The Kitchen of Five Changes

In the majority of diet and feeding systems the emphasis is on the selection of foods. But the Diet of Five Changes is exceptional: the point is not what we eat, but the sequence in which we add individual ingredients during preparation of dishes and when we eat.

The theory of Five Changes is part of a  traditional Chinese  medicine that dates back to a few thousand years. The basis of it is the concept of the so-called five elements (xing). They are: wood, fire, earth, metal and water– also known from feng shui, an art of  harmonious  planning of space. Xing Has many meanings: it is translated as  „elements”, but also as „phases”; the basic part of it is its dynamic character. Therefore, not only elements as such count here, but their transformations. The most important  rule is the principle of movement  which governs the cyclical changes, as well as mutual overlapping of all the parts of the Universe. In effect of this principle is in particular the fact that phenomenon in Nature repeat  – e.g. the sequence of seasons in the year. Spring, summer, fall and winter correspond to the following transformations: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

Apart of the seasons , the law of cyclic  transformations governs also  the day’s time, phases of life, man’s organs, emotions, tastes, colors or foods [1]. It also influences the  macrocosm and microcosm, that is the human body [2].  Everybody has a different  proportion of five elements; usually one is dominating in us. Our personality,  style of life and aptitudes are also connected to the year’s seasons and the elements [3].

In effect of these permanent changes, a dynamic equilibrium occurs. All disturbances – including diseases – occur in the consequence of its violence, when one or the other element starts to be excessively dominant. The purpose of a good way of life is thus establishing proper relations between the elements, as well as a proper cycle of transformations.

Nothing in the Universe exists by itself, but instead is an integral part of the whole; therefore in the kitchen, just like in life, what counts is not individual components  but the way they are combined together.  During cooking a dish we should add the ingredients in a definite order so that one element can support the other – our purpose is  harmony on the plate and in life. Five Changes is thus not only kitchen – it is a way to achieve equilibrium for oneself.

The purpose is to compose diet which comprises all five  elements, represented by five tastes:


         fire (sour),

         earth (sweet),

         metal (hot),

         water (salt),

         wood (bitter) [4].


The majority of dishes  contains more than just one taste; the exception is earth (sweet taste) – because it does not need to be balanced, and sweets can be eaten separately  (nevertheless, it cannot dominate the  diet). As we have already said, the order of adding individual components  and spices is significant as it should reflect  the cycle of transformations in the Nature. Therefore, if we begin from Water Transformation, Wood must appear, followed by Fire, Earth and Metal, and finally Water. Before adding another component you should stir the dish and wait for a while – this will guarantee an addition of energetic power to the meal.

Apart from the five transformations, two more basic rules,  yin and yang also influence the quality of a meal. The first one symbolizes wetness and cold, passiveness, subversion, sadness, Winter, female aspect of nature, while the other – warm and dryness, strength, activity, joy, summer and masculine aspect  of nature. Each component, despite representing one of the five tastes, comprises different ratios of  yin and yang, and works as a cooling, warming or  neutral agent. The balance of  yin and yang in dishes is  achieved due to proper selection of components , as well as their processing: baking, frying, drying add yang to our dishes; while boiling in big quantity of water  adds yin.

Also important for our menu structure is the time during a day, as it is connected with  functioning of inner body organs. According to the rule of clock of organs each  organ has two hours per day in which it is best adapted to energy and performs its function especially well [5]. Each transformation is ascribed to particular organs; preparing a certain dish, we can strengthen it.

The balanced diet also requires adjusting to the year’s season, as e.g. summer is yang, and winter is yin [6]. Each season of the year needs a different level of activity  – and thus a separate  diet, as the following list shows:


Spring – transformation of Wood; it is time of renewal, time for learning of the  organism; new ideas appear and a will to act originates in us, we can thus feel an inflow of energy. It is the best time to ensure proper functioning of  the liver,

Summer – transformation of Fire; it is time for activity; we can live more intensively, and can limit the duration of our sleep,

Fall – transformation of Metal; it is time to calm down; in fall we must care for balance, relaxation and more sleep. This serves well to our lungs and endurance,

Winter – transformation of Water; it is time to slow down, limit our activity; take your time to  regenerate and renew energy as well prepare yourself  for a new cycle of activity – you must relax just like plants rest under the cover of snow,

dojo– a transitory period between the year’s season, it lasts ca. 18 days; we can feel  less concentrated.


Although the diet of Five Transformations originated in China, its rules can be applied to any meal in any kitchen worldwide; moreover, it is strongly recommended because proper diet should be adjusted to year’s seasons where we live. In our climate sphere particularly harmful is  cooling; we should control  it even in summer. In Winter and fall we should absolutely avoid dishes that cool. Most beneficial for the organism are boiled dishes, eaten warm. In the original Chinese version of Five Transformation diet, milk products are  treated as yini cool; in the case of boiled vegetables,  it is just the same. It does not mean that we should give them up: in The Five Transformation kitchen one does not have to strictly observe its principles but ought to be able to compose balanced meals from products available in one’s  geographic region.

One must also take into consideration individual  demand for individual components connected with the age and type of personality. Most of all, we should avoid extremes – no single taste or warming  products must dominate in our diet. Although we can freeze food prepared at home, we should avoid frozen food from big markets – such food is “dead”, with no energy in it [7]. Microwave ovens should not be used at all as they destroy the internal structure in food and disturb its nutrition quality [8]. A regular gas oven or ceramic plate are better.

Do not use metal vessels for storing food, especially with scratched enamel surface or rusted surfaces. It is not recommended to store food in  plastic containers, especially milk products. White steel cans are okay [9]. Vessels can be washed, instead with detergent, in hot water with addition of soda (30 g soda per 1 liter of water).

You should begin your day with a glass of warm water (Ayurveda medicine gives a similar piece of advice). An optimum number is  three meals per day. You should eat slowly, chew every piece; concentrate on what you eat, eliminate all other activities – do not talk, do not read, do not watch TV.

As followers of this diet confirm, the dishes prepared according to the principles of Five Transformations are more delicious because all their components are better harmonized as far as all tastes go. Moreover, they help keep proper  weight of the body [10]: if the food we eat is well-balanced, we feel full for a longer time and we do not want to eat again too soon. Individual components are better digested; food well adapts to the needs of the organism and the year’s season has in fact qualities of a cure. The additional calming factor is meditation. At first we may think we spend too much time for cooking our meals, but with gaining practice we will  spend almost the same amount of time on it as in the traditional kitchen, i.e. ca. 30-40 minutes every day.


The following list shows transformations and the products connected with them:













protects juices in body, directs them inside and  downwards


stimulates metabolism, directs downwards



and nutrition, harmonizes


oswobadza, kieruje w górę i na zewnątrz


przełamuje zastój, wzmacnia kości, kieruje w głąb




heart and small bowel


and stomach

płuca i jelito grube

nerki i pęcherz



wheat, kuskus,

rye, millet grounds

sweet rice, grounds

owies, ryż brązowy, jęczmień



blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries, cranberries, sauer apples, mandarins, oranges, black currants, strawberries, pineapple, lemon, kiwi,

elder berry, grapefruit, quince

sweet apples , peaches,  raisins, plums, bananas, cherries,

pears,  almonds, nuts, seeds of  sun flower, raisins




parsley, plant sprouts , sauer cabbage,  bean mung sprouts, tomatoes,

Brussels sprouts, red beet, endywia,  ice salad,    rucola, green salad

brokul, cukinia, eggplant, beans asparagus,   sweet potatoes, fried onion, pumpkin,  reen peas,  white and red cabbage, carrot, potatoes, cucumber,  sweet pepper, celery

cebula surowa i dymka, chrzan, por, rzepa czarna, rzepa biała, rzeżucha, rzodkiewki

fasola, groch, soczewica, soja czarna i żółta, ciecierzyca, fasola mung, oliwki


chicken, duck

lamb, grilled meat

veal , beef

dziczyzna, gęś, indyk, królik

ryby, salami, szynka surowa, mięso peklowane, wędzone, solone

i suszone, wieprzowina


cherry juice, tea from hibiscus,  melissa, bread acid,

wheat beer, champagne,

white vine,

sparkling vine

bitter liqueur, hot and red vine, brandy, black and cereal coffee, black,  Pu-Erh and green teas beer ,

tea, likier, honey, portwine, vegetable juice, soya milk

alkohole wysokoprocentowe, wino ryżowe, herbata z mięty

woda mineralna



fresh: basilia,  oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage,


dried: junipers, fenu greek,  curcuma, poppy seeds

cinnamon; sugar, honey, olive oil, vanilla, oils: pumpkin, rape, soya

pieprz cayenne, chili, curry, czosnek, imbir, pieprz, anyż, bazylia, estragon, gałka muszkatołowa, gorczyca, goździki,  cardamom,  kminek, calendar, koper,

liść laurowy, lubczyk majeranek, oregano (suszone), rozmaryn (suszony), szczypiorek, tymianek(suszony)

sos sojowy, sól

Milk Products

kefir, milk, cottage cheese, sauer cream, yogurt

milk and goat cheese

cow milk, eggs butter

sery pleśniowe, parmesan



An exemplary recipe  for coffee:

•         G – bitter

•         S – sweet

•         O – hot

•         Sł – salt

•         K – sauer




G – water

S – cinnamon

O – ginger, cloves

Sł – salt

K – lemon

G –  natural coffee


Preparation  (two cups of coffee):


G – pour 2 and a half glasses of water and boil it,

S – add a teaspoon of cinnamon, stir


Attention: between adding consecutive ingredients wait ca. 1-2 minutes!

O – add half teaspoon of ginger and 4 cloves,

Sł – add salt,

K – add a drop of lemon juice,

G – add two spoons of coffee.


Boil for ca. 5 minutes. Sweeten with honey  – it will be good for your stomach.


There is a variety of guidelines on Five Transformation diet on the Polish market; they differ in some details of the diet. No wonder, this kitchen does not recommend one canonical set of rules to be copied and obeyed. The rules are necessary mostly for the beginners; they should help adaptation to a new diet. This stage can be difficult as one must give up old habits and master a number of new detailed principles. However, you will soon be able to rely on your own feeling and even introduce certain modifications. Five Transformations is art and adventure – certain rules must be obeyed  but for those who gain experience all interpretations are open for creative action [11].

Quote for today

Your body weight depends on your mind The mind is a key to solving the problem of obesity (or anorexia). (...) You will not be able to control your diet, overeating  (or anorexia), unless you are able to control the state of your mind. (s. 294)
Diet and health (…) do not stick to a strict diet – instead eat well. This will suffice zn – both for the healthy body and soul. (s. 244)
Eliminate stress (…) elimination of stress is equal to the process of recovery. (s. 50)
Care for the present time The past does not hide anything interesting. Release yourself from it and live in the present time. (s. 304)
Consciousness and health The body without consciousness is healthy.  Healthy consciousness transfers the disease to the body. (s. 262)
Rationality in work Work is well done when you do not feel exhausted with it after its completion (s. 117)
Love Only someone  filled with love lives to the fullest of live. Mind you, those in love are usually healthy Or even symptoms of diseases in them vanish. Love is the main basis of health. (s. 182)
Power of the mind We are not aware of the power of our minds, of our capabilities and that it needs only little will power to use them. All you have to do is use principle of concentration of power, i.e. learn how to distinguish import ant matters from trivial ones and  do not seek  problems where they do not exist. (s. 72)
Desires of the mind The mind always desires something it cannot achieve. The more we possess, the more we feel deprived. (s. 287)
Happiness Happiness is the  state of consciousness that can occur only during the processing of complex information. Thus, you wahe to develop your spirit and your senses – in  this way we can earn more possibilities to feel happiness. (s. 39)

Witold Bońkowski Foundation. The Power and Paradoxes of Our Minds.

KRS 0000462513
NIP 781-188-51-77
REGON 302432119

Read that book

Unimaginable: The Power and Paradoxes of Our Minds deals with the unusual power of the mind. The fundamental motive of this book is trust in power and capabilities of the human mind in combating diseases, stress and worries.

Książka Niewyobrażalne. Potęga i paradoksy naszych umysłów