Author: Justin Lee
Each food has the potential to influence your health in the right or wrong direction. Whether you suffer from being overweight, low in energy, or have a general sluggish feeling all the time, there are foods that are right for you. By understanding our imbalances from a Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) perspective, we can then use a TCM food therapy approach to eating healthy and rebalancing the body.
Food therapy is all about eating according to your body's needs. If you are trying to lose weight or boost your overall energy, it's important that the digestive system - the Spleen/Stomach - is supported for optimal digestion. People who tend to crave sweets tend to have a weakness in their Spleen/Stomach. The Stomach is responsible for taking in food, and rotting and ripening it. It's important that we chew our foods so that this process can flow smoothly. The Spleen's job is to then take the digested food, and transform it into vital nutrients. However, foods that damage these organs are refined sugars, greasy/oily foods, and foods that are cold in temperature. Refined sugars have been stripped of all nutrients and fiber, and actually overload the Spleen, making it unable to transform and transport. Cold foods tend to slow down digestion to a hault, making you feel heavy, sluggish, tired, and bloated as these foods sit in your body unable to be processed. You want to think of your digestive system like a furnace that needs to be kept warm all the time. Cold foods put out your digestive flames making it harder for you to process the foods you eat. Cold drinks do the same thing, except in the form of liquids - leading to water retention or what we call "dampness".
Another big issue with trying to lose weight is eating at the right times. 7-9AM is the optimal time for the Stomach to receive food, and so breakfast should be your biggest meal, while dinner should be a smaller meal as 7-9PM is when your Stomach is weakest according to TCM. Being mindful of your eating habits can help improve how much your body is going to absorb from the foods you eat. We always recommend in TCM to eat in a calm environment, where you can focus on your food alone without distraction. Eating in a hurry, or while working on the computer or checking your phone actually divides your energy and makes it more difficult for your Spleen/Stomach to do its job efficiently.
In TCM, people with weak spleens should eat everything cooked. By doing so, this optimizes nutrient absorption and the elimination of dampness. Earth vegetables are great for boosting the Spleen - carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, turnips, beets & more. These foods give us energy, eliminate waste, and ultimately help your body to drop the excess weight.
It's interesting to note that the element of the stomach/spleen in TCM is Earth - hence why "earthy" vegetables help boost our spleen. Organic makes it even better as these vegetables are grown in a healthy, nutrient rich "earth" environment. Feel free to follow Justin on Instagram @acu_soul for more health tips on food from a TCM perspective.
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