Cool Cat or Hot Dog? Finding Balance with Food Energetics
“Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
What is Food Energetics?
Food energetics is the concept that specific foods can alter the flow of energy within the body, with either cooling or warming effects. These warming or cooling properties can be used to bring balance to the body, and to promote healing or aid various bodily processes.
This concept comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine, where diet is used as prevention and treatment of diseases and ailments. The goal is to harmonize the flow of Yin (which is cooling) and Yang (which is warming) through foods which contain these same properties. Through observation, ancient scholars discovered that foods had predictable physiologic and metabolic effects on the body. They named these effects “food energetics.” Foods are classified into four categories: cooling, neutral, warming, and hot. We will be focusing on the foods which may be found in our pet’s diet.
So, what observations led to their discovery of food energetics? Initially, ancient scholars observed the human body and how it was affected by various stimuli such as food, herbs, and the environment. Then, they observed how animals and fish behaved, how plants grew, and how they all interacted in natural environments. For example, some fish live in the deepest, darkest, coolest depths of the lake; whereas, some fish live more toward the surface. The fish at the bottom of the lake prefer cooler temperatures and are less active. Conversely, the fish at the top of the water more towards the surface, they prefer warmer temperatures and are more active.
Can you guess which fish would be considered “cooling”? That’s right, the fish who is less active and prefers colder water.
Is your pet hot or cold?
Some signs that a pet may be “hot” and could benefit from a cooling diet include:
- Seeking out cool places to rest, rather than a bed or crate
- Panting when it’s not warm out, or seems inappropriate
- Red, itchy eyes or skin issues like rashes or hot spots, or other allergy issues
- They may be anxious, easily aroused or seem generally restless
Some signs that a pet may be “cold” and could benefit from a warming diet include:
- Joint or other inflammation issues like arthritis
- Asthma or breathing difficulties
- Poor appetite or a generally low energy
- Urinary or digestive issues like IBD
Your pet may not fall under these “hot” or “cold” categories. Even for pets which do not suffer from any apparent imbalances, providing a diet which is more cooling or warming can be used to provide a seasonal balance. For example: on a cold winter day, we seek out foods which give a feeling of warmth and comfort, rather than foods which are light and refreshing.
These foods can be used in combination with other foods to provide variety, or ease the harshness of a very cooling or warming diet.
- Meat: Beef, Bison, Tripe, Pork, Goose, Quail
- Fish: Herring, Mackerel, Salmon, Sardine, Sturgeon, Tuna
- Vegetables: Beans, Peas, Pumpkin, Yam, Cabbage, Carrot, Potato
- Fruits: Papaya, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Raspberry
- Grains: Brown and White Rice, Lentils, Rye
- Other: Chicken Eggs, Cow’s Milk, Flax Seeds, Peanut
These foods will cool pets with hot properties, providing relief of allergies and skin irritations
- Meat: Duck, Rabbit
- Fish: Cod, Crab, Clam, Whitefish
- Vegetables: Bamboo, Celery, Cucumber, Kelp, Lettuce, Mushroom, Seaweed
- Fruits: Apple, Banana, Cranberry, Mango, Pear, Strawberry, Watermelon
- Grains: Barley, Buckwheat, Millet, Wheat, Wild Rice
- Other: Duck Eggs, Flaxseed Oil, Peppermint
These foods will warm pets with cold properties, providing relief of arthritis and digestive issues
- Meat: Chicken, Pheasant, Turkey
- Fish: Anchovy, Mussell, Shrimp
- Vegetables: Black Bean, Squash, Sweet Potato
- Fruit: Cherry, Date, Peach
- Grains: Oats, Sorghum
- Other: Coconut, Basil, Cinnamon, Ginger, Goat’s Milk, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Turmeric
These are the most intensely warming foods, and care should be taken that these foods are not overly used, even in cold dogs
- Meat: Lamb, Venison
- Fish: Trout
Using food energetics to heal your pet
The key here is balance. Having a “hot” dog doesn’t mean your pet should only eat “cold” foods. After all, variety is also important in a healthy, balanced diet. These classifications act as a guide to equalize your pet’s energy through diet. Reducing the foods which share the same energy as your pet, and increasing foods with an opposite energy will help to create that balance.