Chinese Food Therapy?!

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Chinese Food Therapy?  Sounds like my kind of medicine!  In all seriousness, Chinese food is designed to be medicinal.  Fried Rice is cooked twice for optimal digestion, veggies are quickly stir fried to retain color and nutrients, sauces are designed to increase yin fluids – sweet and sour, or yang energy – hot and sour, etc.

One of the ways your acupuncturist can help you meet your goals is by recommending foods which support the treatment of your individual pattern and constitution.  It’s quite simple, eating foods that support what your body is trying to do makes you feel better while foods that go against your pattern make you feel worse.

According to Eastern Nutrition, the goal is to eat all 5 flavors daily in varying amounts depending on what your body is currently experiencing.  The reason is that our bodies utilize the nutrients involved with the flavors in different ways.

  • Sweet/Bland – nourishing and moistening, usually neutral temperature
    • Ex: Most meats, dairy, grains – prepared correctly, and fruits
    • Caution in excess sweet foods create dampness and phlegm
  • Bitter – sometimes cool, sometimes warm, cleansing and draining
    • Ex:  Rye, Arugula, Sesame Seeds
    • In excess they are overly drying
  • Sour/Astringent – is cool, astringent, and help prevent abnormal leakage
    • Ex: Vinegar, lemons, limes, sauerkraut
    • Use sparingly with dampness, heaviness, constipation
  • Salty – is cool softens hardness & stiffness, moistens dryness
    • Ex: Seafoods, seaweed, kelp, sea salt
    • Caution in damp, overweight, edema (except seaweeds which are helpful)
  • Acrid/Pungent – can be cool or warm, moving and dispersing,
    • Ex: Radishes, cumin, dill, fennel, peppermint, turnip
    • caution in hot conditions or those who are thin dry nervous or sweat easily

* Everyone’s needs are different and change according to season, age, and environmental factors.  If you are going to throw yourself into eastern nutrition, therapy good for you!  In order to do so safely, be sure to consult your acupuncturist and check out Paul Pitchford’s Healing with Whole Foods “Therapeutic Use of the Five Flavors” section on pages 308 to 316.

Tips to Live by:

  • Eat what makes you feel healthy, not what makes you temporarily feel good
  • You really are what you eat – sounds simple, but eat real food – 4-5000 years ago in China, they didn’t have overly processed food
  • Look at ingredient lists before purchasing, if you don’t recognize it as food, don’t eat it
  • Eat what works for you, not what works for someone else
    • My favorite explanation for this can be found in chapter one of The Metabolic Typing Diet by Wolcott & Fahey  “One Man’s Food is Another Man’s Poison.”  Not only is it eye opening, but the book goes on to explain how you can listen to your own body to figure out what foods are best for you.

  • Use what I call the picnic plate principle (yes, I made that up).  Remember attending picnics as children and they had the plates that had the separate sections?  30 years ago, there used to be a small medium and large section!  Today they look more like what is pictured with one large and two equal medium sections.  People typically put meat or heavy starches in the large section and vegetables in the small sections.  A simple way to improve your diet is to start putting the vegetables in the large section then finish the entire plate slowly so your body has time to send the message that you are full.  If you are still hungry, refill and eat from all sections, not just the meat or heavy starch.  The increase in the bitter flavor of most vegetables begins to improve your taste so you actually begin to crave healthier foods!

Need help with your eastern nutrition food therapy plan?

Contact us today for an appointment!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

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