Winter is here, bringing holidays, parties and feasts.
Ah, yes, food–
Nothing in life is more fundamental than the food we eat. Every day the choices we make about how we nourish ourselves, and it is these choices that can have a profound effect on our well-being.
Traditionally, a great deal of time went in to selecting and preparing meals. Ingredients were whole, minimally processed foods, and largely made up of cereal grains (whole rice, millet, etc) and vegetables. People stopped what they were doing to gather with friends and family, to eat, replenish and show appreciation. Today the trend in industrial portions of the world has moved from these traditions. Modern diets include increased animal products, processed and refined foods, additives and preservatives with little (if any) whole grains or vegetables. Many of us have taken to eating meals in a frenzied manner, barely even tasting the food we ingest. At the same time we have seen a tremendous rise in degenerative diseases, cancer, nervous disorders, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, irritable bowel and Attention Deficit Disorder –to name a few.
For many, the relationship to food has become a tainted chore. Poor eating habits like eating to fulfill emotional needs, skipping meals or binging are common, creating a myriad of other health problems.
Understanding proper nutritional habits can be some of the simplest, most profound changes that one can make in taking responsibility for our health and the well-being of the planet.
Holistic Nutrition incorporates the energetic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine theory and detailed, cutting-edge western information. Steeped in tenants of whole food wisdom, Holistic Nutrition focuses on whole, local, organic and seasonal foods that offer the best choice for optimum health for our bodies and our planet.
The fundamental aim is to create awareness in ourselves, matching the diet to each individual while reestablishing or creating a healthy relationship to food.
The key is moderation. There is no ‘perfect’ diet and our needs change: shifting with seasons, life stages and times of illness. It is not just choosing the freshest food that matters—it is also how and with whom we eat that nourishes our entire being.
Over thousands of years the Chinese have evolved a system of medicine that has stood the test of time. Its adaptability and application is even used in nutrition! All foods can be identified by their energetic quality—do they warm the body? Cool it? Descend the energy? (good for those who are “ungrounded”), eliminate excess or counter deficiency? By understanding these qualities, one can choose foods to specifically treat patterns. Someone who is always cold, would want to increase foods that are cooked (warmer than raw) and choose foods that impart energetic warmth when eaten, such as, winter squash and cinnamon. By eating seasonally appropriate foods we can also aid our bodies in adapting to the seasonal change and build our immunity.
Besides energetics, flavors play a role. Each of the 5 flavors enter a particular organ system. By either increasing or decreasing a flavor you can address specific disharmonies. For example, a runner with very tight tendons would want to avoid excess sour that enters the Liver and overly astringes the tendons. But for someone with very loose muscle tone, that need to be tightened, the sour flavor may be appropriate.
From a western perspective foods are most often viewed by their nutrition quantity. How much vitamin C? Iron? Carbohydrates? By understanding these concepts and the role proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals play, one can identify how to improve the diet for over-all health. For example, iron deficiency (called blood deficiency in Chinese medicine) is common in many vegetarians. Utilizing concepts from both an eastern and western perspective, foods can be selected that are both blood building and high in iron, thereby possibly avoiding the need for additional supplementation.
Everyone can benefit from improved nutrition. From the young to old, sick to healthy. Foods can reduce symptoms, heal and strengthen.
Above all, the food we eat should be enjoyed—and provide nourishment for mind, body and spirit.
Contributed by April Crowell, Dipl. ABT, CHN, AOBTA CI