Christmas: Time to Overload or Overhaul your gut?
Its time to pull out the tinsel, decorate and celebrate, over-spend, over-eat, drink and be merry, connect with loved ones, avoid loved ones, give, receive and rejoice! Christmas time can certainly be a potential minefield when it comes to remaining balanced and living healthily!
I mean we’ve all experienced that celebratory night out which left us feeling completely out of sorts for a day or two (maybe 3 or 4 for the over 40’s!). The symptoms are pretty obvious – they dramatically affect our entire body physically, mentally, and emotionally (I’m sure I don’t need to go into gory detail).
But what happens when our body is giving us small, almost insignificant, signs that we are stressed and not balanced within, but we either don’t recognise the sign or more commonly, push through and tolerate them? Well we eventually move further and further away from our sense of balance and wellbeing and before we know it, the current state in which we are now living seems the norm. Your body is now working extremely hard to keep up with your demands!
Oriental Medicine can help bring the body back into a state of optimal health. Some of these chronic health conditions could be manifesting for you as:
- Reflux / heartburn
- Bloating / flatulence
- Lack of appetite / nausea / vomiting
- Difficulty losing or putting on weight
- Always feeling tired and rundown
- Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed
- Bowel irregularities – sluggish, loose, constipated
So where do we start? The GUT!
I mean, without the energy to nourish the mind and body effectively, its only natural that health problems of one kind or another would arise. More to the point, there is not a single health issue that in some way does not relate to digestion.
The immune system, for example, can only perform its protective functions (resistance to disease) if the nutritive system upon which it derives nourishment is serviced appropriately. By creating a lifestyle that supports the body’s natural capacity to nourish the organism, immunity will take care of itself.
In terms of Oriental medicine physiology, it is the Earth element comprising the Spleen and Stomach that is responsible for carrying out this directive.
Below are 3 recommendations for creating a happier digestive system – but rather than just employing them over the Christmas period, see if you can make them part of your approach to food and digestion in general.
Eat the breakfast of an Emperor; the lunch of a King and the dinner of a pauper…
According to the Chinese Medicine body clock, Earth’s time of day is 7am-11am, which is therefore deemed the most appropriate time of day to eat a nutritious meal because there is the most energy available for digestion at this time.
Consider for a moment what most of us do – skip or have little breakfast, and then at the opposite time of day, around 7-11pm when there is the least amount of energy available for digestion, we have a full-on meal!! No wonder so many weight, energy and digestive problems abound.
If we follow the above analogy and do eat a reasonable breakfast and lunch and then less for dinner you will notice that you need less sleep and you gain more energy! If you think of the body as the vehicle you drive around in, then would you ever consider (if it could be done!), driving all day on an empty tank then filling up the tank and putting the car in the garage for the night? It doesn’t make sense does it?
When we don’t live in accordance with this cycle, we will suffer problems with our energy levels, digestion, menstrual cycle and sleep.
Don’t overdo cold and raw foods…
So what do you have for breakfast? It should be nourishing, energising and warm, providing enough stamina to feed the entire system. Since energetically that is what needs to occur. Eating only, say, fruit for breakfast every day helps people whose system is already clogged and is good from time to time as a clean out, but if you lack energy, are overweight, have low blood sugar, menstrual problems or feel the cold readily, then this can severely damage your Earth Qi (energy) which will then damage your digestive system and ultimately create havoc in the entire system.
Instead try eating:
- oats or brown rice porridge with stewed fruits, cinnamon and nuts
- a nourishing soup – miso with tofu, noodle soup with vegetables
- sourdough toast with hummus, avocado, tomato
- scrambled, poached eggs or omelettes with spinach and mushrooms/ham/smoked salmon
- buckwheat crepe with tuna, spinach, mushrooms and goats cheese
These foods provide sustenance, vitality and strength. They are nourishing and healthy. Consider drinking herbal tea instead of regular tea or coffee – or have that after 11am if you must. Breakfast doesn’t have to be hard work, it just requires a bit of planning. Eat less at dinner and warm up the leftovers for breakfast – soups and stews work well here, especially in winter.
Chew, chew, chew….then chew some more!
If you say you have no appetite at breakfast, then this is a sure message that your Earth Element Meridians are depleted and not functioning properly. To break the imbalance, start by eating small amounts of warm foods and minimising raw and cold foods.
When it comes to losing weight, it is a misconception that skipping breakfast or only eating fruit and salads will make it happen. The inability to lose weight as well as easily putting weight on are Earth dysfunctions. Since Earth likes warmth and moisture, eating an abundance of cold and raw foods serves to weaken Earth’s functions and eventually it becomes a vicious cycle of eating little and gaining more.
So try switching to warm foods, having smaller but more frequent meals and chew every mouthful until it is mushy before swallowing. I can’t stress this last point enough. Most of us do not chew our foods well enough – that’s what our teeth are for!! That’s their job, and they serve us better if they are used to full capacity.
Also saliva is the “juice of the Earth” and chewing our food well stimulates the flow of saliva, mixes it with the food to begin the process of digestion before we swallow it. Earth loses too much energy in digesting food that comes in cold, raw or unchewed.
If you are experiencing any health concerns and interested in how Oriental Medicine may be able to help, please contact Kim on 0416 219973 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a treatment plan.