The other day I talked about the basics of the Chinese Dietary therapy. You can read the article here: https://www.paivilinna.com/what-is-chinese-dietary-therapy/
Today´s topic is “ How to eat according to our energetic state? ”.
Thousands and one theories about the healthy diet
We live in a world with many theories about the healthy diet and that makes it sometimes difficult to know what is really good for us. Butter is bad, butter is good; eggs raise cholesterol, eggs do not raise cholesterol, raw food is good, raw food is bad, and a long etc. The different views on healthy foods change all the time; according to the most recent scientific studies, according to different fashions and fad diets and according to.., honestly speaking, sometimes difficult to know.
Today we know practically everything about the macro- and micronutrients, but no matter how advanced our knowledge about the food is, there are always studies that introduce something new and discredit others.
Eat with common sense and follow the rhythm of nature
Personally, I love the vision of the Chinese Dietary therapy because it brings eating and nutrition closer to the common sense and it is at the end a lifestyle, not a diet. There are no restrictions in terms of calories, it is not limiting and it is not strict. It aims to have healthy but happy people at the same time. Therefore, it is important to know our personal energetic status since that determines what and how we should eat.
It understands that life cannot be a continuous diet. It follows the rhythm of the nature, where the human being is included as part of it. It has existed for thousands of years and has not been manipulated by economical or other interests and it aims to be preventive. It is much wiser to react when it is not too late.
The basic of Chinese Dietary therapy: the individual energetic state
The basic in Chinese Dietary therapy is to know the individual energetic state. Do we want to eliminate cold or heat, do we have a weak organism, which needs to be nourished and tonified, or an excess organism to clean or both at the same time etc.? To have a complete and deeper diagnosis, we should visit a practitioner of Chinese medicine. However, we can perfectly start making small changes in our diet by knowing the basics that determine our energetic status and that is my goal for today: give you simple and easy guidelines so that you can start experiencing some changes already today.
Fresh, local food
The first thing to do is to start eating fresh food that is free from chemicals, preservatives and excessive processing. These foods are the ones that bring more vitality and good energy to our body. Buy local and organic food from the farmer´s market for example. When we eat seasonal foods, we are most likely to eat according to the seasonal energies, which is good.
Trust on your gut feeling
Observe and think about how certain foods make you feel after eating them and trust this personal feeling you have. Don´t believe everything what Mr. Google or the ads say. Our body is wise and what suits well for the others doesn´t have to suit for you and that´s OK.
Get rid of those foods you eat in excess, and then start adding new things in your diet
Before buying new supplements and superfoods you should first stop eating those foods you know you eat in excess and start adding things you hardly eat or don´t eat at all.
Cold versus Hot
When we are talking about the energetic status, the first basic thing is to understand whether one has tendency to be more Cold or Hot type of person and then how the symptoms are.
A cold person is always feeling cold, his hands and feet are cold, he doesn´t like the cold weather and he possibly has a pale face, he is tired and he might catch a cold very often if his defensive energy is deficient. If his stools are also watery and there is some diarrhea, those are typical signs of lack of Yang, i.e., lack of heat.
How cold type of person should eat?
This type of person should not eat food that is cold or fresh from its thermal nature because these natures have a cooling effect and they increase the symptoms of cold. The cold type of person should avoid overeating cold and fresh foods, like: salads, raw vegetables, iced drinks, tropical fruit etc. especially in wintertime and now in the autumn. In spring this person can eat a little bit more foods with fresh nature and in summer the thing is different since the hot weather helps to neutralize the cold or fresh effect. However, those persons who are more cold type of persons and they are also having digestive deficiency issues, it´s better not to eat too much salads, raw food, drink cold etc. because the digestive issues could get worst with sharp pain, bloating etc.
Feeling tired after eating is a typical symptom of a weak digestion. Cold can also cause menstrual cramps for women, because energetically speaking cold stagnates the tissues and blood and that causes pain.
A very cold type of diet weakens our digestion and therefore the whole organism. It is recommended to start cooking all the vegetables for example, just few minutes, so that they would not be 100% raw and would difficult the digestion. In case of loving salads its recommended to add hot or warm herbs and spices into the salad, add some cooked cereals, or vegetables to neutralise the cold/fresh effect of the green leaves and raw vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers.
The fruit is also generally cold-fresh from its nature, especially tropical fruit. If there are symptoms of cold, it is better not to abuse and try to eat for example oven baked apples or compotes. Juices and green smoothies are highly cold fresh from their nature and therefore not suitable for everyone, especially if there are signs of weakness in the body. If you like green juices or smoothies, please try to “yanginize” it as much as possible by adding hot-warm types of herbs: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, or make mixtures with cooked foods, hot herbs or fruit compotes to neutralise the overall effect. Remember also that energetically speaking the best time to make detox based on green juices is in spring. In autumn we can do cleaning but the most recommended way is a gentle cleaning based on broths, soups where the vegetable abounds with some good quality cereals.
A person who has chronically weak digestion, even a glass of natural still water might cause abdominal pain. Imagine what a cold beer can cause to this person? Our digestion needs heat- fire to be able to process better the food we eat and not to waste excessively energy by doing double work.
How is a hot type of person?
A person who is more hot type from his energetic state might have symptoms like: hot flashes, he is sweating easily, he feels hot, may have red eyes and /or face, headaches, he has a character with a temper and he gets easily angry and /or he is always in a bad mood. For this type of person, it is not convenient to regularly take ginger or cinnamon infusions, because the heat will increase in his body and his condition can get worst. It is not good for him either to drink too much coffee or alcohol. These drinks increase heat in the body and cause dryness together with nervousness. This type of person should eat rather neutral-fresh types of foods to calm the hyperactivity in his body.
It is also possible that the person has what is called “fake Heat”, that is, Heat due to Yin deficiency. With Yin we understand all the organic liquids of the body, of which the blood is part. Getting Yin deficiency symptoms is something “normal” when we get older. We lose liquids and we get dry. Think of a person of 80 years vs one of 20. If we have Yin deficiency, heat symptoms might appear but it does not mean that we have too much heat, but instead, we are lacking og Yin. For example the modern world, stress, burnout, consumption of drugs and chronic illnesses make our Yin deficient too early. It is also typical in women during the menopause that they have heat symptoms (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, excessive and or constant sweating) due to lack of Yin, among other things. In this case it is best to eat as neutral as possible, neither cold nor hot, nourishing the liquids and eliminating the excessive sensation of heat.
Dampness is like mucus inside our body and can be dirtying our intestines and digestive organs, making it difficult to breathe in the lung or also in the reproductive organs causing infertility problems for example. Also many musculoskeletal diseases such as rheumatism are aggravated by dampness as it blocks the joints. Dampness can come from living in a cold-humid place or from working every day in a cold environment. But I would say that the most common reason for people having dampness today is because their digestive energy is very weak and because we eat highly processed food, refined sugar, dairy etc. That is why we get dampness and it stuck inside our body. Due to the nature of dampness, if the person does not make changes in his eating habits and diet, it´s very difficult to get rid of the dampness, no matter how many treatments he would try. It will always come back as the origin is in the food he eats.
How do we know when we have dampness issues?
The typical symptoms are: loose and smelly stools which dirty the toilet, stools without a form, there might be mucus in the stools, but also in the lungs. If we have mucus in the lungs our breath is strong and heavy, we might be spitting this mucus when we are coughing, our tongue have white and dirty layer, we have bloating and swollen abdomen. The person also feels heavy, have headaches with a sensation of having a helmet in his head, the person has problems to concentrate.
We generate dampness in our bodies if our digestive organs are lacking energy and we are eating lot of dairy, especially based on cow´s milk. Also, all excessive refined sugar and processed foods with preservatives and bad quality flours cause dampness. Eating raw food, salads and drinking beer also help with the creation of dampness. First we weaken the energy of the spleen-pancreas-stomach and as we continue to eat badly, dampness begins to appear. In case of having dampness, it is useless to do treatments or take supplements if the person does not do changes in his diet and eating habits. You have to reduce the amount of bread, cookies and pastries you eat and if possible, directly eliminate them from your diet.
For example, changing cow’s milk to sheep´s or goat’s milk can gradually reduce the symptoms and also the fact that the persona reduces the amount of daily dairy he is consuming. We should also stop the daily consumption of beer or refined beverages and we should not eat desserts every day either, especially if they are based on dairy products.
As we have seen, it is our energetic state that determines how we should eat and what we should eat. Therefore, generalized diets from my point of view do not usually work well because they do not take into account this important and personal part. The energetic state is not a fixed state, it changes according to the age, according to the season of the year, according to how we live etc. Therefore it is important to understand the basics and learn to listen to your own body and eat according to the changes and finally, according to what suits the best for you.
If you liked this article, please share it with your friends so that they can learn how to do little changes in their diet too and feel better. I would also like to know if you have any comments or questions regarding the topic. Please do not hesitate to ask! I try to get the ebook as son as possible translated in English too, so that you can check the list of different foods and their thermal nature and flavors.
Pictures: Päivi Linna