In my clinic people express a range of summaries about their diet. At one end of the spectrum some tell me their diet is “terrible” – and they are right. At the other end are those who truly do have great balanced diets. But many, unfortunately think they are doing great with their diet – when they really aren’t.
Having a balanced diet is an important key to good health. Most of us know that already. But many people aren’t quite sure what a healthy diet looks like and are short on ideas that are simple and time efficient. Confused by marketing, challenged by time, manipulated by trends and short on information, people often bumble their way through their days just making sure they are fed something.
Chinese medicine has some good basic nutrition principles that apply to everyone. You will find good practitioners of dietary therapy are not fans of fads. We do not encourage overusing or eliminating certain foods based on whatever happens to be the current trend. Some basic principles we would advise are to keep your diet wide and varied. And keep cold/raw food to a minimum.
Wide and varied is a concept most people can accept. But many aren’t applying it. Have you got into habits that mean you are eating only a minimal variation of foods each day? Do you have the same breakfast and lunch every day? Are your protein sources limited? Have you eliminated entire food groups? If you answer yes to these questions then it is very likely your diet isn’t varied enough to get the range of nutrients and energetic balance we need for good health.
Raw and cold food have become what people think forms a healthy diet. Modern nutritional research has made people think of diet in terms of reductionism rather than wholism e.g raw vegetables in a lab are found to contain this and that nutrient versus how does that food actually nourish us when it is eaten. Unfortunately the green juice/ raw food/ Nutrabullet trends have way too many people consuming too much food that is energetically “cold”. Cold and raw food weakens the energy system of the body that is central to our ongoing health. Initially, people can feel great. Particularly if their diet has been full of processed, sugary and chemical laden food. But damage occurs over time as this energy power house of the body is systematically weakened. The most ancient, sophisticated and well documented medicines of the world all talk about the digestive fires. Eating meals that are mostly cold and raw is like pouring water onto a fire you are trying to stoke.
Some people truly do have intolerances or allergies to certain foods. But many people are eliminating foods that when used appropriately can be very beneficial as part of a varied diet. A great example is milk. Dairy has been unnecessarily eliminated from a lot of peoples diets, then substituted with genetically modified, energetically cold and hard to digest soy. Other processed, low nutrition milk substitutes are often used as well. Organic milk, has its place as a “blood tonic” food. Yes it’s true some people don’t tolerate dairy or are indeed allergic. And yes, like the green juice fad, there are some that have too much of it. But like all foods, it has its place in a nutritionally balanced diet.
I’m prepared to be controversial and say that vegetarianism and veganism also can be problematic. Applying a reductionist perspective, our bodys need a variety of amino acids and nutrients only available across a broad range of protein sources. From a wholistic perspective, different proteins also have different energetic properties. Over reliance on a limited range of protein sources can create energetic imbalance. As mentioned before, the problem is that people often feel good initially, especially if the diet change involves removing foods that haven’t been healthy. But over time other issues arise, that are often a result of poor nutritional imbalance due to over elimination of food groups.
My parting comment for you to ponder is: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Look at the greater picture. In a Chinese medicine clinic, excessive raw food consumption and over reliance or elimination of food groups can be linked to gradual deterioration of a persons health status.