Eating Well in the Year of the Ox

ZxxxJFXdQ6qD4HtziZBcdA_thumb_c1f3The Ox is an Earth animal according to the 5-element cycle of Chinese medicine. The Earth element relates to the Spleen/Stomach and digestion and assimilation of nutrients. In this cycle Earth generates Metal, which relates to the Lung and breathing. Focus on taking care of yourself by eating well and including breathing exercises or relaxed deep breathing in your daily routine.

Worry and rumination negatively affects the Spleen/Stomach and digestion – don’t get stuck thinking about something endlessly. Put it out of your mind unless you can make a decision – then decide and move forward. This is not always easy to do, but practice and it will get easier. It helps if you are taking care of your Spleen/Stomach energy by eating hearty, warming, nutrition dense foods and avoiding sugar. The relationship between worry and digestion is clear in Chinese medicine; both are related to the Earth element, Spleen/Stomach and damp accumulation.

How to Eat Well in the Year of the Ox

Eat warm cooked foods, whole foods, don’t over eat, limit raw, cold and damp foods. Avoid sugar and limit dairy as they contribute to dampness. Too much grain can also lead to damp accumulation. Eat warm hearty meals with plenty of protein, especially bone broth, soups and stews.

Meat and seafood: Lamb, grass-fed beef, liver, chicken (especially dark meat or breast with the skin), turkey, salmon, trout, sardines, herring, tuna

Root vegetables: Sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga

Shiitake mushrooms, green beans, swish chard, cabbage, kale, winter squash

Pungent vegetables: Garlic, leek, onion, shallots

Warming spices: Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, coriander, clove fennel, anise, star anise, rosemary, thyme, sage, basil

Fruit: Figs, raspberries, blueberries, pomegranate, cherries, dates, raisins, pear

Nuts: Walnuts, pistachio

Butter, ghee, walnut oil

Oats, rice congee


Chew! Digestion starts in the mouth, so give you digestion a break by chewing well, ideally 30 times.

Eat warm foods. The process of digestion involves breaking food down into a warm soup in the Stomach, then the Spleen can do its job of extracting nutrients. This is one of the reasons that soup and stew is recommended as the most Spleen/Stomach-supportive meals. In Chinese medicine we advise against chilling the Spleen/Stomach. If you only like iced beverages and cold foods, you may have an excess heat pattern.

It is still winter, so eating well for the Water Element and Kidney energy is still relevant. Bone broth is key here.

If you want to want to maximize your nutrition and/or reset your eating habits, try a Nourishing Winter Cleanse.

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