The old saying goes ‘you are what you eat’. But have you ever considered that you might also be how you eat and when you eat? And what should you be eating anyway?
Now there are about a million different diets out there and I have no intention of adding another one to your repertoire. We know that ‘diets’ mostly don’t work anyway.
But there are some principles of Chinese dietary therapy that continue to hold relevance after thousands of years and I’d like to introduce them to you here.
Essentially there are three main principles – what, when and how you eat is important.
According to Chinese philosophy food, like everything in the universe (including us) has an energetic quality to it. I don’t mean the energetic value of the food in the Western sense (i.e. how many calories it contains), but its energetic property or value – the nature of its energetic force. What we in the business call ‘Qi’.
Our own energetic health is dependent on the genes we inherit, the environment in which we live, the quality of the air we breathe, the water that we drink and the food that we put into our body.
Essentially we want to eat food that has strong Qi – i.e. that is varied, packed full of nutrients and doesn’t contain any nasty stuff.
Research has shown that the most important factor in the health outcomes of populations around the world regarding diet is who made our food. Bread made in a factory? It won’t be as good for you as bread made at home. Lasagne came in a packet? It won’t be as good for you as the one made by your dad.
And as much as you can, eat fresh, organic, free-range etc. But we’re all on a budget and it’s not always possible. So as a minimum? Just try to make sure a person has made your dinner.
It’s full of sugar, salt, unrecognisable ingredients (any more than five ingredients listed on the back of a packet should make you think twice) and won’t provide you with the boundless energy we all hope to experience.
For all the fads I’ve read about the one that consistently holds its own is the Mediterranean diet. It’s pretty simple – eat lots of vegetables, healthy fats, lean protein plus a bit of what you fancy from time to time.
Why does it work? Your guts like lots of different fibrous vegetables, your muscles need protein, your brain needs some carbohydrate and your soul loves the occasional chocolate brownie. Sugar isn’t good for us but it’s ok to eat a small amount of it every so often. Fat is not your enemy. No food is your enemy.
Don’t leave anything out.
In our family we have every day and sometimes foods. Nothing is out of bounds. It’s just how much we eat of them.
Except maybe bubble gum flavoured ice-cream – I mean what’s that all about?
Find out more about ‘when to eat‘ in part II.
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