ABOUT DIETARY THERAPY
Traditionally in Chinese medicine, it is assumed that people will be taking care of themselves. This means, eating well, exercising, and taking care of one’s emotions. The primary role of a Chinese medical practitioner is to encourage and help people to do so. It is a matter of fact in Chinese medicine that eating well is one of the pre-requisites of good health. Food is the most basic form of medicine. In fact, Chinese doctors consider that acupuncture and herbology should be used only if diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes do not produce results. In modern society, exactly the opposite is true. Dietary changes are the last thing on people’s minds, when they should be the first. Many of the ailments that people suffer from in the modern world – allergies, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, etc. – have a link to diet. Even if a condition cannot be treated with diet alone, there are few circumstances in which a person’s overall health cannot be improved with proper dietary changes.
WHAT IS DIETARY THERAPY
Dietary therapy is the use of foods to both treat and prevent illness, and to promote health.
IS DIETARY THERAPY THE SAME AS NUTRITIONAL COUNSELING
No. Western nutrition is based on the knowledge of the nutrient composition of food. There is an external standard of good-for-you and bad-for-you based on the food composition of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and non-nutrient compounds (fiber, phytochemicals). Chinese medicine feels that this is only one part of food dynamics, and discusses foods according to their type (grain, vegetable, fruit, legume, nut, seed, meat, fish, etc.) and to their individual properties (including temperature and nature). Thus, each food has its own unique properties, and dietary recommendations are based on aligning these properties with a person’s constitution.
WILL I LOSE WEIGHT
Many people find that weight loss occurs with healthier eating. Unless someone is specifically trying to lose weight, however, Chinese medicine stresses eating appropriately for one’s physiology. Weight loss and other health benefits will occur naturally.
DO I HAVE TO EAT CHINESE FOODS
No. The principles of Chinese dietary therapy can be applied to all types of foods. A healthy diet can vary greatly in terms of foods that are eaten. The most important thing is to have regular meals that are made from fresh, whole, unprocessed foods.
IS IT DIFFICULT
Eating well does not have to be difficult. Chinese medicine resolves many of the complicated issues people face when trying to evaluate all the varying diets that are popular at any given moment. Following Chinese dietary suggestions does take some work, a willingness to learn, and a commitment to change. Considering the results that take place, it is worth the effort.
WHAT TYPES OF BENEFITS WILL I SEE
Almost all conditions respond positively to dietary changes. More energy, normalization of weight, improved digestion and increased immunity are benefits that most people experience. There are also specific benefits concerning gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, cardiovascular illness, and hormonal function.