Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food on your Spring Retreat.

 

It was Hippocrates who said ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be they food’ some 2500 years ago, promoting the idea that we should look first to the food we consume as a basis for good health before we visit the pharmacy shelves. We agree wholeheartedly.

I’d like to tell you a little about the food on our Qigong Retreat…..

because how you feel about the food can influence the whole retreat experience. Hippocrates little bit of universal wisdom is being cashed in on to the point where making choices around food and diet can be somewhat overwhelming. There is so much ‘advice’ available, and for every new ‘superfood’ discovered there’s now a basket full of things to avoid.

So we go for a simple approach informed by the Five Element theory in Chinese Medicine. We look to the season-element-organ relationship to help choose foods that are

  1. in tune with Natures impulse
  2. nourish or assist a particular organ and associated body regions

It’s not a hard and fast rule though, just a set of guidelines, or a paradigm through which to understand how to maintain balance. It’s also not exclusive, so gluten, dairy, grain free, vegetarian and vegan dietary requirements can all be accommodated for.

Spring is governed by the wood element…

so that’s our guide when it comes to putting together the menu, along with the abundance of seasonal produce available from the local farmers markets. Foods with an expanding and ascending nature are favoured. You can see the upward impulse of Spring expressed in leeks, broccoli, leafy greens, beans, rhubarb, sprouts and fennel.

The liver and gallbladder are also governed by the wood element…..

so we call in foods that harmonize and tonify these organs by supporting liver Yin and calming liver Yang, like licorice, cabbage, tofu and sweet potato. In TCM the livers’ main function is to store blood and support the heart so we will throw in some beetroot and mung bean. And a little from the pungent food group will help stimulate circulation and assist digestion, allowing the Qi to float up to nourish the mind.

Breakfast begins with tea….– ginger, mint, lemon myrtle and whatever else the garden offers followed by a warm and easily digestible dish. Perhaps a millet porridge with chinese date, rhubarb and cinnamon or a rice congee with Shitake, spring onions and scrambled egg. Many things can be added for medicinal or flavour effect.

Lunch is the main meal of the day….. and will offer high protein dishes and plenty of salads. Legumes, seeds, nuts, cheese and perhaps a small amount of slow cooked meat or bone broth, optional of course.

Dinner is modest… as overeating is one of the best ways to make the liver feel sluggish. And as the liver is responsible for the tendon, ligament and eye tissues let just say that a sluggish live effects our capacity for flexibility and sight on all levels. So soups, and slow cooked stews are the go.

I won’t tell you much about the afternoon tea treats. You’ll have to come to find out about that.

Ps. healthful brownies that taste great are possible.

 

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