Applying Lessons from Chinese Medicine and Nutrition for Weight Loss

By Samantha Wiggins

Everyone wants to look good. But all too often, our pursuit of beauty comes at the expense of our health. It's important to remember that looking and feeling good isn’t just about the amount of food and exercise you get every day. It’s also about successfully nourishing every part of your being. That’s exactly what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is all about. In TCM, food is viewed as medicine — something you can use to nourish and harmonize your mind, body, and spirit.

To the Chinese, the overall well-being of the body is more important than how it looks. In fact, TCM practitioners use the food energetics system to teach patients how to heal their bodies through what they eat. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach, as each person has a particular body constitution that they must eat according to. For example, a person with a body constitution that is dry and warm would benefit from food that can bring moisture to the body. If you want to lose weight the healthy way, here are some lessons you can pick up from TCM:

Follow a Balanced Diet

You hear this advice even in Western medicine, but in TCM, the focus is the spleen and the stomach. It's important to not eat too much, but also not too little. Men's Health Magazine explains that when you gorge yourself with food regularly, your spleen and stomach fail to handle the load. This eventually leads to a whole host of problems — from poor digestion and slow metabolism to food stagnation and internal phlegm. Therefore, it's important to focus on consuming food that can boost your metabolism, promote bowel movement, and prevent fluid retention.


This delicious Photo by Katie Smith on Unsplash

Help Your Digestive System

Poor nutrition, coupled with a stressful and hectic lifestyle, is a recipe for weight gain. By getting digestive organs in good form, you would be able to digest food properly. This, in turn, allows you to harness the energy and nutrients that your body needs to prevent energy drain. In order to help your digestive system, eat food that corresponds to the organ that you want to nourish. For example, Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation notes that sour foods support the liver, so if you're craving sour food, that might just be your liver asking for an extra boost.

Boost Your Metabolism

Here on the Chinese Medicine Living site, we previously listed the 10 best foods you can eat to stimulate your metabolism. This includes food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which you can find in salmon, herring, and tuna. This can help balance your blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and regulate your metabolism. Green leafy vegetables, garlic, onion, nuts, seeds, green tea, and grapefruit are other examples. If your metabolism is slow, your meals are broken down less efficiently, leading to weight gain. Drinking plenty of water is also important.

If you ever want to try losing weight with the help of modern methods like diet pills, choose the kind that mimic what TCM does — helping the digestive organs work better and ridding it of waste. Many dietary supplements are designed to help cleanse your digestive system. This works to remove toxins and promote faster metabolism. And when your body effectively rids itself of toxic materials, you can achieve a balance that can lead to long-lasting weight loss.

All in all, rebalancing your life and managing your weight shouldn’t be difficult when you follow the techniques of TCM. All it takes is a little discipline and awareness about what your body needs. 

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Featured image photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash

 


The Desire to Get Better

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

There is something about medicine that I don't think gets talked about enough, and in my opinion, it is one of the most important aspects of the healing process. It is not the quality of the medicines or herbs, the severity of the disease or even the credentials of the doctor. It is simply, the desire to get better.

To some, this may seem strange. If people are seeking out treatment and showing up in your office, does this not imply a desire to get well? You would think so, but, in my experience, it is not always the case. Many times patients arrive and in the course of the initial interview it becomes obvious that they have become identified with their disease. For whatever reason, it has become such an integral part of their person, their physical body, their personality, that their entire identity is wrapped up in it. In some cases, the thought of curing their disease would be like the loss of an old friend, or worse, losing a limb.

This scenario generally plays out after someone has been suffering with some sort of physical or mental ailment for a long time. As an acupuncturist, you sometimes get patients who come to you after they have tried everything else. You are the last resort. For many of these people, acupuncture has never been on their radar, but after trying everything else they could think of, they have decided to try it out because they no longer have anything left to lose. This generally means that the disease is chronic, could have been complicated by various other types of treatments, the body can be exhausted and various organ systems affected, and the patient has lost hope. All these things make treatment more difficult and your job more complex.

The Desire to Get Better : Chinese Medicine Living

In these cases I always try to address the emotional and psychological aspects of the disease. What was happening in your life when you got sick? How were you feeling? Were there any traumas in your life that preceded your diagnosis? These are all important questions, and help to make diagnosis and treatment more effective. These are also probably questions the patient has never been asked before in the context of their illness. This is why the Chinese medicine model is so effective and why I love it so much. The word cancer doesn't mean anything to me. I want to know WHY you have the cancer. What in your life caused the cancer. And why it is choosing to manifest where it has. What in your life led up to you getting the cancer, and so forth.

But ultimately, it is the desire to get better that trumps almost everything else. Many times I have had patients come into my office and ask me if there are points I can do to make the lose weight. My response to this is always no. I say to them that there are many points that I can do to support you in your weight loss, but we will have to work as a team with you eating a balanced diet and exercising. I sometimes get a look of deep disappointment, like they were hoping that I could do it for them. Of course I can't. If you don't want to lose the weight and are not willing to do the work, then you won't lose weight. This is simply logic. Others have come asking for acupuncture so they can quit smoking. I say "there are protocols that help with things like cravings and if you are ready to quit, then acupuncture and your acupuncturist can support you in the process". If they were hoping for a magical point that would do it for them I know it is the last time I will see them. At least for a while, until they are ready.

One of the other things I often see in clinic is that if the treatment prescribed is not the one the patients wants or is willing to deal with, then the necessary healing will not take place. It is one of the most frustrating and slightly heartbreaking parts of my job that I feel that I can, after a few minutes, tell what a person really needs to get over whatever illness has pushed itself uninvited into their lives, and know that not everyone is willing to do what it takes to deal with it and get better. Sometimes people just need to talk. They are frustrated and in pain, and I definitely see that a lot. Sometimes, people want some validation, that what they are experiencing is awful and painful and humiliating. I see that too. But one of the things that I see a lot more is that many people are living in a culture of sickness, and they simply do not know how to be well. I think that until we live in a culture that really cultivates health, the people that live in it will struggle to find their way there.

The Desire to Get Better : Chinese Medicine Living

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living