Ask Grand Master Nan Lu: Raw vs. Cooked?


I have always preferred to eat crunchy, raw vegetables over cooked, mushy ones, but lately I’m having a hard time digesting the raw vegetables. In addition, I’ve been very tired. Could you explain why this is, from a TCM perspective?



Many people eat raw vegetables to ensure they are getting all of the vitamins and nutrients from the food. Yes, it is true that when you cook a vegetable you lose a little of these properties. However, TCM looks beyond food’s physical properties, to its energy dimension. Vegetables have a cold essence. If you continually eat raw vegetables and cold salads, your body will use up more energy or healing Qi to digest them. You will also eventually unbalance your Stomach’s function.

Your Stomach loves warm–both in temperature and essence. After vegetables are cooked, even lightly, they will be easier to digest. After eating raw foods for so long, you’ve likely created an added strain on your digestive system. So, next time, try to trade out the raw vegetables for cooked vegetables instead. Don’t fear–cooking doesn’t have to mean boiling the vegetable until it is mushy! Instead, you might try lightly sauteing carrots and green beans with olive oil, fresh garlic and fresh ginger. Or, you might blanch spinach or roast beets vegetables to warm their essence and give your digestive system some additional TLC.

But don’t stop with your vegetables! Toast nuts, cook apples with cinnamon, and drink warming ginger and turmeric tea. All year long, but especially now that the seasons are beginning to turn, ensure that everything you put into your body is warm–both foods and drinks. Giving the body warmth means you doesn’t have to use your own Qi to heat the foods prior to digestion. Instead, your Qi can be used for healing. Switching to this way of eating and drinking alone will improve your digestion immensely. You might be pleasantly surprised at how energized you feel.

Learn more!

Interested in learning more about how to support your body as the seasons change? Read these posts to learn more!

Two Ways to Look at Cold: Temperature and Essence

Warm vs. Cold: What Your Body Craves

“Digest” These Tips for a Healthy Metabolism

Warm eating is part of our eating-for-healing plan in Dragon’s Way Qigong. Check it out!

Need some cooking ideas? Check out our recipes!