Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Articles
Food as Medicine, How to Have Healthy Digestion
by Patricia Kowal, Licensed Acupuncturist in Noosa
My teacher, always taught us that profound improvements are made in a person’s health through their dietary choices. Medicines and non-food supplements to a person’s diet may not be necessary if you choose a healthy diet and learn to enjoy healthy foods. Improving your knowledge on these subjects can help you maintain health, look and feel younger and have more energy to achieve your goals. For me this was a learning process. Being mindful of the food I was eating and how it made me feel helped me towards my path of using food as medicine.
Many people I see have problems with their digestive system: bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn or nausea. Adjusting the way in which you eat and by using these tips can help you not only use food as medicine but reduce negative symptoms of poor digestion.
If you have started down this path in the past with no avail, do not give up! Start again slowly and use these tips to help you on your way even if it is one at a time.
Find out which healthy foods you enjoy eating and incorporate them into your meals. Think about choosing various colored vegetables to get a diverse supply of vitamins and minerals in your diet.
Monitor the pace of your eating, notice if you are eating fast or slow.
Slow down when you eat. By eating slowly you will feel satisfied sooner than if you tend to eat quickly. By eating slowly you are able to feel the fullness in your stomach sooner then if you finish your meal in a few minutes.
Eat with less stress. After a busy day or during a busy day take a moment to yourself. Try a deep breath before eating to help the body feel calm before digesting food. Stress can cause digestive problems such as constipation, bloating and heartburn.
Pay attention to the way certain foods make you feel. Do they make you feel tired or do they make you feel pleasantly satisfied and energetic? The goal of eating meals is to provide us with the fuel we need to keep moving. Therefore our meals should give us energy, not make us tired. If you feel tired often after eating perhaps you are eating too much and not recognizing when your body is starting to feel satisfied.
Drink room temperature water or hot water/tea with your meal. You stomach does not like cold; it makes it work harder in order to digest cold temperatures. It is a given in most restaurants to serve ice water with your meals. Cold or icy water tends to slow the digestive process making it harder to digest your meals. By choosing warmer fluids or water with your meals can help you feel better after eating and improve your digestive health overall. Once you start choosing warmer drinks with your meals you may never go back to the ice water after all!
Choose slightly steamed or sautéed vegetables over raw foods like salads. This is not to say you should not eat salads, but more frequently choosing foods that are already slightly warmed up makes it easier on your digestion. Try it! You may notice a difference.
Ginger is a common natural herb in Chinese herbal medicine to aid digestion by calming an upset stomach. Choose ginger tea for an after meal digestive aid or grate raw ginger into some hot water for a stronger effect. Add a small amount of honey for a sweeter treat as dessert!
Disclaimer: Please follow up with your practitioner if you are unsure or are having questions about the information contained in this material.