The other day we talked about the late summer and the Earth element. According to the Chinese medicine, the Earth element is represented by the spleen-pancreas and stomach and it regulates the “center” which we can see as the digestion system. The Earth element also harmonizes the effects of the four seasons.
Today I give you 10 general tips how to maintain a good digestive function. How many of these rules you already follow, let me know?
1. Don´t eat in a hurry. Sit down on the table, have a positive attitude and take your time. Meals should be moments of joy. Try to avoid discussions and avoid talking about things that can generate tension or discussion. Eating with a bad and angry mood blocks the liver’s energy and digestion will not be good because the liver attacks the spleen / pancreas / stomach. Energetically speaking it blocks the free movement of energy and blood and makes the digestion not working correctly.
2. Chew well. Digestion begins in the mouth. Chewed foods are mixed with saliva that contains enzymes responsible for starting the chemical process of digestion, forming the bolus. In addition, the body has to spend less energy if food enters into the stomach well chewed instead of having to receive large pieces of food.
3. We do not need to drink during the meals. In special, don´t drink soda or other sugary drinks and cold drinks, they weaken our digestion. If you are not thirsty, do not drink while you eat. The metabolism prefers a warm / hot environment, “stomach fire “ we call it in Chinese medicine. Cold and ice drinks cool down this environment and digestion will not work properly. Also too much liquid in the stomach weakens the gastric juices and protein digestion will not be effective. If there is a need to drink, the best option would be to drink digestive infusions, broths, or soups.
4. Don’t eat too much at night.
Dinner is not the most important meal of the day. It should be light and simple. A steamed vegetables or vegetable cream or wok with some protein is enough. We don’t need bread either dessert after the dinner. And if you cannot eat the dinner around 19-20, then a vegetable soup or cream may be just enough. Try to leave at least 2 hours after the dinner, before going to the bed.
5. Eat food and not products.
Reduce the amount of products in your kitchen and buy only quality raw material and learn to prepare easy and delicious meals. Everything is achieved if there is a desire, joy and love towards your body and yourself. Try to buy local, seasonal, natural and organic products.
6. Avoid eating refined sweets products and eliminate sugar in the way you can from your diet.
Although the flavor of the Earth element is sweet, it does not mean this sweet taste of sugar our palate recognize. The sugar in Chinese medicine is called “du” which means “toxic”, something that is best to avoid. The sweet flavor of the Earth element is for example the sweet taste that cereals offer us. Eliminate refined products: cookies, pastries, etc. from your kitchen and start reducing the amount of sugar you add to your coffee, yogurt etc. Try other sweeteners such as stevia or coconut sugar among others and use always when you can ripe fruit or fresh dates to give sweetness to your dishes.
7. Eat regular and respect your eating routines.
You have to eat regularly and you should have a certain routine in place instead of changing every day the time you eat or eat constantly every hour. There are many contradictions about how many times we should eat a day. The answer is “it depends on the person” and their needs and energy status, whether there are diseases or not. It is true that the organism has a self-cleaning mechanism that works naturally. It is known as MMC (migratory motor complex). It means that the intestines and stomach cleanse their inside of bacteria if they are empty of food. If we eat every 2-3h this mechanism does not start, therefore we weaken our defenses in one way. It is important to learn to feel the sensation of hunger and eat when the body asks for it, especially those people who have a problem with their weight. Personally I eat 3 times a day and take a light snack before doing sports.
8. Do not fast long or very often.
Long or constant fasting weakens the digestive system energetically, especially those who are already deficient. It is better to have kind of “cleaning days” in place, and eat on those days less and for example only cooked vegetables with broths. Long fasting is extreme and not beneficial to everyone.
9. Have a good organization in place and make the planned changes happen, take action.
A good organization is the basis in everything. If we don’t know what we’re going to eat when we go to the supermarket, we buy everything we shouldn’t buy. Organize your menus and purchases once a week and you will see that everything is lot more easier and not only your digestion thanks you but also your pocket. The same applies in the kitchen than in the life: nothing works if we don´t take action. If you have decided to make nutritional changes, start with only one and do it. Be responsible for yourself and your health and force yourself to do it. Tell this annoying voice inside of your head who always tries to avoid you to follow with your dreams “Thank you but I don’t need you, go away.” And you repeat it so many times that it is necessary. And remember that you get everything when you want!
10. Move and connect with the nature
Physical activity increases the metabolism and accelerates the digestive process, promotesintestinal transit, reduces stress and digestive symptoms and ultimately improves the control of appetite. Movement is necessary for our body. If you don’t like doing sports then just go for a walk in the forest, touch the earth, work in your garden, smell the flowers and connect with the earth.
Pictures: Wendy Stephan.