Chinese food therapy dates back as early as 500 BC. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine also known as the Neijing, which was written around 300 BC, was most important in forming the basis of Chinese food therapy. It classified food by four food groups, five tastes and by their natures and characteristics.
Throughout Chinese history, healthcare was not the responsibility of the state but rather the responsibility of every ordinary citizen. People used their own resources to find cures when they became sick, which meant that most people could not afford to be sick. This is why preventive healthcare is so popular in China. Out of the four pillars of health, lifestyle, diet, exercise and mind, diet is most important because food is considered the primary cause of sickness as well as the main reason for living long and healthy.
Eating food according to your constitution and in harmony with the climate is fundamental to staying well. Understanding common diseases, knowing how to read their early symptoms and knowing the nature and characteristics of foods are keys to eating right for preventive healthcare.
Chinese medicine believes that most diseases progress from initial stage with obvious surface symptoms or external conformation and develop into bigger problems with internal conformation. If we can identify problems at the initial stage and treat them with dispersing medicine, we can stop them from progressing further. When diseases turn internal, they become chronic in nature and are more difficult to treat. The treatment starts by treating the interior symptoms. When the interior problems are corrected, the surface symptoms disappear automatically. During sickness, it is important to eat foods that are complementary to the treatment so that relief can be achieved sooner. Usually Chinese doctors explain the nature of the problem and give advice on what foods to eat and what to avoid during that time.
Most therapeutic food dishes are eaten as meals or with meals and repeated for days or sometimes weeks until the body has enough nutrition to repair itself. The results are more comprehensive and permanent. After recovery, repeating the recipe at regular intervals is recommended for maintenance purposes.
Eating purposely for health requires knowledge, time and effort. Investing in your food is an investment in yourself; health and quality of life will follow.