Navigating Through the Myriad of Dietary Recommendations
Daily we are exposed to various messages telling us what we should eat; often one message conflicts with the other. Oriental Medicine offers the guidance of looking for balance; overeating in any one direction often causes imbalances. Overeating fatty fried foods causes a reaction in the body, as does overeating raw foods. For each person what defines overeating varies; our bodies have different sensitivities to different foods.
The Chinese perspective also seeks to balance the body within the context of its environment including climatic factors. Warm soups and cooked foods are more dominate in winter, while fruits and salads are consumed in the spring and summer, which naturally corresponds to when nature produces these foods.
Moderation – extremes in anyone direction tend to cause difficulties for the body, eg no saturated fat (eg butter) removes from the body an important resource in building strong cell walls and making hormones. Often low fat foods came with high sugar to make them taste good so a good balance is not achieved.
Eat according to the season – if the weather is cold then provide the body with warm hearty foods that allow the body to warm and fuel itself.
Honor your body’s sensitivities – if it doesn’t do well on raw food then eat cooked food, if it doesn’t do well on certain fats or meats then use other options. If your body doesn’t do well without meat then include meats in your diet. Experiment a little as what you were raised eating may not suit you.
Make choices based on your constitution and health concerns – if your cholesterol is high then moderate oils and fats, if you tend to run hot then more cooling foods help.
Minimize processed food – processed foods have evolved for convenience and profit margins as the less real food in a product and the longer it lasts on the shelve reduces cost to the manufacturer. It does the opposite to the human body which has not evolve to digest these new ingredients, we tend to digest this food poorly creating byproducts with unknown cost and detriment to the body.
Include a variety of foods – this assists the body in finding all the fats, proteins, sugars, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and bacteria it needs to function smoothly and maintain health.
These are not rigid rules; most important is to listen to your body’s needs, what is good for one person may not be the best thing for another.