Acupuncture for Weight Loss

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

There are so many diets out there and it seems like every doctor, nutritionist and medical professional has a different approach on how to help you lose weight. This can be overwhelming and confusing to the average person trying to find information about how to eat better, exercise and lose excess pounds. I am here to tell you about the Chinese medicine approach.
Nutrition and dietary therapy are a very important aspect of Chinese medicine. The difference with Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it has 4000 years of history to back it up and it belongs to a culture that generally, do not have problems with their weight. China, and indeed much of Asia are cultures of slim people. So, they must be doing something right. The key is that, as a culture, they have a different approach to food and nutrition.
In North America we live in a culture with an excess of food and most importantly, an excess of unnatural foods full of additives and preservatives. Never in human history have we had such an array of chemicals, additives and pesticides in the food we eat. Things like MSG and aspartame – which are both extremely toxic and major causes of disease, are ubiquitous.One of the most important things we can do, and a concept that is integral to Chinese medicine, is to eat REAL FOOD. This may seem ridiculously simple, but it is not that easy to do. It is becoming increasingly confusing for the consumer to know exactly what is in the food we buy and how much it has been modified. Laws about labelling vary from country to country so it is difficult to know what exactly is in the food we are eating.The Chinese have a holistic view of the body, and a very different approach to diet and nutrition than we do in the West. It may seem strange at first, but it has been practiced for thousands of years. They believe that it is not only WHAT you eat, but HOW you eat. Here are some examples:
  1. Being MINDFUL when you eat, that is not dispersing energies by watching tv, working or studying
  2. Sitting while you eat without crossing your legs, as this crosses energy that should flow freely and unhindered
  3. Chewing your food very well
  4. Eat organically and locally
  5. Eat with the seasons
  6. Wearing loose fitting clothing so Qi can flow and not become obstructed

 

preparing food

The Chinese believe that one should eat foods that are locally grown, that is to say foods that are indigenous to where you live. This was certainly easier to do in a time before air travel. We have been spoiled by a variety of foods from all over the world that are available to us at any time of the year. And although many people love to be able to eat things like strawberries all year long, it is not considered healthy according to the TCM model, as this was not the way our digestive systems were designed. Weight has not been a problem in China until the last couple of generations because of the introduction of North American food into the diet. It is not necessarily the variety of foods that have caused this change, but the fact that the foods that many of us eat in the West are overly processed and full of unnatural preservatives that are difficult to metabolize. Foods full of refined sugar, wheat, oils and salt are some of the most unhealthy and a large cause of unnecessary weight gain.

One of the main strengths of Chinese medicine is that it is so individualistic. Because it is a holistic system, each part of the body affecting and influencing the others, there is a real emphasis on individual diagnosis. For example, lets take a headache. In Western medicine if you were to complain of headaches your MD might suggest taking something like Advil or Tylenol, and would probably give pretty much the same advice to most people who came in with that complaint. In Chinese medicine there are over 100 different types of headaches and each one is treated completely differently. It is this way with all diagnostics in TCM. There are many different types of obesity and people struggle with their weight for many different reasons. The reasons can range from physical, psychological, emotional to spiritual. This is why the Chinese medicine approach works so well. Each person is diagnosed as an individual according to their specific issues and treatment is designed specifically for them. When people ask me what I “DO” for people to help them lose weight, I have to say that it is a completely different approach for every person I treat. The reasons for gaining and keeping weight on are individual, so then, must be the treatment.

scale

In my experience, I would say that the most important thing you need if you would like to lose weight is the DESIRE. I cannot tell you how many patients have come into my office and asked me to work my magic and make the pounds disappear. And, flattering as this is, it is simply not possible. What I tell them is that they must WANT to lose the weight. And if they do I will gladly work with them using acupuncture, herbs and nutritional therapy, as well as any other TCM modalities that might help in their particular case, to get the weight off. It is a joint effort and the acupuncturist is there to help and support you through the process. With the desire of the patient, and the skills of the practitioner, acupuncture really works to help you lose weight and get back to health.

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