Photo by Dan Gold
Originally Posted On: https://www.taosexperience.com/secrets-taoist-diet.html
Today, everything seems to be placed in two categories “Good” and “Bad”. We have good people and bad people, good fats and bad fats. In Taoist times, things were much simpler, the new Taoist who, in order to lead a healthy and happy life, had to be non-judgmental and live in harmony with nature.
So what does it mean to live in harmony with nature?
Nature has given everything needed to live a good life and healthy life, but many of us just don’t listen to nature anymore. Today, the wealth of Gaia has been replaced by processed foods or those that are do not digest well. Well, excuse me if I’m wrong, but Aspartame and MSG are not natural products, so totally against what nature means but most of us consume these toxic substances daily. The food industry is against everything the Taoist believes in that is healthy for body and spirit and does not teach people to be responsible for what they consume, how much they consume. Many customers are not aware of what additives they are consuming in their favorite “restaurants”.
I do not suggest that you make such a drastic change in your nutritional habits that you eliminate all processed or non-organic foods but is it not time to start to think about the relationship between your health and happiness and the fuel that you put in your body to accomplish this. Many health nuts will expect this drastic type of change and will launch all the scientific research they can find to justify your change. However, like all things relating to the dao there is not right or wrong, good or bad, but the practice of a spirituality by living it in your every day life. To do this successfully diet plays an important role.
The traditional Taoist diet consisted mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, with little meat and NO cereals – as the belief was during the digestive process, demonic creatures will be released from the rotting grains in your stomach and they will try to eat you from the inside out. In the more contemporary period, the diet has changed somewhat, relying mainly on the acceptance of whole grains, as well as the fresh vegetables and fruits which are traditional.
The Taoist diet links the five basic flavors from the elements of nature: salt (water), sweet (earth), bitter (fire), spicy (metal), sour (wood). Just like a daoist lifestyle should be balanced the thought is that being greedy or putting a flavor on one pedestal above another prevents you from tasting the oneness, so it is important to balance the aromas to achieve internal harmony. Taoism refers to threads, and human beings are part of nature. One of the most important beliefs is to “eat only real food” – that is, avoid artificial items which cannot be processed by the body or which may have unbalanced flavors, like medicines, artificial additives, etc. Highly processed foods that have little or no nutritional value, such as white flour, sugar and fast food, are also considered inedible and cause disharmony and imbalance. These are not things that the body was designed to consume, they do not grow naturally from the earth; therefore, they are not really natural “foods” suitable for human consumption.
In more recent times, the typical diet has changed radically to focus mainly on cereals, rather than practicing total grain abstention. Although some radical Taoists claim never to eat grain, they are mostly ridiculed by the media and found to be “hungry” for attention, rather than living a true ancient Taoist style. The modern Taoist diet essentially respects the basic theory of yin-yang and the 5 elements, it relies heavily on unprocessed whole grains, fresh vegetables and very little meat. It is important for vegetables to be consumed at the right times and to be steamed or fried. Boiling is considered to remove the natural goodness. Fruits are to be consumed fried or dry, and the consumption of tropical harvested fruits is unacceptable, because their generally rich, strong sweet or sour flavors will cause unbalance to the five elements or nature – especially tropical citrus based fruits. It is also important that they are seasonal and have no human intervention if consumed..
In general, all red and blue meats, including pork, snails, rabbits and the like should be avoided at all costs. Birds, game birds and fish can be eaten but in moderation. However, fish and other seafood should be consumed only once a week, due to the large amount of Yin. Some fish such as salmon, mackeral, swordfish, and shark, which are very Yin, should be completely avoided.
Smoking, alcohol, and caffeine are frowned upon because of its refined nature. The modern Taoist trusts moderation in his eating habits and should avoid consuming something very fiery and stay away from as many preservatives as possible.
So what does a Taoist suggest to eat?
Well, the key word here is simplicity; for simplicity, it means as close to natural as possible. Every time you eat something, ask yourself this question: ‘how close is this food to how I would find it naturally?’ A short check of the ingredients if it is packaged and you can tell instantly if it is natural or how unnatural it is.
Keep your stimulants to a minimum – this includes sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and medicines. Seventy percent of your diet should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables. The other thirty percent must consist of about twenty percent organic seafood or meats and ten percent should be made up of natural fats found in seed or nuts. Remember to drink pure mineral water or purified water- stay away from tap water which generally has chloride and fluoride added.