Rebecca Gould
Elemental Harmony Newsletter January 2009
In This Issue
Winter & The Water Element
The Thermal Nature of Food
Qigong Classes
Quick Links
Newsletter Archive
FREE Nutrition Consultation


The darkest day has passed and the new year is upon us!  Winter is the season of the Water Element in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Five Element Theory.

The Water Element rules the Kidneys and Bladder and corresponds to the sense of hearing, the taste of salt, and the emotion of fear. The Kidneys store our essence and are the root of all our yin and yang energies.

This is a time for rest, introspection, and renewal.

On that note, I'm keeping this one short.

But see below for last month's article on the thermal nature of food if you missed the link to it in the November newsletter. Qigong class info is also below.

And if your new year's resolutions are health-related, you can sign up here for a FREE nutrition consultation or call to make an appointment. And if you live in my neck of the woods, you can come to a FREE qigong class January 6 or 7! What have you got to loose?

Wishing you the best,


Thermal Nature of Food

Reprinted, with permission, from the Skagit Valley Food Co-Op's Natural Enquirer December 2008 Issue:

Brrrr, it's getting cold out. But before you turn up the heat or put on another sweater, consider what's on your plate.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is best to avoid cold foods and raw foods (cooling by nature) in the winter and to counterbalance the cold winter weather by warming yourself up from the inside out with warming foods and herbs, soups, stews, and curries. But what if, even in the winter, you're not cold?
I'll get to that in a minute, but first allow me to explain that TCM theory assigns foods with four thermal energies: cool, cold, warm, or hot. For simplicity's sake, we group food into 3 major categories: neutral, cool/cold, or warm/hot.
In general, cold/cool foods, such as all raw foods, eliminate toxins, clear Heat conditions, and cool the blood. Whereas warm/hot foods, such as garlic and lamb, are strengthening and warm the body and meridians, increase blood circulation, and get rid of Cold conditions. Neutral foods balance and harmonize.
Now, what's this mentioning of Heat and Cold conditions? TCM not only assigns thermal natures to food, but also to people! So how do you know if you have a Cold condition, a Heat condition? How do you know which foods are best to limit or avoid and which foods to use to bring yourself more into balance?
For the most accurate answer, consult with a doctor of Chinese Medicine, an acupuncturist, or a nutrition consultant trained in TCM Five Element Theory.
In the mean time, consider your physical temperature. Do you tend to run hot? Or do you tend to run cold?
Although the general rule of Winter eating is to warm ourselves up, if you have excess Heat, then you might actually want to cool yourself down by eating foods with cooler thermal natures despite the colder weather. If you're colder in the winter, then the general winter rule of eating warming foods applies. However, other factors regarding your unique situation and health needs play a role in determining your best food choices.
And that brings me to an important reminder: This article is not meant to assess or diagnose you, or tell you what you should or should not eat. Instead this article is an attempt to raise your awareness regarding how our food choices physically and energetically affect our health, and more specifically how food affects our body temperature as we move into the colder Winter months.
On that note, back to some signs of Cold: feeling cold regularly, an aversion to cold, preference for warm things, feeling contracted, overdressing, clear urine, loose stools, white or pale tongue, slow pulse, and a pale to bright white complexion. And Heat symptoms include feeling hot regularly, an aversion to heat, preference for cold things, frequent thirst, dressing scantily, dryness, constipation, dark urine, red tongue, fast pulse, and red complexion.
As for food choices, warming foods include flax, sesame, vinegar, oats, basmati rice, quinoa, spelt, black beans, nuts, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, garlic, onion, winter squash, kale, mustard greens, parsley, berries, dates, sweeteners, meat, butter, alcohol, turmeric, fenugreek, fennel, black pepper, dried ginger, cinnamon, dill, cayenne, rosemary, and basil.
Cooling foods include seaweeds, fruits (other than berries), sprouts, lettuce, cucumber, mushroom, soy, mung beans, wheat and barley grass, blue green algae, dandelion, peppermint, nettles, cilantro, and aloe vera.
To sum it up, regardless of a list of foods' thermal natures or the symptoms of Heat and Cold conditions: if you feel cold, avoid or limit cold and raw foods and eat more cooked foods; if you feel hot, avoid or limit warming foods and eat more raw and cold foods.
Now, how to pull this off duringthe hectic holiday season, a time when we are tempted by foods that are not so good for us, regardless of their thermal nature? Breathe deep and chew thoroughly. Those are two simple awareness practices that will help you make better intuitive choices regardless of facts and opinions. So just do what you can with this new information, slowly and over time.
If you're trying to warm up, consider skipping the salad and raw fruit. Alternatively, you can balance the cold salad by adding mustard greens and seasoning it with warming herbs. Instead of raw fruit, try baked apples. Or maybe you need a raw, cooling salad to cool down after holiday indulgence in an excess of sweets, meats, and alcohol (all of which are warming)! It all begins with awareness and an attempt towards balance.
So whether you're cooking for yourself or an entire gathering for the holidays, bringing one dish to a potluck, or attending somebody else's party, use this time to experiment. Notice if skipping the dinner salad and eating more cooked veggies affects your physical temperature, your energy level, your bowel movements, your mood. And on a chilly winter morning, see if a bowl of warm root veggie soup with turmeric and pepper stops your chills, warms your toes, or even makes you want to take off your sweater.

Just remember that whether you need to warm up or cool down, you can bring more balance to your entire system, through your food choices.
Qigong Classes
FREE INTRO January 6th and 7th:

Tuesday, 9:45 AM and 11 AM, Anacortes Senior Center
Wednesday, 6 PM, Studio 10 10  (1010 6th Street)

All ages and fitness levels welcome!
Continuing students are welcome and encouraged to attend the free intro.
Class series begin January 13th and 14th:
Sitting Qigong - 5 class series,  $35
                        Tuesdays  11AM at Anacortes Senior Center
 Standing Qigong - 5 class series, $35
                           Wednesdays   6 PM at Studio 10 10 (NEW LOCATION!),
                           Tuesdays 9:45 AM at Senior Center (NEW CLASS OFF!)

For details please visit my website , view the class calendar , or contact me directly.

Registration: Small classes insure heightened individual attention.
                   To register, please call (360) 293-2193.

                         Drop-ins and latecomers are welcome, class size permitting. The cost for dropping in is $10 per class, and if this is your first class, please arrive 10-15 minutes early if possible.

   I look forward to seeing you there!
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