Following up from last week, this is the second post in the Eating for your Constitution posts.  As stated last week, medicated diet is one of the cornerstones of Chinese Medicine.  There is no better- and more cost effective way to care about your health.  You have to eat anyways, so why not eat the right things!  There are a few general guidelines that everyone should follow, otherwise eating for your constitution is key.  If you are unsure of your constitution, please check with your TCM practitioner.

  • Have regular meals at regular times – your body will regulate better!
  • Use whole foods without preservatives and additives – you’ll function better!
  • Prepare your food with thoughtfulness and love – they’ll taste better!
  • Eat slowly, chew thoroughly, smile and enjoy your food – you’ll digest better!

These are a list of some of the most common excess type constitutions.


Eating for your Constitution – Liver Qi Stagnation

Feeling stressed?  Feeling stuck? Muscle tension?  A little irritable, or depressed?  Often times this is due to Qi Stagnation, where things in our bodies are just not moving as smoothly as they should be.

The Type: Rib side pain, epigastric distension, a slight feeling of oppression in the chest, irritability, melancholy, depression, moodiness, premenstrual tension, problem periods, premenstrual breast distention, feeling of a lump in the throat.

Eat: Generally with this condition, one should eat less, have the main meals earlier in the day, eat light and mildly spiced foods, have foods that are stir fried, poached or steamed, and add more veggies to the diet.

  • Grains: sprouted grains, sourdough rye bread
  • Veggies: onions, garlic, mustard greens, watercress, fresh vegetables, asparagus, taro, cabbage, turnip, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, beetroot, jerusalem artichoke
  • Fruit: citrus, sour cherry, plums
  • Meat: small quantities of high quality protein and fish
  • Spices: turmeric, basil, mint, peppermint, pepper, cardamom, cumin, fennel, dill, ginger
  • Other: horseradish, small amounts of grape or rice wine, one cup of coffee per day; vinegar, pickles, extra virgin olive oil, molasses

Avoid:  Processed foods, junk food, adulterated food, unnecessary drugs or intoxicants, eating under pressure or when upset, no skipping meals or overeating; avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and oils, excessive hot and pungent foods and cold or refrigerated foods, artificial or synthetic products, and have fewer carbohydrates and meats.

  • Veggies: salads and raw vegetable juices
  • Meats: red meats
  • Other: hot chilies, pepper, peppers, spirits, beer, white wine, preservatives, colourings, pharmaceuticals (as appropriate)
  • Damp Foods: diary, cheese, eggs, cream, ice cream, lard, shortening, margarine, nuts, pizza, French fries


Eating for your Constitution – Dampness & Phlegm

The same principles that apply to Qi Deficiency also apply to phlegm and dampness. The following recommendations are for Eating for your Constituition.

The Type: Poor appetite, slight abdominal distension after eating, tiredness, lassitude, pale complexion, feeling of weakness, loose stools, slight depression, tendency to obesity, abdominal fullness, feeling of heaviness, sticky taste, poor digestion, undigested food in stools, nausea, dull frontal headache, excessive vaginal discharge.  With phlegm, may have nausea, vomiting of watery fluids, feeling of oppression in the chest, cold limbs.

Eat: The emphasis is on making sure all foods are cooked and warm, and eating smaller portions at a time.

  • Grains: buckwheat, barley, rye, sourdough bread, caraway rye, pumpernickel, dry roasted oats
  • Veggies: corn, lettuce, celery, pumpkin, onion, shallots, garlic, turnip, watercress
  • Legumes: adzuki bean, broad bean,
  • Meat: quail, clam, lean meat
  • Other: horseradish, extra virgin olive oil, mustard
  • Spices: white/black pepper, clove, cardamom, nutmeg, dill, coriander, oregano, thyme, basil, ginger
  • Small amounts: sweet potato, kumara, potato, red and green tea
  • Phlegm Damp in the Lungs: bamboo shoots, watercress, radish, kelp, seaweed, turnip, shiitake mushroom, persimmon, pear, rice milk.

Avoid: avoid avoid fats, oils, dairy and sugar, late night meals, deep fried foods, and junk food

  • Meat: fatty meat, especially pork and duck, eggs
  • Dairy: ice cream (except raw goat’s milk and yogurt), butter
  • Fruits: avocado, raw and dried fruit, especially bananas and tropical fruits
  • Other: wheat, sugar and concentrated sweeteners, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, lard, margarine, chocolate, nuts and seeds (especially peanuts), salt, vinegar, beer
  • Phlegm Damp in the Lungs: fatty meat, eggs, bananas, avocado, pineapple, all dairy, sugar, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy sauce, nuts/seeds (peanuts), salt, coffee, alcohol, chocolate


Eating for your Constitution – Heat & Fire

Heat and fire, while they can be constitutional, can also be a part of inflammatory conditions.  If you have any type of inflammatory condition, this diet could be for you. The following information keeps the theme of Eating for you Constitution in mind.

The Type: High strung, stressed, anxiety, insomnia, absent mindedness, emotional extremes, nervousness, tension, dizziness, light headed, heart palpitations.

Eat: General principles when eating for fire and heat type conditions is to eat bitter, cool and pungent foods.  This is a case where raw foods can be beneficial to the body, unless accompanied by some sort of a deficiency.  Shorter cooking times can be used and one should cook with plenty of water or have soups and stews.  More liquids should be ingested in general.

  • Grains: millet, wheat, barley
  • Veggies: celery, spinach, swiss chard, cucumber, lettuce, radish, asparagus, eggplant, savoy and Chinese cabbage, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, alfalfa sprouts, kelp, spirulina
  • Fruit: tomato, apple, pear, watermelon
  • Meat: crab
  • Other: tofu, tempeh, soy milk, yogurt, mung bean

Avoid: deep fried foods, BBQ’d foods, roasting, overeating.

  • Spices: chilies, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper
  • Meat: red meat, especially lamb, chicken, prawns, mantis shrimp, eggs
  • Veggies: garlic
  • Other: horseradish, mustard, coffee, chocolate, heated vegetable oils, alcohol, vinegar, cheese, excessive salt, peanuts


In Chinese Medicine there are certain organs and systems that can easily contain heat.  Here are a few:

Stomach Heat: burning epigastric pain, sour regurgitation, nausea, vomiting soon after eating, excessive hunger, foul breath, feeling of heat.  ST Fire – burning epigastric pain, intense thirst with a desire to drink cold liquids, mental restlessness, bleeding gums, dry stools, dry mouth, mouth ulcers, sour regurgitation, + ST Heat signs.

  • Eat More: mucilaginous foods to cool, moisten and line the Stomach: rice, barley, millet or oat porridge, banana, avocado, cucumber, spinach, lettuce, arugula, watercress, cabbage, tofu, soy milk, yogurt

Liver Heat: irritability, propensity to outbursts of anger, tinnitus/deafness, temporal headache, dizziness, red face and eyes, thirst, bitter taste, dream0disturbed sleep, constipation with dry stools, dark yellow urine,  nose bleeding, easily bruising

  • Eat More: peppermint, mung beans and sprouts, celery, radish, daikon, kelp, lettuce, dandelion, cucumber, watercress, millet, tofu

Lung Heat: cough, slight breathlessness, feeling of heat, chest ache, flaring of nostrils, thirst, red face

  • Eat More: watercress, apple, pear, peach, strawberry, lemon, radish, carrot, pumpkin, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, swiss chard, white fungus (wood ear)

Blood Heat: bleeding syndromes, acne, itchiness, dysphoria, thirst

  • Eat more: cooling and hemostatic foods for bleeding: eggplant, spinach, swiss chard, persimmon, lemon, celery, lettuce, olive


Eating for your Constitution – Damp Heat

Dampness and heat often show up hand in hand in the body.

The Type: Fatigue, sore muscles, night sweating, low grade fever, body hot to touch, greasy skin, poor appetite, feeling of pressure in the epigastrium, heavy feeling in the head, abdominal distention, nausea, vomiting, sticky taste, thirst with no desire to drink, smelly loose stools.

Eat: Following protocols for both dampness and heat is beneficial, focusing on eating less, eating light and simple foods, ingesting some raw foods and juices, and eating plenty of lightly cooked leafy greens.

  • Grains: millet, wheat, barley
  • Legumes: adzuki beans, mung beans
  • Fruit: lemon, cranberry
  • Veggies: celery, carrot, spinach, swiss chard, eggplant, savoy and Chinese cabbage, tomato, broccoli, peas, cauliflower, asparagus, watercress, arugula, lettuce, radish, daikon, alfalfa sprouts
  • Other: tofu, tempeh, green and red tea, water
  • Small Amounts: olive oil, root veggies

Avoid: late night meals, deep fried foods, junk food, BBQ’d foods, roasting, overeating.

  • Spices: chilies, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper,
  • Meat: fatty meat, eggs, prawns, mantis shrimp
  • Other: garlic, alcohol, greasy or oily food, deep fried food, cheese, sugar, concentrated sweeteners, chocolate, junk food, nuts and seeds (esp. peanuts), mustard, horseradish, coffee, vinegar, excessive salt

Dampness and heat can also effect specific organs, here is a list of the most common:

Liver & Gallbladder: rib-side pain, fullness and distension, nausea, vomiting, inability to digest fats, yellow complexion, scanty and dark yellow urine, fever, thirst without the desire to drink, bitter taste, dizziness, irritability, feeling of heaviness in the body, numb limbs, foot swelling, burning urination difficulty urinating, excessive vaginal discharge, loose stools or constipation, alternating hot and cold feeling, feeling of heat, genital popular skin rash and itching, swelling and heat of the scrotum

  • Eat More: mung bean, mung bean and alfalfa sprouts, celery, kelp, lettuce, tofu, leafy greens, shiitake mushrooms, peppermint tea, chrysanthemum tea, dandelion tea

Bladder: frequent and urgent urination, burning urination, difficult urination (stopping in middle of flow), dark yellow or turbid urination, blood in urine, fever, thirst with no desire to drink, hypogastric fullness and pain, feeling of heat

  • Eat More: adzuki bean, mung bean, barley water, celery, asparagus, diluted lemon juice, cranberry juice, blueberries, watermelon, dandelion tea, green tea



Eating for your Constitution – Blood Stasis

Blood stasis is closely related to Qi Stagnation, and they too often show up hand in hand.  According to Chinese Medicine, Blood is the mother of Qi, and Qi is the motive force of the Blood.  This means many of the principles followed in Qi Stagnation are also followed in Blood stasis.

The Type: Pain that is fixed, stabbing, and may be severe, dark complexion, fixed masses, bleeding with clots, purple lips, nails and tongue.

Eat: Eat more foods that are ‘moving’ in nature, which often means they have some spice or heat in their nature.

  • Veggies: shallots, leeks, chives, garlic, taro, eggplant
  • Meat: crab
  • Spices: turmeric, ginger, basil, cayenne, nutmeg, oregano, rosemary, white pepper
  • Other: adzuki bean, chestnuts, red wine

Avoid: Processed foods, junk food, adulterated food, unnecessary drugs or intoxicants, eating under pressure or when upset, no skipping meals or overeating; avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and oils, excessive hot and pungent foods and cold or refrigerated foods, artificial or synthetic products.  Pay special attention to avoiding cold and raw foods that have the tendency to constrict circulation.

  • Veggies: salads and raw vegetable juices
  • Meats: red meats
  • Other: hot chilies, pepper, peppers, spirits, beer, white wine, preservatives, colourings, pharmaceuticals (as appropriate)
  • Damp Foods: diary, cheese, eggs, cream, ice cream, lard, shortening, margarine, nuts, pizza, French fries

Eating for your Constituiton can include appropriate herbs and spices.

Blood Stasis can manifest in numerous different ways, here are a few of the most common:

Blood Stasis & Heat in the Uterus: red eyes, bitter taste in the mouth, sore throat, rib side pain, dizziness, alternating cold and heat, gloomy affect, heavy uterine bleeding, often with a purplish colour and clots, fibroids, endometriosis.  This can lead to Blood Deficiency.

  • Eat More: eggplant, kelp, seaweed, black fungus (wood ears)

Anti Cancer: often times, Cancers are associated with Blood Stasis in Chinese Medicine.

  • Eat More: green tea, oolong tea, radish, ginger, pepper, vinegar, light salt, a little wine, watermelon, tomato, pears, water chestnuts, fungus of all kinds (mushrooms, wood ears, etc.), adzuki beans, lotus seeds, Chinese barley (job’s tears)

Soften Masses: masses, according to Chinese Medicine, are any abnormal growth that occurs in the body, from endometriosis and fibroids, to cancer and benign tumors.  As with anti-cancer foods, masses are also often associated with Blood Stasis.

  • Eating for you Constitution, those with masses can Eat More: crab, jellyfish, kelp, laver, mussels, clams, sea cucumber, abalone, hawthorn



Eating for your Constitution – Dryness

Dryness is generally not as common as Yin Deficiency, and the symptoms can be quite similar.  With Yin Deficiency, there are often accompanying signs of heat and fire, not just dryness.

The Type: Lung Dryness: dry cough, dry skin, dry throat, dry mouth, thirst, hoarse voice.  You should eat:

  • Grains: barley, millet
  • Veggies: black and white fungus
  • Fruit: pear, apple, banana
  • Meat: eggs, pork, herring
  • Dairy: small amounts, such as butter and yogurt
  • Other: tofu, tempeh, soy milk, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds

The Type: Stomach Dryness: dry mouth, constipation, feeling of fullness after eating, no appetite, epigastric pain.

  • Grains: barley, millet, rice, sweet rice, oats, roasted barley
  • Veggies: white fungus, asparagus, sweet potato, spirulina
  • Meat: Spanish mackerel, sardines
  • Other: mung beans, tofu, slippery elm powder

Avoid: hot, pungent, bitter and dispersing foods, especially tobacco, chilies, coffee, bitter melon, and lemon.


If you have any questions, please contact us. Remember, the food you eat is your best- and first line of defense against illness. By Eating by your Constitution you can avoid as well as ameliorate imbalances.



Caroline Prodoehl, R.TCMP, R.Ac



McLean, W. & Lyttleton, J. (2002).  Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine: The Treatment of Disease with Traditional Chinese Medicine: Volume 2: Spleen & Stomach.  University of Western Sydney, Australia.