Unlike Western nutrition, which focuses mainly on the individual components of the foods we eat - namely carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and calories - TCM nutrition also considers the energetics of each food. So while Western nutrition often mentions things like "superfoods" that are supposedly beneficial for everyone, Eastern nutrition takes a much more customized and individualized approach to nutrition.
Foods are classified by temperature and general energetic functions. For example, alcohol, coffee and spicy foods are warming foods, while cold foods include green tea, asparagus and soy. Energetic functions include concepts like "move qi" (i.e. peppers and onions), "tonify yin" (i.e. black sesame seed and black beans) and "drain dampness" (i.e. mung beans and pearl barley). When deciding which diet fits best for a patient, the practitioner will first consider the patients constitution, and then the energetics of the pattern diagnosis.
During pattern diagnosis, the practitioner will decide which organs and channels are involved, if the disease is hot or cold (i.e. patients feels hot and sweats a lot vs. a patient feeling cold all the time), and if it is based in deficiency (i.e. weak digestion leading to lack of energy) or excess (i.e. accumulation of stagnant energy causing severe pain). Then, based on this diagnosis, a list of foods will be picked that will work at balancing the energetics of the patient.
For example, a patient may come to see the acupuncturist with menopausal symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats. The TCM diagnosis for this is "Kidney Yin deficiency with deficiency heat". What this means in laymen's terms is that the body, which is a balance of water (yin) and fire (yang) is starting to get unbalanced.
Roasted Fall Vegetables
Fall is here, and the local farmers' markets are rich with a variety of vegetables: zucchini, eggplant, carrots, beets, a wide variety of wild mushrooms, heirloom potatoes in vibrant colors, winter squashes like pumpkins or acorn squash. A great way to prepare this abundance of vegetables is by simply roasting them. The vegetables in the recipe are only a general guideline, they can easily be replaced with any vegetables you have on hand.
3 carrots, cubed
3 heirloom potatoes, cubed
1 zucchini, cubed
6 mushrooms, halved
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 cup sugar peas or green beans
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary or thyme or a blend of both.
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix vegetables in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix oil, vinegar and chopped herbs. Toss vegetables with oil mix. Put onto large bar pan or 9x12 pyrex dish, season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast vegetables for 25 to 30 minutes, turning once, until done.
Healthy Foods 101
the plentiful and constantly changing news about the health or dangers
of foods, many people feel at a loss about which foods to buy. Should
you buy local, or is it more important to buy organic? Are all prepared
or quick-fix meals bad for you? How about genetically modified foods? Or
corn syrup? The list goes on and on.
general, it is preferable to prepare all meals fresh and use only
organic local ingredients. In reality, however, many of us need to rely
at least sometimes onto prepared foods, and finances often don't allow
for organic local foods all the time. So here are a few tips on how to
eat and shop healthy on a budget without having to spend hours in the
which foods tend to have high levels of pesticides and other harmful
substances, and try to buy these organic. Here is a link to an article
including food list about this topic: WebMD.com
Local foods are better for the environment because they don't have to travel far. That also makes them healthier, because the fresher the food is, the higher the nutrients content is.
for CSA, or Community Supported Acupuncture, in your community. For
example, Tanaka Farms offers weekly boxes filled with organic fruits and
vegetables that were picked the day before delivery, and several
schools in the area participate in this as a fundraising program. This
is a great way to get the freshest organic seasonal foods at a great
savings. Here is a link: Tanaka Farms.
crock pot is your best friend. Throw in some fresh vegetables and
protein of your choice with broth into the slow cooker in the morning
and cook it on low throughout the day. You come home to a healthy and
buying prepared or processed foods, read the labels. Make sure you
recognize everything listed as a food you would expect to find in a
pantry or refrigerator. Don't buy anything with ingredients you don't
recognize as foods (anyone up for some cellulose gel?) and definitely
stay away from things you cannot pronounce.
because something is FDA approved doesn't mean it's safe. FDA approved
food dyes have recently been linked to allergies, ADHD and cancer. Here
is a link to the article on CBSnews.
Joe's is a good option to start bettering your diet. Their prepared
foods are healthier than many of their supermarket counterparts. Even
though many of them are still high in sodium, fats and sugars, at least
they contain less additives and preservatives.
is bad for your health. However, there are differences in the different
sweetener options, and some are more harmful than others. High fructose
corn syrup, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners are the most harmful
of the lot and should be avoided completely. Aspartame, the chemical
used to sweeten most diet and light foods, can lead to severe
neurological problems. Watch this documentary the get the scoop: Sweet Misery.
If you get a sweet tooth, it is best to stay with minimally processed
sweeteners like evaporated cane juice, raw honey or stevia extract, and
eat those in moderation. Also, never feed honey to a child under the age
of 1 year!
Content copyright . Claudia M. Laufer, L.Ac. All rights reserved.