October 7, 2015

Tips from Chinese Dietary Therapy
By Guillermo Molano
TCM Practitioner and Master Coach

This is one of my favorite topics. It is the single most important aspect to health, but for most people it seems to be the most difficult to master. It may be because eating healthy is much more of an art than a science. After all the progress achieved in other areas of knowledge, nutrition science hasn’t improved much.

In some sense it’s scary. It’s the blind leading the blind out there. New diets are created every year; experts contradict themselves; what used to be great is suddenly awful, and the other way around. Eat this, don’t eat that… oh wait, let me take that back… let’s try this and see how it goes! It doesn’t sound like science, does it?

Diet tip #1: Calorie counting doesn’t work. If you eat bad foods, choose healthier ones. Either way relax and enjoy them.

One of the biggest pitfalls of modern diets is calorie counting. From an evolutionary point of view is obvious that the body doesn’t work like an arithmetic calculator. Throughout evolution, the body adapted several metabolic responses to increase the probability of survival in times of scarcity, as well as mechanisms to avoid excess of mass gain in times of abundance. In simple words, if you give too little food to the body, it may switch to survival mode and start hoarding every little bit of the precious fat it has.

On the other hand, if you give the body plenty, it may signal abundance and start burning more fat. But be careful and avoid going to any extreme, this isn’t to be taken as a golden rule since there are many other factors that come into play, like stress levels, sleep quantity and quality, emotional factors among other things.

If you still want proof that calorie counting doesn’t work just swing by the closest Weight Watchers meeting and look for yourself. I’m convinced that restricting your calorie intake may actually be physically bad for you, and also demoralizing. Have you ever noticed, at a Chinese restaurant, those little Chinese people eating tons of food? Perhaps you should ask them their opinion about calorie counting and portion control.

Fortunately, there is Chinese Dietary Therapy. It has been around for a while (4,000 years) and it has been tested plenty. It can be a bit complex, but it does have plenty of tips and guidelines that can be followed easily and would help you being healthier.

Diet tip #2: Avoid cold foods and drinks. Only drink room temperature or warm beverages.
One of the greatest diet mistakes of the west is eating chilled drinks and foods (and you thought that frozen yogurt was healthy, right?). When we eat, the stomach releases enzymes needed for digestion that can only work at the right temperature. These enzymes are important in breaking up the food into little components that the body will transport and use somewhere else. When you drink cold water with your food, that cold water will lower the temperature of the stomach and thus hinder the action of the enzymes. The food will be only partially digested and won’t release all it’s nutrients causing over acidification of the stomach, a bloating feeling and loss of appetite. Even worst, it will weaken your digestive system causing it to lose its ability to process foods successfully. In time, this will lead to weight gain, as well as a myriad of other health issues.

Therefore, next time you are dinning out, if you must drink something with your food, remember these four words: “Water no ice please”.

Diet tip #3: We become what we eat. Literally.

Most people think about their body as a machine, let’s say a car. They assume that food is just like gas, like energy to keep us running. That is a very simplistic and incomplete way of looking at the human body and its relationship with food. It is true that food gives us “energy”, but it does way more than that. Through digestion, food is incorporated into our bodies. It becomes our tissues, our organs, it becomes part of us.

Western science has now stated that we are atomically replaced every year. It may be hard to believe, so let me repeat it: 98% of our atoms are replaced every year. Furthermore, our stomach and intestines are replaced every four days, our skin every four weeks, our liver every 6 weeks and our heart every 5 months. We may take for granted that our bodies as something quite static, but actually we are being regenerated every second.

Where do you think all the components used to replace us come from? That’s right, food, so we better eat well. On one hand you find people who like to eat junk food: candy, energy drinks, packaged foods with lots of preservatives, the list goes on. This junk doesn’t provide any nutrients, just waste in your body to be eliminated. On the other hand you find people that live off of raw salads and think they are being healthy. In fact, they are undernourished and keeping their body in survival mode.

Eating well is too important to be placed as a lower priority. Can’t cook because your schedule is too busy? Don’t complain when your health starts going downhill. If you haven’t been able to manage how to feed yourself well, then you really haven’t learned the most basic thing in life.

Let me finish this article the way I began it… food is the single most important aspect to health. It is also delicious, try to enjoy it.