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Acupuncture and Nutrition

Posted: 07 May 2017 by Chris Dance

Nutrition makes up a significant part of my practice. I have an real passion for healthful eating, and am blessed that embedded in Chinese medicine is an extraordinary knowledge of food energetics and healthy digestion. I combine this with a modern-day understanding of diet and an empathy for modern lifestyles to maximise the advice I can give on one of the most basic of lifestyle factors - eating.

One of the things I love about diet and nutrition is that we are in control. It might not feel that way at times, but ultimately it is only ourselves that puts food in our mouths. Sure, we might be drawn to eat things we would rather not on occasion, and comfort eating or feasting can be the downfall of many of us, but it is always our choice. Getting into really good habits and routines around our eating is central to healthy digestion. One of the tenants of Chinese medicine though is that what we put into our stomach is only ever half the story. What our body then does with it is the other half. So "We are what we eat" isn't true - "We are what our body does with what we eat" is more accurate!

Because acupuncture can directly improve the performance of our digestive systems, nurturing it to function better and turn more food into energy (and less into fat), the treatment, along with very basic dietary changes, can often bring about significant benefits to our digestion. This in turn can help so many things - energy levels, mood, chronic pain, sleep, anxiety, IBS, bloating. I've even had ulcerative colitis patients whose symptoms have become fully managed by acupuncture and diet.

I'm a big supporter of my patients NOT going on diets. I believe in the importance of making sustainable changes, however small, so that it is our lifestyle that shifts. Much better than a 2 week purge then going back to "normal". For this reason, it is important to know what the best changes are for you. And that isn't a "one size fits all" solution. I tailor this to each patient depending on your unique energetic state, lifestyle and symptoms.

From 2010 to 2015, I lost 27kg. I was technically obese and could only see my weight (and corresponding health) going in the wrong direction. I was determined to make sustainable, healthy changes, and this has certainly made me an advocate of good nutrition. Many of the ancient Chinese dietary "mottos" are becoming more popular and widespread nowadays. Some that I found really helped me in my journey are:

Enjoy your food - and eat mindfully away from distraction, screens, and stresses.
Eat at regular meal times - 3 times a day roughly 7-8 am, 12-1 pm, and 5-6 pm.
No snacking - our stomachs need to be left alone to digest the meal, not constantly topped up.
Eat "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper" - my evening meal is usually the smallest of the day, albeit packed full of flavour.
Avoid "Damp-forming" foods - these are essentially foods that encourage the body to form mucousy, phlegmy and fatty matter, that can lead to many types of ill-health. The big ones are sugar (in all forms), dairy (especially cow's produce), and wheat. (Since I have given up eating sugar I haven't had a cold since - I used to get 3/4 a year!)

Individualised advice is readily a part of my acupuncture sessions. If you'd like to find out how your health can be improved with acupuncture and diet, just get in touch.

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