Fundamentals for healthy eating
Creating good healthy eating habits is super important to maintaining our health and wellness as we age – just as important as what you eat. We often fall into eating habits based upon our busy work schedule or family life and don’t always think about the affects they can cause years later. Our poor eating habits can contribute to poor digestion (bloating, constipation), insomnia, weight gain, pain in the joints and more. Whenever I begin working with clients to improve their food choices we always spend some time incorporating good eating habits too.
Foods in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) have certain properties and affects on the body after eaten. Cold food can exacerbate a cold feeling in the body and spicy food can add fuel to the internal heat you may already feel inside. Grilled or baked foods have a drying affect on the body and stewed foods and soups have a moistening affect.
Some foods are helpful for building our bones, hair, muscles, cells, fluid and energy. These include carbohydrates, protein and fat found in animal products, nuts/seeds, legumes, tubers/root vegetables and whole grains. Although they are highly nutritious, if we eat too much of these building foods it can create some stagnation inside, which could create inflammation in the body, joint pain and digestive issues.
Other foods have a clearing or moving quality to them…they often have fiber in them which helps to clear away built up toxins and helps the bowels to move. They include legumes, whole grains, green vegetables, bitter melon, sweet potato, seeds, fruit and bitter greens.
Having a nice mix of building and clearing foods is perfect for most people, but sometimes our health issues are far more complex and long standing, so get professional help from a practitioner if you can.
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- When your body recognizes what you’ve just eaten it can break it down and digest it more efficiently. Good digestion is the key to our health & vitality and focus on eating real whole foods can be a very effective way to eliminate abdominal pain/distension, bloating and constipation. Whole foods (not processed or commercially packaged) not only builds and supports our body but it can help to heal our digestive system – reducing its exposure to irritants and its heightened immune response.
- Improving your daily food habits is just as important as eating a whole foods diet. When habits related to eating improve many see the weight loss they desire, sleep improves, energy improves and digestion improves.
- The traditions of our elders can offer so much richness to our meals and the sharing of those meals. Even if you didn’t have the opportunity to experience it when you were younger, there is still time to impart some of that wisdom and tradition for your friends and family now. Cook together, laugh together and eat together. Food should be prepared and shared with love.
- Cooking our food makes it easier to digest it and although it may lose a bit of nutrients in the process, it is easier for the digestive system to break down and use…which means better extraction of nutrients and easier assimilation. Too much raw foods require more energy from the body to then break it down, slowing transit time through the intestines, contributing to digestive issues. On the other side you don’t need to over cook your vegetables (especially as the weather is getter warmer) so keep a bit of crunch to it to help maintain nutrients and good fibre.
- Eating for your constitution is super important when trying to improve our digestion and vitality. Don’t focus on foods that will make your condition worse. If you are thin and always cold, eating cold, raw food will just make you feel cold and won’t help your digestion. If you have an inflammatory condition such as arthritis or joint pain, drinking alcohol, eating dairy, lots of animal protein or fried foods won’t reduce your inflammation.
Cindy is a registered acupuncturist, certified Pilates instructor, holistic nutritionist and a foodie. She works with her patients to support their whole body health, emphasizing self care, living a positive life and nourishing the body and mind. Cindy is the owner/creator of My Fit Over 50, a website dedicated to health of women through menopause.