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January 2018

Weight Loss, Food Dynamics, and New Years

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A great many people contact us interested in weight loss.  The solutions to this matter are complex and we wanted to write briefly on this topic.

In Chinese Medicine, each individual is truly viewed uniquely.  This is why there is no true magic “weight loss” formula of herbs.  But this is true for all conditions – everyone is viewed uniquely.  One approach using acupuncture or herbs for a case (say, of migraines) might be quite differently approached with a different person.  This may be true even if the people seem at a glance to be similar (for example in age, gender, etc).  Some of the expertise of Chinese Medicine is an ability to discern beyond what may seem obvious to others.  Palpation (careful touch) of the pulse, feeling along the meridians which flow on the arms and legs, and inspecting the tongue are all important steps in coming up with the true picture of a person’s health.

However,  for weight loss (and other conditions) there are a series of “typical” kinds of cases.  But as anyone can tell you, life isn’t like a textbook.  This is why while we can offer a few universal type bits of advice, to be more confident in making meaningful traction on a weight loss (or other) kind of case, people should plan to stick with a program for awhile.  This is another common problem people seem to have – impatience with what can be a lengthy process.  There are certainly fast, quick ways people resort to in order to lose weight (say, the “Lemonade Diet” – a book that can even be found in Wegmans), but without laying a firm foundation (of understanding and habit) the chances are great the weight will come right back, and with it depression and lack of traction.   More profound and personal and energetic changes need to occur, and acupuncture, herbal medicine, and our food therapy advice can help you make tremendous strides.  We are so fortunate to be here in this space, right next to the Kula Yoga studio.  A daily practice, such as yoga, can be so important to the process.  We are also next to InJoy personal training where the trainer works one on one with clients in a very private and safe environment.  If possible, please do try to begin a personal daily practice of yoga, meditation, walking, or exercise.  

In our clinic, we try to understand the root cause of your current health situation.  (Not just eating too much, but palpating and really deeply understanding your body’s presentation, and understanding the types and quality of foods you eat and when you eat them).  For different people, we may recommend different foods.  Foods carry with them different qualities, such as yin and yang.  Dependent on the time of year, the time of day, and the person themselves, different kinds of foods may be recommended to be the most sensible to maintain a healthy weight.

We frequently make this example.  In Chinese Medicine, the spleen is the organ most responsible for processing the foods we eat into vital, usable energy.  Some manifestations of a poorly working spleen include weight gain, low energy, and loose stools.  The spleen has certain preferences.  For example, there is a tendency for it to work best on a very regular eating schedule.  So, if you are able, please try to arrange meals to be at the same time daily.

The spleen is also easily damaged by the cold.  This is why there is a tendency for us to frown on icy drinks.  The Chinese culture has a longstanding love of tea.  Tea is supportive of the yang (warming energy) of the body, and is usually served warm.  There is actually a good bit of research about the consumption of tea as a benefit to losing weight, easily found online.  Please try to consume warming drinks and foods in the morning, especially in the cold months.

The morning is the yin time of day.  The winter is the yin time of the year.   In the morning, it is best to think of the spleen as a digestive fire.  If we consume something cold right away when we rise, this is not energetically ideal for the proper functioning of the spleen.  Everyone is an individual, but this is more or less universally true.  We recommend people refrain from cold drinks, cold yogurts, kefir, etc., in the morning.  Start your day out with something warming – warm grain cereal for example, and your spleen will be better off.  Ginger tea is an excellent choice, or if not that any other tea drunk warm.

As you can see, food therapy can be quite detailed.  If you are curious about this, and think you could be committed to trying out changes for at least a couple of months, then please contact us and we can schedule you.  Whatever changes you decide to make, you should stick with them for awhile.  There is a longstanding cultural tendency in China to begin a new practice for 100 days.  Whatever changes you make, therefore, try to maintain them for at least 3-4 months for them to “stick” best.  They will soon become second nature for you.

Remember it is the new year, 2018.  Already, people may feel that they have missed an opportunity to start a better habit.  But remember that it is also nearly the Chinese New Year, which starts in February.  Millions of people across the world celebrate this extraordinary festival of renewal.  It remains an amazing time to try new things and cultivate new habits.  Happy New Year!


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