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Chinese Confinement Food Recipes (UK)

Chinese confinement recipes

A Background on Chinese Confinement
Chinese confinement is a practice that has been ingrained in Chinese culture for thousands of years. From pregnancy to giving birth, a woman's body uses up a lot of nutrition to grow the baby and birthing the baby is believed to weaken the body further and therefore there is a need to recuperate through bedrest and eat nourishing food during the postpartum period. This confinement period typically last for 30-40 days right after the baby has been delivered.  

Confinement food should rebalance the Yin and Yang of the body. From a Western view, this is ensuring the PH balance of alkaline and acid levels. Too much of either will create an imbalance and therefore lead to ill health.  

Steps for Chinese Confinement
Apart from eating confinement food and taking bedrest, it's also important to restrict the body from catching 'wind' and finding ways to expel it. The meaning of wind is not the literal meaning of gas in the body, but rather, it's a cold energy inside (the Yin) which is what makes a body 'weak'. Ways to expel wind and not gain any more includes bathing with boiled and cooled down ginger water, avoid using raw tap water where possible, limit hair washing, wear socks to keep feet warm, and avoid opening windows to let cold air into the home. 

1) Eat 3 confinement meals per day, along with soup if possible
2) Rest in bed and avoid doing housework  
3) Bath with boiled and cooled down ginger water every few days (wipe down on non bath days)
4) Limit washing hair to once a week and use boiled cooled down ginger water 
5) Keep head and feet warm so wind can't enter the body 
6) Avoid opening windows or stepping outside

Of course, in our modern times and depending on your own circumstances, it may not be practical to follow all these steps, so do what is comfortable and doable for you. 

I really couldn't stick with not washing my hair, it drove me crazy so I ended up washing it every 4 days or so. We also needed to make a few trips to the hospital for baby's jaundice so I just wrapped myself up warm as much as I could. Having a January baby meant very cold winds and it's was hard to not expose myself to it. I stuck to a regular breakfast of toast/bread product/banana, and only ate confinement meals for lunch and dinner. 

Planning for Confinement Food
Due to COVID19, I knew I wouldn't be able to have my family over from Hong Kong to help so I made a list of all the confinement meals that I would be cooking and I was quite interested in learning how to make everything from scratch too.

In Hong Kong, you can hire confinement ladies to help out with all the cooking and looking after baby, which is what my sister in law did. She had this very helpful list on what to eat and what not to eat, so I based my meals around this.  

Interestingly, confinement food really varies depending on where you live. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and different parts of China all has their own take on what you can and can't eat and it sure added to the confusion when I was researching it. I decided to stick with the list my sister in law used (Hong Kong) for main meals, but I wasn't super strict and still ate Western food and snacked away on crisps and chocolate. 

Chinese confinement recipes

Week 1-3
The first few weeks focuses on food that is easy to digest. For natural births stick to this for the first 2 weeks and for caesareans, the first 3 weeks. 

1) Meals need to be mainly steamed, low in salt and low in oil
2) Avoid soya sauce, eggs, beef to help with scar healing
3) Avoid cold or raw foods to stop 'wind' from entering the body
4) Stick to chicken, pork and fish as the protein element of the meals
5) Whilst bleeding is still happening down below, do not eat ginger, red dates or red beans as they are foods that help with blood circulation and replenishment 

Below are the types of food I had for lunch/dinner. I will add links to the recipes for these as I publish them.

Chinese confinement recipes
Steamed pork patty with rice and cabbage, with a dollop of oyster sauce for flavour.

Chinese confinement recipes
Steamed chicken with spring onion and rice. Lotus and peanuts are leftovers from soup. 

Chinese confinement recipes

Chinese confinement recipes

Week 4-6
From week 3 for natural births or from week 4 for caesareans onwards, you're able to enjoy a bit more variety and your digestive system is better at taking a little more salt if you like salty food like me.

1) Meals can now be pan fried and stir fried, rather than just steamed but keep to low oil
2) You can start to eat soya sauce and eggs again
3) Still avoid cold or raw foods
4) Start to eat ginger, red dates, red beans and any foods that help with blood circulation and replenishment
5) Introduce collagen such as pigs trotters, fish maw, birds nest, snow ear fungas and enrichment foods like ginseng and dong quai

Along with the confinement meals from week 1-3, I made these meals too which I will add links to the recipes as I publish them.

Chinese confinement recipes

Chinese confinement recipes

Chinese confinement recipes
Ginger wine chicken, a signature confinement food. One that you can start to eat daily now. 

Chinese confinement recipes
Ginger black vinegar pigs trotters with eggs, eaten with rice. This is perhaps the most famous of confinement foods. A small bowl every day eaten with rice. I would sometimes have this on it's own as a snack or a small bowl along with ginger wine chicken and rice. 


I'll be sharing the recipes for all these dishes soon, so remember to check back!



1 comment

  1. All the dishes looked so good! I’m having similar food too! For my confinement meals I booked a confinement delivery Singapore service from Tian Wei Signature, they basically deliver fusion & Chinese confinement food to my home daily. I do find having confinement food helpful for my recovery and lactation, and surprisingly I find them tasty too. Wishing you a smooth recovery, Lucy. Looking forward to your next blog!

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