such as brown rice, raw fruits and vegetables, seaweeds, fish, and yogurt. As well as increasing, cool liquids to avoid overheating and drying.
After birth the mother is traditionally regarded as being in a yin (cold) condition and requires yang (hot foods) to help build up her health. Good choices of yang foods include cooked grains (rice, oats), cooked vegetables (yams, squash, kale, garlic) and cooked fruits, stews, soups, lentils and organic meats. It is advised to limit cooling foods such as raw fruit and vegetables. Another yang elixir that helps to restore a mother’s balance after birth is broth. Broth is traditionally given to help warm the mother while replacing nutrients and electrolytes, which will assist her recovery and milk production.
It is important to consider that not all pregnancies are alike and each person has a unique constitution. The body’s balance can also be affected by climate, fitness and emotional health. If approaching your diet with TCM principles interests you please contact Stephanie for a consultation.
Nourishing pregnancy foods
Smoothies with frozen berries and yogurt
Cooled grain salads
Steamed kale & chard
Seaweed, dulse, kelp
Nourishing new mother foods
Homemade bone broths
Stephanie Hodges BA, RHN, CD(DONA) is a Nutritionist at Pomegranate Community Midwives. She offers private consultations and group nutrition education session.
Schott J and Henley A (2004) Culture, Religion and Childbearing in a Multiracial Society: A Handbook for Health Professionals, Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford
Clobin, A.(1986) Food & Healing, Balatine books, New York