Western nutritional theory focuses more on the concept of a balanced diet based on the 4 food groups, the food pyramid as well as the material food components such as carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
In the Eastern nutrition, a balanced diet is based upon the holistic concept of yin and yang and illustrates how thermal nature (hot/cold/neutral) and flavour of foods (sweet/acrid/sour/bitter/salty) influence the Healthy Body. Like with how acupuncture points are based on a patient’s specific TCM pattern, your diet should also be modified based on your diagnosis.
For example, a common diet misconception in the West is that salads, smoothies and juices are good for everyone because of the large quantity of fruit and vegetables. From a vitamin and mineral perspective, this may be true, but one thing that all these items have in common based on TCM theory is that they are cold in property. If a person has a cold constitution, or an already weak digestive system, consuming a lot of these types of foods it can make their symptoms worse.
It is important to understand that everyone is an individual, which means there isn’t a one size fits all solution, especially when it comes to diet. Once you know your TCM diagnosis and have an understanding of what that means, you can adjust your diet to what is best for your Healthy Body. The famous physician Sun Si Miao of the Tang Dynasty emphasized the important role of dietary therapy:
“Dietary therapy should be the first step when one treats a disease. Only when this is unsuccessful should one try medicines.”
In a further quote, he emphasizes the preventive character of Chinese dietetics:
“Without the knowledge of proper diet, it is hardly possible to enjoy good health.”