5. The importance of a balanced diet A balanced diet means the combination of the right amount and variety of foods which can provide the nutrients and energy our body needs. Demand and supply must match.
The core of TCM nutritional theory is the balance of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’; all medicinal herbal remedies are based on this belief. Diseases are caused by the imbalance of yin and yang, thus TCM treatments such as acupuncture, qigong, massage, herbal and food remedies are all aimed to restore this balance.
TCM medicinal herbal remedies emphasize the balance between ‘heaty’ and ‘cooling’ elements, and the right combination of various tastes such as sweet, sour, bitter, spicy and salty. If one indulges in too much ‘heaty’ or ‘cooling’ elements, the yin-yang balance will be lost. An individual’s physical properties and their living environment should also be considered. Generally speaking, a diet that is conducive to yin-yang balance is encouraged. For example, one should not eat oily food if their body condition is considered ‘damp’; a ‘heaty’ person should not eat too much spicy food; people with a ‘cold stomach’ should avoid raw and cold food.
Treating food as medicine is one of the trademarks of TCM. Food and medicine（Chinese herbal medicine) share some similarities in appearance, color, smell and texture; both of which can be used to restore yin-yang balance and their application go by the same principles.