Written by: Lisa Forsythe, LAc
Eating healthy does not guarantee health. Ancient Chinese physicians understood nutrition critical to healing. It’s not just what we eat. The key is differentiating need and want, as well as what type and when. Let’s explore how healthy eating is far more complex than thought plus how to benefit.
Dr. Bo-Shih Ni states, “People mistakenly think if they eat healthy food, drink more water, and take vitamins, they will be healthy. Not so. Healthy food is good only when you need it. When hungry and need food, it’s good, but eating without hunger is unwise. Eating when you want but not when you need causes trouble. The key is need and want.” This is true whether consuming organic kale or wild salmon. Ingesting food when not hungry burdens the digestive system. Overtime weakening of the gastrointestinal tract results in poor nutritional absorption, dis-ease, and poor immunity.
Westerners think they can eat whatever they want, whenever, and how much without suffering consequences. Asians cultures view this practice as foolish, even sinful. It is considered an abuse against nature. Modern culture looks towards technology to have all the answer when it is our body which knows best. Do you need to eat the entire entre, salad, and desert? At what point are you full? When is need ignored over want? Healing requires forgoing want to pay attention to need. “Pay” is a verb.
Clarification is in order. Consistent poor food choices like fried, fatty, sweet, artificial, processed junk foods create illness. Fresh, naturally grown foods are always optimal. However; when starving in the desert, a bite of bad food won’t kill us. Hunger is the signal the body is prepared for more food intake. Not hungry for a meal? Skip it. No appetite at breakfast? How much did you eat (or overeat) for dinner.
Chinese Medicine theory affirms internal organs deteriorate as we age. This is why what, when, and how much we ate earlier in life no longer works as we age. Listening to our appetite’s signals serves us well. Just because food is pleasing to the taste does not mean we should be a slave to desires. “Stop when it tastes best” is a solid principle for determining right amount. Eat with positive thoughts, without distractions, and free from emotional stress to aid nutritional absorption.
How is your digestion? Do you have 2-3 well formed stools per day? Do you look pregnant or have bloating after a meal? These are signs of a burdened and sluggish digestive system. Cold hands/feet or hot hands/feet indicate s poor circulation due to impaired nutrient absorption. Those suffering from constipation, acid reflux, diarrhea, or IBS often take medications that mask symptoms. Then, they continue to eat what they please damaging their systems further. How can this make sense?
Excess consumption, poor quality, imbalanced diet, or unwise eating habits not only weaken digestion but also immunity. It is extremely critical to note that even healthy food choices for some will not be for others. Example, citrus and tropical fruits like bananas weaken those with poor digestive tracts further.
This simple yet profound advice isn’t taught in acupuncture schools nor found on the internet. It originated from The Yellow Emperor’s Outer Canon, a medical text lost 2,000 years ago. We are fortunate Dr. Ni has obtained countless pearls of wisdom passed down through generations of masters. Patients come to our clinics for one reason- to feel better. Eating healthy is the foundation. But it does require effort for “talk does not cook rice”. Those who follow recommendations have increased opportunity for restoring health and cultivating longevity. Happiness is choices, consume wisely
“Excess causes one to forget what is proper and good, and to become careless. “ ~ Inner Classic