In Chinese Medicine there are 5 seasons; winter, spring, summer, late summer, and autumn. Each of those seasons are represented with a different yin and yang organ, and each of those yin and yang organs will have different needs. Winter is the season that helps us focus on the element of water. When we think of water, we think of organs associated with governing water - our kidneys and bladder. This means that in the winter, we want to tonify and build up our kidneys, and in Chinese Medicine, the kidneys also include the bladder, bones, reproductive organs, adrenal glands, hair, and ears. So this means, winter is the time to nourish those parts of our body.
Winter in nature is cold, damp, and inactive, cold, and damp. What is happening in nature can help guide us as well. Winter is a time to rest, sleep, consolidate your Qi, and to be contemplative. It is the time to reserve and nourish your body with Qi to help you prepare for Spring which will be the time of new growth. Meditation, Qigong exercises, sleep, and certain food choices can help you fortify your Qi to maintain your state of wellness in the winter months.
There are certain foods that are often recommended to eat in the winter months to help build up your Qi in the winter season. Paul Pitchford, author of "Healing with Whole Foods" recommends these foods to nourish your kidneys in the winter months:
- root vegetables, like potatoes, beets, carrots
- beans, like kidney beans, string beans, black beans, soybean, sprouts
- berries, like blackberry, mulberry, blueberry, huckleberry,
- sardine, crab, clams
- eggs, pork, and cheese
- bone broth
In addition, there are often the recommendations on what things to minimize because it can damage the kidneys or drain the Qi in the kidneys; especially in the winter months:
- too much salt
- not enough water
- anything in excess
- prolonged & intense fear