Balancing your Diet with Traditional Chinese Medicine Nutrition

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is such an interesting system! A lot of people don’t know this, but I have actually been studying Chinese Medicine since 2016, and am just finishing my final clinical hours to graduate (I’m actually super excited)! 🥳

I always found nutrition to be the most interesting aspect of TCM because it takes things such as taste, colour and temperature of foods in mind. As you may know, in our society most dieticians typically only take nutrient content and calorie amount in mind when constructing diet plans. Which is great, because it’s so important that we meet the dietary guidelines, however food can do so much more for us if we consider all aspects and qualities!

So today I decided to write a quick blog on Traditional Chinese Medicine nutrition, how it works and how I personally use it to help my clients balance their diets!

Yin and Yang

In Chinese Medicine, the concept of yin and yang is really important.

Yin is considered the light and is attributed to cold and deficiency. Whereas yang is considered the darkness and is more excess and hot.

Individuals who have a more yin constitution typically feel cold and tired most of the time, crave warmer foods and may have more specific symptoms such as night sweats or a pale tongue.

Individuals who have a more yang constitution typically feel hot, have trouble falling asleep, crave colder foods and have a red tongue which signifies heat within the body.

The interesting thing is that the tongue actually says so much about someone’s health and diet! A pale tongue means that there is cold within the body, and the patient should eat warmer foods such as cinnamon, soups or vegetable broths.

Whereas a red tongue means there is too much heat in the body, and the patient should eat colder foods such as cucumbers, salads or smoothies.

For more information on how tongue diagnosis works and tips on checking yours out at home, check out my blog Tongue Diagnosis: The Basics.

Balancing diet with temperature

Chinese Medicine practitioners use this very basis to come up with personalized diet plans. Yin and yang is huge and in my opinion, not mainstream enough!

From there, we can start using the temperature of foods to restore balance within the body. For example, as someone who has been vegan for 5+ years, I eat a lot of foods that are cold in nature. I used to always have cold hands and feet, I always felt tired and had pale dry skin.

Using moisturizer didn’t seem to make a difference and no matter how many sweaters I wore- I was still cold!

It wasn’t until I started studying Chinese Medicine when I learned about the concept of warming or cooling the interior. Which basically means to eat more foods based on temperature so that your organs have an optimal environment!

Because I balance my diet using temperature in addition to my dietary needs, I no longer have any negative symptoms and my digestive system has never been healthier.

This can be applied to people who experience pain as well! People who have pain typically have poor circulation, commonly known as blood stasis in TCM. Blood stasis results in a purplish tongue, pain and sometimes inflammation. Foods that move the blood (improve circulation) such as mung beans, black beans or green lentils would be greatly beneficial in this case!

Taste and colour

Taste is another interesting aspect that we look at! The five element theory attributes each organ to a taste, colour, season and element. The five element theory is mainly used when selecting an acupuncture treatment plan, but it can also come in handy when creating a personalized diet plan as well!

As you can see, each organ has a different colour. Meaning, we benefit from eating all of the colours that nature has to offer!

Here’s a quick breakdown of each colour, the connected organ and foods that are beneficial:

  • Green (liver): kale, bok choy, collards, cabbage, green lentils
  • Red (heart): tomatoes, cherries, red pepper, strawberries
  • Yellow (spleen): corn, potatoes, squash
  • White (lungs): onions, garlic, green tea
  • Black (kidneys): black beans, dark fruits, blueberries

Interestingly enough, green foods are high in antioxidants which help detoxify the liver and improves the quality of blood. Red fruits & veggies contain a compound called Lycopene which is what produces red pigmentation, and is also beneficial to our heart and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Yellow foods such as corn and potatoes contain starches that are beneficial to our gut microbe and white foods such as garlic or herbal teas can vent pathogens out of the lungs.

And lastly, dark foods such as black beans, blueberries and dark berries are high in antioxidants that are beneficial to our kidneys and water metabolism.

As you can see there are many overlapping theories and modern day nutritional facts that do support each other!

Check out the rest of the chart and try to incorporate more colourful foods into your diet this week!


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog on modern day nutrition and Chinese Medicine diet. I really hope I did a good job explaining certain concepts and didn’t lose you half way through haha!

The main thing I want you to takeaway is that there are plenty of ways to balance our bodies with food and nutrition! The earth has over 80,000 edible plants and herbs that aid our health and fight against disease. Start choosing fruits and veggies that are colourful, nutritious and always keep your health in mind above anything else!

“The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”.

For personalized nutrition advice/health coaching, please click here to check out my services!

Healthy Living

Tongue Diagnosis: The Basics

The tongue is a very interesting organ that is often overlooked in Western Medicine. But in TCM, the tongue plays an important role in assessment and diagnosis. The tongue is the only organ that can really give us an idea of our internal health and displays a lot more than just oral hygiene. Have you ever noticed that no matter how much you brush your tongue, there is still a coating? This coating can tell you so much about your lifestyle and can even be linked with certain symptoms!

The way this works is that in TCM, parts of the tongue are associated with different internal organs. The colour, coating and size of the tongue are all taken in mind when doing a tongue diagnosis.

This map of the tongue is generally used when doing an assessment. It’s important to notice if there’s a difference between each section or organ. In some patients, there are purple spots or cracks on certain areas. This is all normal, and can be changed with the proper lifestyle and diet.

Here are four key descriptors when looking at your tongue:

  • Body Colour: Pale, Red, Crimson, Purplish Blue.
  • Body Shape: Enlarged (Swollen), Thin, Deviated,
  • Coating: White, Yellow, Thick/Thin
  • Texture: Moist, Cracked, Rough, Peeling, Slimy/Greasy

In this blog, I will go into depth about what each tongue colour signifies, associated symptoms, and small lifestyle changes that you can make. A healthy tongue should be a fleshy pink with a bit of a coating. The sides should not have teeth marks, and it should not look swollen or thinned out.

A Pale tongue is associated with deficiency in TCM. It’s linked to fatigue, poor appetite, pale complexion, spontaneous sweating, feeling cold and tired. It’s generally seen on those who eat foods that are colder in nature such as raw foods, fruits, salads and vegetables. These foods are amazing for you, but in moderation! If your tongue is pale, it’s because you are eating too much cold foods. Try cooking a bit of apple with cinnamon or adding ginger to your diet. These foods will warm your interior and help ease some of the mentioned symptoms. Another useful tip is to soak your feet in a warm bath when you feel cold.

A Red tongue is linked to many heat symptoms such as constipation, skin irregularities, feeling hot/thirsty and having trouble sleeping. A red tongue is generally seen when someone indulges in spicy foods and is a result of too much heat in the body. To cool your interior, try eating more foods that are colder in nature such as fruits, salads, vegetables and fruit juices. You can also try meditating because heat is also linked to irritation and a bad temper. Mint is great for cooling the body!

A Purplish Blue tongue is linked to blood stasis. Blood stasis is when the blood circulation in the body is not optimal. This can manifest as headaches, pain, cold limbs, varicose veins and digestive issues. A purple/blue tongue is generally seen in older patients, smokers and those with less nutritionally rich diets. A purple tongue signifies that both diet and lifestyle need to be improved. The best thing to do if you notice your tongue is purple or has purple spots, is to start exercising daily and go for a massage. Also, incorporate nutrient rich foods into your diet such as black beans, lentils and avocados. This will improve your circulation and therefore ease pain and the above mentioned symptoms.

Aside from the appearance of your tongue, please make sure that you are properly nourishing your mind and body. This means doing what makes you happy, eating nutrient dense foods and practicing self-care. Never forget how important you really are!

If you want to learn more about how TCM theory works, click here.