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Nutrition is not "one size fits all"

In the last blog post, we talked about how you can eat in order to get more out of your food. Now, we’ll talk a little bit about what to eat. Many of us have learned that when it comes to nutrition, there is an ideal, “one size fits all” diet for optimum health--lots of salad, smoothies, yogurt; not much meat or fat.

In the views of Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM), this “one size fits all” idea doesn't ring true. There is not one diet or way of eating that benefits every single person.

TEAM is all about balance, and individualizing treatment (which includes diet) to give each person specifically what they need. For instance, someone who has diabetes and high blood pressure will not benefit from the same foods as someone who is dealing with a chronic illness like Lyme disease or fibromyalgia.

When looking at the nutritional and medicinal value of food, TEAM doesn’t look at nutrients like vitamins, fats, or proteins. Food is classified by its energetics.

Energetics? What the heck does that mean!?

For the purposes of this post, I am going to grossly simplify a complex topic and boil it down to one thing: temperature. Think of it like you would think of the environment around us. One of the biggest ways we classify our environment is by temperature: HEAT and COLD. Just like the weather is hot and cold, there is heat and cold inside our bodies. We all have a combination of heat and cold, but one or the other is almost always predominating. The purpose of TEAM is to balance the heat and cold--where there is balance, there is health.

How do you know if there is more HEAT or COLD in your system?

If you have more COLD in your system, you might experience:

  • Always feeling cold, wanting be wrapped up in blankets, dislike of cold weather
  • Craving for warm food or drinks
  • Fatigue after you eat.
  • Bloating and/or loose stools
  • Pain that is fixed and stabbing
  • Symptoms that are worse when the weather is cold
  • Frequent urination
  • Pale complexion

If you are someone who tends more toward the COLD side, in general you want to:


  • Cold foods: Ice cream, yogurt, anything below room temperature
  • Raw Foods: raw veggies/salads, sushi
  • Iced Drinks

Enjoy more of:

  • Food and drink that is warm in temperature.
  • Warming spices: ginger, cinnamon, fennel, cumin, rosemary, cloves
  • Warming grains: oats, spelt, quinoa, brown rice
  • Legumes: black beans and lentils

If you have more HEAT in your system, you might experience:

  • Feeling warm often, dislike of hot weather
  • Craving for cold food or drinks
  • Constipation
  • High blood pressure
  • Thirst (especially for cold drinks)
  • Concentrated, yellow urine
  • Bright red tongue
  • Reddish complexion

If you are someone who tends more toward the HOT side, in general you want to:


  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Coffee
  • Red Meat
  • Eat less food in general

Enjoy more of:

  • Cooling foods: fresh fruits and vegetables (citrus fruits, apples, banana; lettuce, cucumber, celery)
  • Soy products (Organic or non-GMO)
  • Sprouts
  • Peppermint
  • Drink lots of fluids

The lists above are generalizations. Not everyone will experience every one of these things. And, as I mentioned above, everyone has a combination of heat and cold in their system. On top of that, certain ailments can stem from either heat OR cold (arthritis, for example).

If you want to get a clear picture of what foods will benefit you from a TEAM perspective, give your local acupuncturist a call for a consultation.

In the meantime, check in with yourself: Do you fall into the "more hot" or "more cold" category? Try to incorporate some of these suggestions into your diet and notice how it makes you feel!