There is a big trend, today, in healthy eating circles to eliminate foods from our diet. Eliminate everything “bad” and we’ll be left with only good. Sounds good in theory but in reality it leads to an imbalanced diet that may do more harm than good. Scientists seem to change their minds with maddening regularity what harms and what helps our health. Eliminating the “bad” played a big part in my becoming so ill last winter. I eliminated chemical salt, then cheese, by the time I was done I’d eliminated all the iodine sources from my diet and developed thyroid problems.
The only “bad” I associate with food now is what’s unnatural; chemicals and GMOs. This doesn’t mean you can go hog wild and expect to stay healthy. I want to share with you the 17 Chinese dietary guidelines according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM.) They are about moderation, balance, inclusion, and honoring both the body and the food. The LAST thing the Asian approach is about is deprivation. See number 7 below.
What follows are the 17 doctrines shared with me by my TCM physician. As with any conversation with Dr. Weaver the words are few but the ramifications are great.
- Doctrine of the Mean; Eat in Moderation:Overeating will result in a buildup of the Yin which will impede the flow of Yang or impede the function of the organs causing depletions or deficiencies.
- Know that foodstuffs eaten at extreme temperatures may cause imbalances. Hot foods may damage the digestive organs (yin)old foods may put out the Middle Burner Fire (Yang). So warm food and drink, not scalding hot, and no iced drinks. When I started moving to more moderate temperatures in food and drink I soon saw what a jolt to the system the extremes are. BONUS No more burnt mouths or brain freeze. 🙂
- Limit the amount of fluids that you consume, especially at mealtime. Eat when you are hungry and drink when you are thirsty. Don’t drink fluids when you eat solid food so too much fluid will damage/drown the Kidney fire which acts as a transport system.
- Maintain the vigor of the Middle Warmer of Middle Burner by including cooked foods as well as energetically warming foods to nourish the Earth element (Stomach and Spleen.)
- Keep food no longer than 48 hours after the time of preparation – after 48 hours the food loses its vitality. I keep a roll of masking tape and a sharpie in a drawer of my kitchen. When I put leftovers into a container I label it with the date. I do the same with packaged foods on the day I open them. The Sell By date is good for a sealed package. Once the seal is broken the countdown begins.
- Cook as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible and preferably organically grown and foods that are grown regionally.
- Eat widely. According to the classical way, one needs to include in one’s diet 40 different foods daily.
- Eat in a relaxed atmosphere. Take time to eat our meal. Chew each bite 20 times.
- Choose food judiciously according to the seasons of the year.
- Include these five flavors into each meal that you eat:Salty, sweet, bitter, spicy /pungent, sour
- Include these 5 colors into each meal that you prepare:Black/Purple, Orange/Yellow, Red, White, Green/Blue
- Eat like a Queen/King at Breakfast, a Princess/Prince at lunch, and a Pauper at dinner
- Use flesh as a condiment not as a main dish. Learn to use flesh as flavoring instead of the main course. You should learn to use 4 parts vegetables with 1 part flesh.
- Don’t drink iced drinks, this will severely impair digestion. I know this is a hard one for many of you to swallow but try it and after a while you’ll notice the difference.
- Be sure and walk 200 steps after every meal.
- Don’t eat raw foods i.e. salads, especially if your Spleen is weak. Salads should only be eaten in the height of summer, and not as a main meal. A salad should be eaten last as a side dish.
- Doctrine of Signatures: The doctrine of signatures states that “things looking similar or sharing similar structures embody similar principles of essence (yin) and energy (yang). Like cures like. So a walnut, which looks like a brain, is actually good for your brain.
So the above list may well represent 17 big changes to your diet. Remember I love simple, small, steps. Pick one guideline and incorporate it into your daily diet routine. When you are comfortable with it pick another one. Before you know it you will be feeling healthier and more vibrant and won’t want to go back to the old devitalizing and congesting ways.