Chinese medicine (TCM) involves many aspects, not only acupuncture and herbal medicine. In fact, TCM considers diet the first line of defense and treatment in health matters, and acupuncture and herbal medicine are only considered if diet alone cannot resolve a condition.
A proper diet can improve the results of acupuncture treatment and medicinal herbs. Here are some basic guidelines for a health-promoting diet from a TCM perspective.
Foods to Avoid:
Dairy products: (milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt) Dairy products are considered very damp, heavy, cold foods that slow and weaken digestion when eaten excessively. Dairy products have very concentrated properties, so a little bit goes a long way in their effect on the body. This is why Chinese medicine recommends they be eaten in small quantities. For people with damp or phlegm conditions such as allergies, asthma, and sinusitis, dairy foods are usually best avoided entirely.
Cold foods and liquids: Cold foods are very hard on the stomach and they weaken the stomach’s ability to warm and cook the food to begin the process of digestion. Foods should be eaten warm or at room temperature, never cold straight out of the fridge. Water, juices, and teas should be consumed warm or at room temperature, never cold. Think of the stomach as a hot pot cooking on the stove- dousing it with cold foods or liquids can put out the flame.
Greasy, oily, fatty, or deep-fried foods: Excessively oily foods are very heavy and slow to digest, which can weaken digestion. Again, these are heavy foods that are very concentrated in their properties and effects on the body and a little bit can have a big effect on our health and digestion. Not only that, but a large quantity is just too difficult to digest at once.
Overly rich foods: These foods tend to be too heavy and slow to digest properly. Examples are creamy cheese pastas or butter sauces. Like fatty foods, large quantities are just too difficult for our digestive system to process.
Coffee: Coffee can be very hard on the stomach as well as the liver. It is also a stimulant and can throw off the body’s natural ability to regulate energy and metabolism. Black or green tea is an appropriate substitute.
A healthy diet is one that includes a variety of wholesome foods. Variety is very important, as eating too much of one flavour or one food can lead to imbalances in the body. Try to incorporate as much variety as possible in your choice of flavours, grains, vegetables, fruits, etc.
Incorporating a balance of all flavours into the diet is also important. Food should be mainly quite neutral or bland in flavour with some spices and flavourings to add interest. Avoid overly flavouring foods with condiments, salt, and spices. Moderation is key! Anything in excess can be unhealthy.
Be sure to include plenty of fruits vegetables in your daily diet. Fruits and vegetables have their own healing abilities, are rich in antioxidants, and help the body to detoxify. Some amount of raw vegetables should be eaten daily, except when recovering from illness (including colds and flu) or if you have a weak or frail constitution. In these cases, cooked foods and vegetables (soups, stews) help nourish the body back to health.
The body handles meat protein best in small quantities. Begin to think of meat as an accent, not the centerpiece in any meal.
Eat seasonal. Our bodies are attuned to seasonal changes and eating the foods that are naturally in season help us to transition with the changing seasons. Salads and raw foods can be increased in the summer; in the winter, cooked foods and heartier stews and soups are appropriate.
Drink water! Water helps our body to function properly and to flush out toxins when healing. Our body can’t perform or heal properly if we aren’t properly hydrated.
Make Okanagan Acupuncture Centre a part of your health team! Call or visit our downtown Kelowna location for more information. Contact us.