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Diet and Life Style

Chinese medicine 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 his life.

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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