Do you consider yourself a healthy eater? Do you follow the guidelines set forth by the government for healthy eating? Or have you gone rogue? There are as many different definitions of healthy as there are colors in the rainbow. But according to traditional Chinese medicine, there are certain guidelines that will keep the body happy and healthy throughout life. Let’s explore this a little deeper.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine diet is based on energeticprinciples that encourage balance, clean burning digestion and awell-functioning body that remains free of disease and full of energy. Eatingfor balance is a way of life in Traditional Chinese Medicine theory. There arecertain foods that help the digestive system function properly and allow thebody to utilize the nutrients it needs to perform. When food enters the mouth,it travels through the stomach and intestines. This is where the energy isextracted from the food and the waste products are excreted. The energy thatwas extracted become your life force or Qi (pronounced “chee”). Digestion, inTCM theory, should be an unnoticeable event. The digestive system should beclean and quiet, allowing the body to extract the most nutrition and energy fromthe food that is ingested. If the digestive system becomes clogged,the energy does not get adequately absorbed and there is leftover residue thatsticks to places within the body thus causing blockages and affecting thebody’s daily functions.
Dampnessis the most common byproduct of eating foods that create blockages in thedigestive system. Foods that create dampness include cheese, yogurt, whiteflour and sugar. Dampness causes blockages or stagnations that can then lead topain and disease. Symptoms of accumulated dampness include mucus, loose stoolsor constipation, excess weight gain and swollen joints. Chronic allergies andarthritis are two Western medicine diseases that are very closely linked todampness.
Toavoid disease, the TCM diet recommends things like steamed rice, cookedvegetables and small quantities of animal protein. Vegetables play a major rolein draining dampness and are packed with nutrition. The more colorful thevegetables, the healthier they are for the body, as they contain lots ofantioxidants that promote health and longevity. Your plate should begin withlarge quantities of brightly colored and lightly cooked vegetables. Leafygreens are very important also as they are some of the most balancing andnutrient dense foods available.
Riceis a balanced food that is easily digested. Rice is also hypo-allergenic andthis is advantageous to those who are dealing with allergies as it is verygentle on the digestive system. White rice tends to be more cleansing, whilebrown rice is considered more nourishing. Rice is a clean burning food thatgently drains dampness from the body.
Proteinis the final component of a healthy TCM diet. Animal proteins and beans aredifficult to digest and therefore are only suggested in small quantities. Beansare better overall than animal proteins as they do help absorb dampness andthey provide fiber.
Thereare several things that should be avoided in the TCM diet. Dairy is one of thebiggest culprits of creating dampness. It is also cold in nature and this is ahindrance to the digestion. Cold, raw foods are culprits in the formation ofdampness, as it is difficult for the body to process them. This is why foodsingested should be at least at body temperature. When the body has to heat thefood, it drains the energetic resources of the body, which weakens the bodyover time. So things like salads, chilled food, iced drinks and frozen foodsshould not be included in the daily diet.
Whenit comes to healthy eating, it is obvious that most of the United Statesdoesn’t adhere to the aforementioned guidelines. If you are truly trying to eathealthy and you are dealing with illness, why not consider trying the TCM wayof eating? You might be surprised at how your body changes.