Balance. This practice embodies being diverse, flexible, moderate and in harmony with your own rhythms and needs.
Chinese Medicine utilises a variety of tools outside of Acupuncture and herbs to re-establish the delicate swing of the Yin Yang pendulum. The modification of lifestyle habits, physical exercise, meditation, practices of mental discipline and diet, are all viewed as powerful therapies and give the client their power back as they seek optimal health.
The nourishment of both body and mind is a serious matter, and arguably the most important foundation of a healthy life. Unfortunately, even the most health-conscious individual often neglects this essential aspect of living. With serious health issues and eating disorders including Orthorexia on the rise, any dietary approach that imposes severe restrictions is flawed. This includes dietary preferences from Veganism to those diets demonising all carbohydrates. Although there is nothing fundamentally wrong with adopting this approach to eating, many people fail to assess whether or not their food choices are suitable to provide the nourishment they personally need. This is a confusing task, as many will claim that dietary guidelines should be in alignment with ethics and morality. Despite the best intentions, the link between ill health to the dietary restriction of choice is often overlooked.
In the West, our diet conforms to the demands of the fast-paced lifestyles we lead. In an attempt to meet a lifestyle of constant striving and productivity we overstimulate our systems with foods associated with affluence and the good life. Unfortunately, these food choices often fall under the category of high fat, high sugar and high protein-laden, putting our bodies under increased stress and losing touch with what is good or feels good for us. A distorted attempt at balance impacting our relationship to food, starving ourselves to rid the excess weight and overeating as a substitute for emotional nourishment and pleasure.
The alternate is an extreme reaction from the holistic health movement idealising and overemphasising purification and detoxification through juicing, fasting, raw food and diets. Again, disconnection is emphasised as we are focused on the belief of what we are told is good for us, rather than how the diet makes us feel long term. Dietary recommendations are approached in a standardised, rigid way without any concern for the individual. The “perfect diet” prescribed for everyone, regardless of their condition. We are taught “feed everyone according to the same rules”, leaving us feeling alien, misunderstood and unwell.
In Chinese Medicine, who we determine what is most beneficial for us to eat. And what we eat is considered to affect the expression of who we are. This is of stark contrast to the restrictive and often extremist trap many of us fall into when following these diets, Chinese Medicine encourages a more balanced philosophy. Moderation, intuitive eating, slowing down and embodying mindfulness are all encouraged. Diet is tailored to the individual according to their constitutional type and underlying patterns of imbalance are identified and treated with a “food as medicine” approach. Considering the climate we live in varies, our rate of metabolism differs, we experience contrasting health diagnosis and our constitutional types have different requirements, adhering to a strict diet based on someone else’s experience is crazy in comparison. The key to understanding this system is the acknowledgement that no one diet is best for everyone, we are all unique and for systemic balance, our diet must reflect that.
Personally, after an extensive period of disordered eating through my teens and early twenties discovering Chinese dietary therapy was a saving grace. It encouraged me to discover how my body thrived and develop an intuitive approach to eating. Rather than striving to strictly adhere to my diet of choice, and restrict based on a distorted reality of perfection, Chinese Medicine sparked a change for me. I was able to digest life again, feel worthy of nourishment and embrace balance. Now as a health practitioner, I regularly witness the health of my patients flourish as they integrate this approach to diet and lifestyle into their own lives. They find empowerment in understanding that their body is, in fact, working with them and that the symptoms of ill health they are experiencing are a communication tool. These imbalances signify where you may be out of alignment in your own life, and lovingly nourishing your body through your relationship to food is the perfect starting place on your journey to health.
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