Nutrition Guidelines for Cold Accumulation

According to TCM theory, cold can invade the body and become stuck in the channels, causing pain where the cold is obstructing the flow of blood and energy (Qi). To resolve this pattern, the channels must be warmed, and the cold expelled from the body.

The digestive process can be compared to a pot of soup sitting over a fire. The body’s metabolic “fire” cooks the ingested food, which makes it easier for the body to extract nutrients from it and convert it into energy. So, when cold has accumulated in the body, it is especially important to eat cooked, warming foods. Eating smaller meals more frequently, sitting down to relax while you eat, and chewing thoroughly to savor the flavours, also improve the digestive process.

For cold accumulation, the ratio of food groups should be as follows:

40% easily digested complex carbohydrates like grains and root vegetables

30-40% cooked vegetables

10-20% protein

Foods that Expel Cold

cooked grains, soups, baked or roasted food, rice oats, roasted barley, sweet rice

onions, leeks, garlic, chives, spring onions, parsnips, peas, turnip, baked vegetables

chickpeas, black beans, chestnuts

lamb, beef, chicken

mackerel, tuna, anchovy, prawns, mantis, shrimp

dry ginger, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, fresh ginger, rosemary, turmeric, star anise, nutmeg

molasses, rice syrup, barley malt, dates

Foods to Restrict or Avoid

raw vegetables, raw fruit, citrus, wheat grass, sprouts, salads, tomatoes, spinach, swiss chard, soybeans, tofu, soy milk, dairy, nut butters, high oil foods


refined sugar, vinegar, high doses of vitamin C


cold foods like ice cream or smoothies, iced drinks



Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine, Vol. 2. MacLean & Lyttleton. University of Western Sydney: Australia. 2002.

Chinese Dietary Therapy. Liu, J. Churchill Livingston: Edinburgh.1995.

The Healing Cuisine of China. Zhao & Ellis. Healing Arts Press: Vermont. 1998



This factsheet is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is meant to complement rather than substitute for a consultation with a qualified TCM practitioner.