The Chinese view food as medicine that you get to eat three times a day. Food can nourish, heal, and give you energy.
Simple, right? Well, maybe not so simple if you are trying to lose weight, maintain your weight, cut out carbs, ditch the fats, or restrict your diet in ways that are unhealthy. If this is the case, then for you food may feel a little bit like the enemy.
My initial topic for this post was truths about weight loss. However, as I began writing, I realized that the greatest truth is this: How you approach food and eating is a mirror to how you approach life.
In the clinic, I see busy professional women who only have time for a quick bite on the run, often from the nearest fast food place and eaten in the car or standing up. I see people who are depressed and unhappy eating out of control as a way to fill the void in their lives. I also see joyless clients who restrict their diets to within an inch of their lives—no carbs, no fats, no sugar, no this, no that.
Food is medicine that you get to eat three times a day. It also feeds your soul. In Chinese medicine, your heart is the home to your Shen, which is the mind, memory, consciousness, and spirit. While these activities are attributed to your brain in Western medicine, we intuitively know that your heart is also an organ of feeling and spirituality. In fact much of our language about the heart refers to it as an organ of feeling. Terms such as someone “tugging on your heartstrings,” “knowing things in your heart”, or having a “broken heart” are speaking to an emotional and spiritual organ.
So what about eating to feed your heart and soul?
- As the home to your soul, your Chinese heart is all about connection—to the divine (however you perceive it), to yourself, and to loved ones. Sitting down and sharing a meal with people that you love is heart-nourishing.
- Preparing a meal with love honors your heart. It’s not about the ingredients, but the preparation. However, choosing tasty recipes and fresh ingredients are also part of the process.
- Eat out hunger, celebration, love, or sharing, not boredom or stress.
- Be thankful for the food you’re eating and the company you’re eating with. Remember food is nourishing and life-sustaining—not your enemy.
- While ingredients are secondary to feeding your heart, there are foods that are not life-sustaining. These are “dead” foods that have been overly processed and contain chemicals that you body doesn’t recognize as nutrients. Avoid them like the plague.
- In Chinese medicine, the color red is associated with your heart. Red wine and cooked tomatoes have been shown to benefit the physical heart. Also good are berries, red peppers, and apples.
- Celebrating the seasons through food is also heart nourishing. The freshest foods of summer eaten outdoors or a sitting down to a hearty winter stew by a crackling fire are ways of connecting with food, loved ones, and creation.
- Finally, the emotion related to your Chinese heart is joy. If you eat with joy, you will live your life with joy.