Spleen Qi Diet – how to boost your metabolism and digestion
- Consume mostly organic vegetables, sauteed or lightly cooked.
- Eat beef, chicken, turkey, ham.
- Eat grains like rice, quinoa, oats.
- Eat squash, yams, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds unless you have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). While some fertility diets advocate it, massive yam consumption can actually delay or prevent ovulation if you have PCOS because the high starch and sugar content in yams impairs the glucose metabolism that occurs with this condition.
- Eat cherries, coconut, dates, figs, grapes, and mushrooms. It is helpful to eat fruits with nuts or yogurt, because it helps keep your blood sugar levels stable.
- Do not eat raw, cold foods. Don't consume ice-cold beverages, or put ice in your drinks. Avoid ice cream and popsicles. Don't eat food straight out of the refrigerator. In Chinese Medicine, your digestion is seen as a fire or oven. It has to kind of cook things in order to break them down and digest them. It takes more energy to digest raw, cold food and you receive less energy than you expend in digesting them. Soups, stews, and baked things are preferable.
- Avoid energetically cold fruits like mangos, watermelon, pears, and persimmons.
- Avoid damp creating foods like milk and milk products such as cheese or ice cream. There are options with goat, sheep, rice and almond milk that are worth trying. Goat and sheep's milk are more similar to human milk, and much easier to digest for most people.
- Do not eat refined carbohydrates like pasta or bread. Avoid any food made with white flour. Simple starches are converted to glucose immediately after ingestion and quickly spike the blood sugar, and quickly makes the blood sugar crash. In Chinese medicine it is said to damage the Spleen.
- Avoid sugar and sugar substitutes. Try a green apple, red currants, dark chocolate, or a kiwi if you want something sweet. Sometimes if you need a pick-me-up, a brisk walk outside will help you get more energy.
- Do not drink fruit juice...eat only whole fruits. Juice spikes your blood sugar because it lacks fiber. If you must have some juice every now and again, make sure to dilute it half and half with water.
- Spleen and stomach are at their strongest between 7-11am, so breakfast is important
- Spleen and stomach are at their weakest between 7-11pm, so better to have the last meal of the day before 7pm
- Chew your food thoroughly. Avoid drinking too much with your meals, instead drink more between meals. Water dilutes the stomach acid, and saliva contains enzymes that help you get more nutrition from your food, especially from grains. In Japan, some people chew up to 50 times with each bite. It may be bothersome at first, but after a while one gets accustomed to eating more slowly.
- Get adequate rest and sufficient exercise. Sleep is restorative and its healing properties cannot be underestimated. Swimming, yoga, tai chi are good options.
- Do not exercise excessively during menstruation. During menstruation, it is a good idea to rest, and take it easier. Enjoy a good book, watch an enjoyable film, write in a journal. If you need some exercise, gentle walking can be helpful.
- Perform meditative techniques to help relieve the mind of undue worry.
- Take a high quality probiotic and enzyme. Here's my favorite probiotic, and my favorite enzyme.
Here's a sample weekly meal plan:
You can get the full 27-page eBook with guidelines, 7-day meal plan, recipes, and shopping lists... designed to specifically support your spleen; based on my favorite recipes. Just click the link below to learn more.
I would love to see an example of a wkly meal plan…
I also would like to see an example of a weekly meal plan. tricia in Hawaii
Thank you for letting me know. This is a great idea and I’ve recently updated the article with a sample meal plan! I hope it’s helpful.
Very helpful. I’ve found following these recommendations are healing.
I’m so glad! Thanks for letting me know.
If you’re trying to avoid dairy – is goat and sheep milk or cheese not counted as dairy as well? how do you replace your calcium? Thanks!
Great question. Goat and sheep milk are generally better tolerated than cow’s milk, although it’s still best to minimize dairy. In my sample meal plan, for example, I include Greek yogurt for one lunch and goat cheese in one dinner — so still some dairy, but not nearly as much as in the standard American diet. Other excellent sources of calcium are beans and lentils, almonds, and leafy greens.
I’m thrilled to have found this. I also discovered Almond yogurt yesterday. Any insight on teas? I’m finding I have fewer beverage options and have been drinking watered down herbals (licorice, linden leaf).
Great question, Jackie! Warm tea is wonderful for the spleen. A few herbal teas that are especially supportive for it are: ginger, fennel, caraway, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, and turmeric. You may notice that many of these are ingredients in chai tea. You just want to avoid the sugar- and dairy- laden versions of chai. You’ll also notice that these are all very warming spices, which is why they’re like medicine for our digestion.
The meal plan above is too tiny to read for many people. Is there a larger version?
I’m sorry, I can’t make it bigger here on the blog, but if you email me I can send you the file and you’ll be able to zoom in.
hold the “Ctrl” key on your keyboard and than scroll in or out to make the size bigger or smaller.
Great tip, thank you for sharing!
thank you, nice tip!
Regarding no sugar advice, I have a habit of adding to my hot teas a little honey or real maple syrup (not sugar) with a little lemon juice – any problem with this, as I try to support my spleen which shows some small densities…?
Please, I beg of you, do not send me a continuing stream of emails from YOU or ANYONE ELSE!!!!!! I ALREADY know where to go for your fine website.
Hi Kathleen. Don’t worry, you won’t get emails from me or be added to any list just for commenting on this. I’d hate that too 🙂 You ask a great question. I think it’s great that you’re opting for honey or maple syrup instead of sugar. And in general, I’d say that a little bit is totally fine. The problem is that it can be a slippery slope, and you don’t want to start saying “just a little” at every single meal or snack – then you end up eating a lot of sugar over the day and taxing your spleen. But if you’re eating mostly veggies and protein and healthy fat, and low in sugars and high GI carbs and processed foods the rest of the time – then a little bit in your tea is absolutely fine! Thanks for asking!
My husband just found out he has an enlarged spleen and he didn’t know what he should eat the Dr didn’t tell him what to eat . I found your page and I like what you have for what he can eat and what to avoid but I was wondering if he will have this for the rest of his life it scares me I just want him to be better.
Hi Lori. Absolutely, it can improve. Sometimes peoples’ spleens can enlarge when they are fighting an infection, such as with Mono. And once the body has the infection handled and is recovered, the spleen can recover too.
Thanks for all the useful advise. I have a question regarding periods and how do they affect the function of the spleen? I had a goldstone blocking my biliary duct a couple of months ago and it somehow affected my spleen also. Since then my spleen hurts when I get my periods. Why is that? Thank you, Michaela
Wow, that is so interesting that you notice that connection. From a western medicine perspective, I don’t know if there is an explanation. From a Chinese medicine perspective, there is absolutely a relationship between your spleen and your periods. In TCM, one of the spleen’s functions is to make and store blood. However, it seems odd that your spleen would hurt. I’d recommend seeing an acupuncturist.
This was very interesting information! I’ve had a blood clot in my spleen and it healed but with quite a bit of calcification and scar tissue so I have a lot of chronic pain and on and off inflammation/ swelling of the spleen. There’s no way to heal that but I definitely don’t want to add any stress to it or make it any worse.
Hi my husband was diagnosed with CLL 6 mos ago. Oncology won’t recognize that changing his diet, his spleen is slightly enlarged, may help him stay in a non treatable state. I’m so glad o found this site and we will be trying this way of eating . Would you recommend acupuncture for his spleen health? We’ve been in a state of somewhat panic since the diagnosis .
Hi Michelle. Absolutely, I’d recommend acupuncture to support his spleen and to support him through treatments. It’s been well-studied and proven to really help.
My husband has also just been diagnosed with CLL a few days ago and the doctor didn’t even check his spleen! Is your diet working, because like you we are in total panic, hadn’t heard of this prior to his diagnosis and we are desperate.
If you have any tips you can pass on I would be so grateful and hope your husband is still fighting off any treatment.
Yogurt on the list to eat? Isn’t cold food and dairy?
Hi Vilma. This is a good question. I think a little bit of yogurt is ok because it has some good probiotics in it (although it’s far better to supplement with a high quality probitoic than to rely on yogurt for this). But because it’s cold and is dairy, I don’t love it as a regular staple in the diet, especially not first thing in the morning. In moderation, I think it’s ok.
Aloha from Hawaii 🙂 I was wondering what the “Buddha Bowl” consists of.
Aloha! Yes – good question, I should clarify. It’s a bowl of rice and various cooked veggies, often with a soft boiled egg and sometimes with a protein like salmon or chicken. It’s basically a warm, cooked, nourishing bowl of goodness :o)
Hi. I have bad breath issues for years. But my teeth & gum are still in good condition. Should be my organs. How can i improve in this aspect? What food to eat in your recommendation? Tq.
Hi Derek. We think of bad breath as “stomach heat”, so eating foods that are cooling can be beneficial. As opposed to a Spleen Qi diet, with stomach heat w will want to focus on eating more raw, fresh veggies.
is pastured organic eggs and grass fed milk and dairy also not good for the spleen?
they are so nutritious that its a shame to take it out of the diet?
Hi Rachel. Great question. Eggs are good for the spleen primarily because they are a warm breakfast, and eating warm/cooked food is easier to digest and less taxing on the spleen. As for milk, in Chinese Medicine think it can be hard on the spleen and digestion.
Hello, since the spleen does better without cold foods, why do you have two salads listed in your menu above?
Good question, I’m glad you asked! It’s because those “salads” have warm/cooked foods in them, making them way better for the spleen and digestion.