ACH Blog

Chinese medicine and our connection with the Earth

Isobel Cosgrove - Monday, June 01, 2020

In previous blogs, I have written of how we have been able, through lockdown, to plant seeds, grow vegetables and fruit, and cook from simple raw ingredients in a way we could not in our previous working or school lives. 

Here are some further pieces of Chinese wisdom on how we can eat to promote better health and wellbeing:

Our bodies take in nourishment most effectively early in the day. Our stomachs have more digestive energy in the morning, before 11am. When we lived on the land, before the Industrial Revolution, our day began early. We milked the cows, checked animals out in the fields, fed those in barns, and then came in for a farmhouse breakfast. In the 21st Century, we are more likely to grab a coffee and pastry on the way to work. 

fruit sandwich on a blue ceramic plate


In 2020, since March, we have had more time to prepare and eat breakfast. Maybe we soaked porridge oats, or made a pancake mix, or we cooked bacon, eggs and beans. Either way, we are probably eating well. At lunch, we can sit down together for salad, soup, or leftovers. Or we may cook a steak on the barbeque. This is much better than snacking or buying fast food during a working day. 

Eating protein at breakfast, and/or lunch gives us much better, longer lasting and stable levels of energy during the day. Because this is when we are most active, daytime is when we need most energy. If we wait to eat protein in the evening, after work, our stomachs do not have the same ability to digest as they did in the morning. For example, if we eat a lot of protein at 8pm, it will take a further 6 hours to digest. This may well disturb our sleep, as supper at 7pm will only be digested by 1am. 

bowl of fried rice

Eating a light meal in the early evening will help us unwind, and won’t disturb our sleep. However, Chinese doctors do recommend that we meet up around the dinner table, in the evenings, to enjoy contact with family and/or friends (when not in lockdown). 

So do have supper, and catch up on everyone’s day, because it is nourishing for the heart to connect with those we love as the evening arrives. At the same time, although the heart needs warmth and contact late in the day, the stomach needs a rest, so have vegetables with rice, or baked potatoes with fillings, or samosas. 

Eat something light which digests quickly, so that you can wind down slowly and have a restorative night’s rest. 

These books may inspire you to try some new kinds of cooking: 

“Everyday & Sunday Recipes” by Guy Watson & Jane Baxter

Picture 1 of 2

“Abel & Cole Veg Box Companion” by Keith Abel

“Chinese Vegetarian Cookery” by Jack Santa Maria 

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