Tuesday, September 27, 2011

5 Tips to Improve the WAY You Eat

I've always admired people who keep themselves organized by creating helpful lists - be it a grocery list, a weekly ‘to do’ list or an outline for long term goals and projects. While I occasionally create various lists for myself, there is one list I often jot down for my patients who require nutritional advice along with acupuncture.

The elements I usually highlight are what to eat and how to prepare it and also what to avoid.  That extends beyond specific food choices and into certain mealtime habits and behaviours that can seriously affect the assimilation of our food and how easily we digest it.

While Traditional Chinese Medical dietetics is based on respecting individual differences and needs, the following list provides general guidelines to healthy eating.

Consult a qualified practitioner before making any drastic changes to your diet.

1) Drink either warm or room temperature liquids. Cold drinks weaken the digestive system because the stomach has to work harder to reheat its contents so as to prepare it for the rest of the digestive process.

2) For the same reason as above, try to prepare warm meals and limit intake of raw, cold foods. Opt for steamed and stir-fried foods more often.

3) Cut back on dairy. For many people, dairy can exacerbate the symptoms of mucus forming conditions such as frequent common colds, allergies, sinus problems, colon trouble, etc. Maintain proper calcium levels, however.

4) It seems like a "no brainer" to say eat 3 meals a day (yes, especially breakfast), but I encounter so many people who do not. Skipping meals often results in fatigue and headaches.

5) Eat with an awareness as to the atmosphere in which you take your meals. Arrange to eat in peaceful surroundings and avoid discussing business or any other topic that may engender emotional tension.  Please turn the TV off and allow your body to concentrate on doing its job of properly assimilating your food.

Rushing or EWD, (eating while driving), reading or studying while eating can all contribute to heartburn and eventual weakening of your digestive system.

I was delighted to learn that Dr Christiane Northrup recently initiated a 30 day 'mindful eating' challenge to all her Facebook fans. The idea is to sit down while you eat, a suggestion which would fit seamlessly into the list above. Taking the time to sit down to eat, she says, "improves digestion, enhances pleasure, and generally changes for the better, the way food is transmuted into your tissues and organs!"

The idea of eating with such awareness is of course nothing new to those schooled in Chinese medicine.  In fact, in the 5th century BC, Confucius expressed this notion as follows.  "When your attention is not there, the very taste of your food goes unnoticed."

Eating should be a pleasure, a time devoted to consciously nourishing our bodies with foods that enhance our health. Make proper eating a priority on YOUR ‘to do’ list.

Bon Appetit!

Acupuncture Mont-Tremblant is a holistic health practice situated in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.