The Chinese Diet: Differences from Western Diet

The Chinese diet and the Western diet have two fundamental differences. Firstly, the Western diet is primarily focused on weight loss, whereas the Chinese diet is designed not only to aid in weight loss but also to treat a wide range of other ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, common cold, gastritis, diarrhea, constipation, cough, hepatitis, psoriasis, common acne, eczema, and more.

For instance, the Chinese diet considers it bad for someone with constipation to drink tea, while someone with a cough is advised to eat apples with honey. People who suffer from headaches, diarrhea, or diabetes want to know which foods they should consume to alleviate their symptoms and which ones to avoid to prevent their symptoms from worsening. Similarly, those who are overweight would want to know which foods to eat to reduce their weight and which ones to avoid to prevent weight gain.

Undoubtedly, weight loss is an important part of the Chinese diet. However, there are other considerations as crucial as weight loss to Chinese dietitians. Recently, I read a Western physician's diet book, and I was amazed to find no information on the dietary treatment of symptoms such as sore throat, hemorrhoids, hiccupping, vomiting, fever, toothache, psoriasis, stomachache, and other ailments, all of which are crucial in the Chinese diet.

The second difference between the Chinese and Western diets is that while the Western diet considers foods for their protein, calorie, carbohydrate, vitamin, and other nutrient content, the Chinese diet focuses on flavors, energies, movements, and common and organic actions.

For instance, if someone feels cold in their body and limbs, they would prefer to eat something that warms them. Similarly, if someone feels hot, they would want something to cool them down. If someone has a weak stomach, they would naturally want to eat something that strengthens their stomach, and if someone feels their kidneys weakening, they would want something that strengthens their kidneys. Ginger can warm someone because it has warm energy, while mung beans can cool someone down because they have a cool energy. Sugar can strengthen the stomach because it tastes sweet and acts on the stomach, while yam can strengthen the kidneys because it acts on the kidneys in a special way.

Although nutritional information on foods can be found in the Western diet, it does not provide information on how different foods can affect the body. For example, red pepper contains vitamins A and C, but it does not indicate that it can warm someone. Similarly, mung beans contain some protein and carbohydrates, but it does not tell us that they can cool someone down. Black pepper contains some protein, but it does not indicate that it can strengthen the stomach. Yam contains protein, carbohydrates, calcium, and many vitamins, but it does not tell us that it can strengthen the kidneys. These examples highlight how the Chinese diet differs from the Western diet.

The essential aspects of the Chinese diet regarding foods include the five flavors of foods, the five energies of foods, the movements of foods, and the common and organic actions of foods.