In the quest for healthy eating, Dr. Google gives you plenty of advice. Don’t eat gluten, sugar, dairy, and red meat. Eat raw. Follow the Mediterranean diet. Follow the Paleo diet. Don’t drink caffeine, alcohol or soda pop. Eat organic. Eat antibiotic and pesticide free foods. In the age of information overload, finding the perfect diet can be down right confusing. And with so many restrictions, it makes it a challenge to enjoy food or know what to eat at all.
So if you cut gluten, sugar, and dairy from your diet and you feel deprived and unhappy, Chinese medicine says that you are out of balance. But there is more to the art of healthy eating than what you physically stick into your mouth. It is just as important to nourish your mental/ emotional and spiritual well being in order to live a healthy and balanced life. Chinese medicine believes that what you eat (and don’t eat) is just as important as how and when you eat it.
My aim is to put more joy back into your eating experience while affecting your overall health. Note, if you have celiac disease, are lactose intolerant, or have any known food allergies or intolerances, you will want to stay away from triggers you react to.
5 Tips in the Art of Healthy Eating:
1. Sit and chew your food well
Instead of shoving it down your throat, eating on the run, or in front of the computer, thoughtfully chew your food (first part of the digestive process). This not only helps your digestion but has you be mindful and helps your brain signal your body when you are full and prevents over-eating.
2. Have healthy treats once in a while to feed your soul
If you are following a specific healthy diet regimen, you can give yourself permission to treat yourself once in a while (10-20% of the time) without having an negative impact on your physical health. If chocolate is your vice, give yourself permission to buy organic dark Belgian chocolate (rather than a chemically laden Mars bar that has no expiration date) and eat with reckless abandon. If you love the ritual and the taste of coffee, drink a small cup of organic (pesticide free) coffee once or a couple of times a week (in excess of 200 mg per day leads to risk of toxicity especially for pregnant women, children and those with liver disease).1
3. Make ‘treating’ (as opposed to ‘cheating’) meditative and therapeutic
Here’s what you do: Close your eyes and savour the flavour. Smell and taste your coffee or chocolate and chew it slowly to make it an orgasmic experience! That would be enough to nourish your soul.
4. Stop judging yourself in what you (or others) are eating
Labelling yourself or others as “bad” or “good” depending on what you eat is unhealthy. Eating something “bad” may be a bad choice but does not make you a bad person. This type of self-judgement is tied directly to guilt and shame, both of which can negatively impact your physical as well as mental and emotional well-being over time.
5. Share and enjoy food with others
We have been eating since the beginning of time and it has always been a communal experience. Sharing food with family, friends, and colleagues (who you want to connect with) affects your natural healing response. It brings more relatedness, laughter, and joy to your life leading to “physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits”2.
Whether you are looking to lose weight, get pregnant, or be healthier overall, this is how to eat, drink and be merry!
1. T. Crozier et al, “Espresso coffees, caffeine and chlorogenic acid intake: potential health implications,” Food & Function Issue 1, 2012
2. R. Mora-Ripoll et al, “The therapeutic value of laughter in medicine,” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 16.6 (Nov/Dec 2010): 56-64.