In the final part of this series I will look at the idea ‘you are how you eat’.
Mindfulness is the buzz word at the moment. You can apply the principle of mindfulness to every aspect of your life and eating is no different. It’s really just about paying attention. Paying attention to what you put on your plate and what you put in your mouth. You can take it to the extreme by savouring every mouthful and chewing each bite 72 times (yawn).
Or to make it easier just try to make sure you sit down to eat and don’t do anything else whilst you’re doing it.
Your stomach is a warm place that needs to stay warm to efficiently digest the food you eat. If you put something very cold in there it takes extra effort to warm that food up before it can be properly digested. This wastes valuable energy. And if there is an existing imbalance or weakness in your digestive system it can be difficult for your body to take nourishment from these foods. As a result your digestive system becomes further weakened.
So keep raw and cold foods to summer time and make sure you include lots of porridge, soups and stews in your diet.
The great thing about being mindful of what we eat is that once we start listening to our bodies we find that it will tell us what’s working and what isn’t.
IBS flares up after eating a curry? You’ve probably got some heat in your intestines so should avoid spicy foods.
Feel tired after eating a bowl of pasta? You might not be processing sugars too well.
But in the weird world of being a human being we often crave things that are not actually what we need.
From a Chinese medicine point of view this tells me something about the energetic health of specific organs. If you crave sweet food it means there’s an imbalance in your Spleen. If you crave salty foods then it’s more about your Kidney energy.
I also think we do this because our bodies haven’t evolved sufficiently to tell us exactly what it is we do need.
Your body is shouting ‘I am deficient in something!’
You are hearing ‘eat some sugar and fat!’
If you’re finding that you’re hungry soon after eating, craving sweet foods, tired ALL THE TIME then you’re probably missing some essential nutrients and minerals. Get yourself a decent multivitamin or even better, speak to a nutritionist or kinesiologist and to test for exactly what’s missing from your diet.
As I discussed in part I of this series, according to Chinese philosophy food has an energetic quality to it. As a result food might either support or aggravate our symptoms. Food can be heating or cooling, it might speed our system up or slow it down, it can support certain processes in our body or be harmful to them.
So what kinds of foods does this mean you should eat?
As with all things acupuncture it really depends on your individual make up. During a diagnosis I would look at what imbalances you were experiencing and make recommendations of how you might tweak your diet to support your acupuncture treatment.
For example, if you suffer with hot flushes at night I’d suggest cutting out heating foods such as chilli, coffee and increasing watery and cooling foods such as salads.
If you had a lot of phlegm on your chest I’d recommend you cut out phlegm-forming foods such as dairy, sugar and bananas and suggest you eat cleansing foods such as lemon, mushrooms and green tea.
Used in conjunction with acupuncture, Chinese dietary therapy can really set you on the path to good health and also gives you the knowledge to maintain your health beyond your treatment so that you can actively preserve your own well-being.
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says “he who takes medicine and neglects to diet wastes the skill of his doctors”. Wise words indeed!
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