Let’s talk about food, after all March is National Nutrition Month! We eat to be well and feel well. We eat because it’s healthy or because it just tastes oh so delicious. We eat because we are bored or sad. We eat to celebrate the good or get through the bad. Food is a huge part of our life…and in traditional Chinese medicine; it is believed that food generates our life energy or “Qi” day in and day out. We’ve all heard someone say, “you are what you eat.” If we eat a good balanced diet, chances are we will be healthier and stronger. If we eat junk food everyday, chances are we will become a couch potato.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine says it best: “Let thy food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be thy food.”
Food can be powerful, nourishing, and healing or it can be what makes us sick, diseased and weak. Since March is dedicated to nutrition I wanted to take the opportunity to not only encourage healthy eating habits but also pass on some knowledge about traditional Chinese medicine and our view of food.
Traditional Chinese medicine views food in a way that can be used to prevent illness and heal disease. Different foods have properties in which can warm, cool, or nourish the body. Food is used to create balance, cool excess heat, or nourish after an illness. Eating for your body’s constitution is called, dietary therapy. It is a form of therapy that many acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medical doctors use in their practice.
In dietary therapy, the spleen and the stomach are energetically responsible for turning food into energy or qi used by the body.
Some concepts of Chinese medicine that are important for digestion and Spleen/Stomach function are:
- Eating at regular times and eat suitable amounts.
- Eating cooked foods — this is due to the fact that it takes much more energy of the body to warm the Stomach to digest foods. Cold and raw foods are injurious to the Spleen and Stomach energy according to the traditional concepts, and should be eaten sparingly.
- Eating foods that are in season and grown as close to home as possible. There is more Qi available from these foods, as they are fresher and have more food energy. Also, seasonal eating is important to maintaining internal balance. For example; in the Spring, it is advised to eat more sweet than sour to nourish the spleen. We should also not overeat, as that will block the flow of liver qi.
- Taste is also important. Food can be sweet, sour, acrid, butter and salty. Many foods actually have two or more flavors. Apples are sweet and sour, for example. Eating a diet that is right for you in dietary therapy, is one that promotes balance of your qi.
"Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right" is the theme for National Nutrition Month® 2014. So in March, I want to see your plates. Post your favorite recipes and meals on Superior Being Acupuncture & Wellness Facebook page and start sharing some delicious spring time recipes...because SPRING IS COMING!