was founded on the study of health, and the discovery that diet and
life style are the foundations of health. In Chinese, the word doctor
means a teacher. In the old days they taught people how to live in balance
rather than treating them after they had become ill. The doctors of
Chinese Medicine understood the interconnection between diet and health.
Over a long time they studied and collected information on how specific
foods affect the body. Today we are equipped with a large body of knowledge
on this subject.
A food’s character
may be classified as warming, cooling or neutral. The character of the
food has to do with its effects on the body rather than it physical
temperature. Also the Chinese found that each food interacts with and
affects specific meridians (energy pathways) and organs in the body.
For instance, shrimp are considered warming to the body. The warming
character has to do with the food’s effects on the body rather
then its physical temperature. Shrimp can be used to strengthen the
spleen and liver organs.
People who have acne problems or who are recuperating from illness would
be advised to avoid eating shrimp until her or his body becomes balanced.
On the other hand, people with poor circulation, or who are nursing
mothers with insufficient milk, would benefit from eating shrimp. For
more information on this subject see the book Healing With Whole Foods
by Paul Pitchford.
This information was, and to some degree still is, common knowledge
in Chinese culture. If you had a stomachache or a cold and you decided
to eat in a Chinese restaurant, the waiter might recommend a specific
dish that would help your healing process.
As an acupuncturist I will be able to give you general guidance on eating
meals and, depending on your specific situation, what foods may be helpful
to eat or avoid.
Life style is a collection of habits that we incorporate
into our lives often without evaluation. Life style concerns one’s
work, rest, hours of sleep, exercise, sexuality, stress level and use
of muscle groups. Living in balance in any of the above areas brings
health into one’s life, but living out of balance (to little or
too much) can bring on disease. Here is a story that illustrates a point
I would like you to understand about both diet and life style. When
you put a frog in a pot of water and gradually warm the water, the frog
will end up cooked to death. On the other hand, if you put the frog
in very hot water it will jump out right a way. The effects of bad habits
are gradual and so like the frog we can be unaware of detrimental effects
until it is too late.
Educating yourself about these areas can help you get
out of unhealthy habits. Here is a client example: A man who came to
me had been an alcoholic for 20 years. He was overworking himself at
the office and living under a high level of stress. This client also
was overweight. He had stopped exercising for a few years due to the
development of debilitating pain in both legs. His complaints were dizzy
spells and the leg pain. In Chinese medicine, pain indicates blocked
energy. This was the case with the client’s legs. I recommended
gentle exercise and also reducing both his workload and the stress in
Talking with the client about his diet revealed that he was eating small
breakfasts and large dinners with meat at night. During the day he was
drinking one cup of coffee and iced water. All the above eating habits
were weakening his digestion. I recommended that he eat larger breakfasts
and smaller dinners and to eat meat during lunch. I also advised him
to replace coffee with green tea and to avoid drinking ice water. I
gave him an herbal pill formula to help correct his imbalance and since
he was not living in the area I recommended that he look for an acupuncturist
nearer to his home.
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