Mama Always Said: You Are What You Eat
While this isn’t quite accurate, research has shown that some of the things we eat can actually impact our health profoundly. Over the years, research has shown that our dietary choices can influence our risk of disease. However, this topic needs to be approached without feeding into diet culture.
According to Chinese medicine philosophy, nutrition is the first line of defense in maintaining balance and good overall health. Food provides us with the energy we need to function but it can also provide us with the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants that keep our bodies working at an optimal level. And nutrition plays a huge role in both our physical and mental well-being. With simple changes to our diets, we can increase energy levels and improve our overall health.
But sometimes the hesitation comes in knowing exactly where to begin with making those changes. It can seem overwhelming to try and change everything at once. That’s where your Chinese medicine provider can come in with helpful suggestions based on the things you want to accomplish. The nutritional adjustments and acupuncture treatments can work hand in hand to help get your body back to its optimal level of performance.
Lacking in the Basics
The Standard Western diet can be high in processed foods and low in whole foods like fresh vegetables, keep our bodies from getting the vitamins and minerals we need to thrive. While some of these issues are difficult to address, due to much larger issues, it is important to remember that vitamin and mineral deficiencies can increase our risk of many diseases. Heart disease, certain types of cancer, and immune dysfunction can all be impacted by a lack of certain vitamins and nutrients.
As a provider, I tend to be more on the side of adding foods to your diet rather than restriction. In my practice and my own life I take an intuitive and weight neutral approach to eating so you won’t find any food shame here.
Herbal Supplements Can Be A Good Option
There are specific herbal supplements that can help your body to boost its immune system and can fill in gaps in your diet. I highly recommend talking to a professional (like me) about what herbal supplements they recommend to help you add those vital nutrients to your diet.
It probably goes without saying the importance of including vegetables, fruit, beans, and grains as part of a well-rounded diet. Many of these foods include antioxidants which can help protect our cells from damage.
Many plants are also a great source of fiber, part of the building blocks of a healthy diet. High fiber foods include the same list just mentioned and can help protect us from disease and decrease inflammation. Fiber promotes healthy digestion and elimination and also feeds the good bacteria in our guts.
Carbs = Energy
People have been demonizing carbohydrates for far too long. Carbohydrates provide the body with an energy source called glucose, that is used to support bodily functions and physical activity. They are also wonderful for regulating mood and for athletic performance. If you have ever been “hangry” you know exactly what I am talking about.
Fat is Fabulous
Contrary to popular belief, protein and fat are not the enemy and they can play a critical role in keeping our bodies operating efficiently. Omega-3 fatty acids, mainly found in fish, help to regulate inflammation and have been linked through much research to improved heart health and proper immune function. And the amino acids found in protein can aid in muscle health and regulating metabolism.
A Thoughtful Approach to Food
We all know that doing anything to excess isn’t healthy, and that can include what and how much we eat. Now I know that doesn’t sound very aligned with intuitive eating, but stay with me. In my own life as well as my practice, I have learned that the best approach to take is a mindful one.
We do understand that our dietary choices can have long-term effects on our health and quality of life. Abiding by the rule of moderation can help us build healthy habits so we make smart choices. And those choices could have a generational impact on those in our family who look to us as an example.
Remember: There is really no such thing as a “bad” food as all foods provide energy and many provide pleasure (aka what I call making qi for you). Just know that it is 100% ok to eat for pleasure. By listening to your body and practicing moderation in all aspects (including moderation) you will begin to form a better relationship with food rather than demonizing and assigning value to the foods we consume.
If you are now ready to take the first steps toward a more integrated approach to your health and nutrition, talk to me today! I’d love to help you achieve your wellness goals.