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(5 pages total)

Page 4 - Eating in Harmony with Daily Energetics


The noon meal occurs in the middle, summer­time of the day. At noon, as in the summer, the Sun's energy is felt most strongly on Earth, and the Qi of Nature is expanding strongly outward. This time is characterized by a Natural predominance of yang­Qi in the forms of heat and fire. These quickly consume and transform yin­Qi "i.e. matter" to radiate energy in all directions.

As noted briefly above, Chinese medicine teaches that the Spleen is responsible for transformation of gu­Qi "yin­material food" into refined zhen­Qi­­ or true, functional human­life energy. The Spleen is most active between the hours of 9:00 and 11:00 a.m., readily transforming food into energy. In corroboration of the Chinese view, western science has found that individuals who consume the majority of their calories in the morning have more energy and no difficulty maintaining their weight, whereas those who consume the majority of their calories in the evening tend to be sluggish and gain a disproportionate amount of weight.

Since the noon meal follows the time of day when the Spleen has been move active in transforming food into energy, and is at the time of predominance of yang­Qi, this is the time that our yang digestive fire is strongest. Traditional herbal wisdom maintains that the way to harmonize with yang­predominant noon­ or summer­Qi is to eat more pungent and hot foods. Hot foods such as hot soups and hot whole grains are the ideal basis for a noon meal. This may seem unusual to Americans, who are used to lunching on cold sandwiches, salads, iced soft drinks, fruits and juices, and ice cream and milkshakes.

Hot entrees may be seasoned with hot­energy herbs such as ginger, garlic, red or green pepper, basil, and scallions. Mustard and radish greens are also hot and pungent, and are ideal foods for the noon meal.

Although yang­Qi is predominant at noon, it is not without its yin complement. As in the Taiji diagram, it is the tiny spot of yin in the ocean of yang that holds it all together in the extreme. In the noon meal, it is important to include some small amount of yin, cool, even raw foods to provide dynamic contrast. Ideally, this may come from salty condiments, sea vegetables, or salty marinated salads in the style of Japanese cooking. Salt has a decidedly cool and condensing energy that provides a pleasant anchor for the upward and outward energy of hot­pungent foods; additionally, according to the Nei Ching, the salty flavor can tonify the Heart. Since noon is also the time of day when the Heart is most active, according to traditional Chinese physiology, the salty flavor may be important at the noon meal. Isn't it interesting that common sense refers to a well­seasoned, salty meal as "heart­y"!

In summary, noon is the most appropriate time to have a good sized, dynamic, and hearty meal. This also may seem unusual to Americans, who often eat a small lunch on the run, or no lunch at all. A large noon meal followed by a xiuxi, or afternoon siesta, is in fact a common practice in China and other traditional cultures around the world.

Example: Hot vegetable soup with hot­ pungent and/or salty seasoning and a garnish of scallions. Hot whole grain, pasta, or fresh Chinese­style flat or steamed bread. Stir­fried vegetable with fresh or pickled mustard or radish greens, or salt­marinated salad with pungent vegetables such as onions. Roasted and salted seeds and/or roasted seaweed condiments.

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