Eat BIG…at breakfast! Breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day with each subsequent meal being smaller in size.
- Enjoy a small snack in between meals. Veggies, fruits and nuts make great snacks to keep the fire of your metabolism lit all day. When snacking on nuts make sure to eat no more than a “golf ball” size amount and avoid peanuts.
- Plan ahead. If you know you’ll be on the run all day tomorrow then make a veggie sandwich, pack celery sticks with almond butter, and a fruit and nut bar. Keep a cooler with a re-freezable ice pack in the trunk of your car.
- Eat whole foods; avoid processed foods. Check the label, if there are ingredients that you are not familiar with or can’t pronounce then don’t eat it. Also, avoid foods that have more than six or seven items in the ingredient list.
- Eat organic whenever possible! Most importantly, eat organic meat, veggies, fruit, and eggs.
- Drink water. If you need extra flavor, add fresh lemon, lime or a little bit of whole fruit juice.
- Cook with olive oil, butter and coconut oil. Avoid margarine.
- Find your motivation! It’s time to ask yourself some difficult questions. How did I get here? Why do I eat? Why don’t I exercise? How do I feel? Do I give love to myself? It’s time to let happiness and health motivate you to make these changes! Do it NOW so you can be healthy until a ripe old age!
- Move! Walk, run, jog, swim or bike for 30 minutes a day. Building muscle is important, too! It’s important to maintain bone health, strength, and flexibility as we get older.
REMEMBER: Everything in moderation. It’s important to understand that changing habits takes time, but gradually these lifestyle modifications will become second nature. Soon you will feel better and notice how you have more energy, sleep better and have fewer bowel issues.
Foods to avoid:
- “Light” or “diet” foods – These foods end up being as unhealthy or worse for you than the original versions of the foods. Foods cannot have the fat removed or calories lowered without affecting the flavor. To make them taste better, they have extra sugar, sodium, additives or chemicals. The food is more processed and less nourishing.
- Cold, uncooked foods (i.e. salads, raw veggies) – in Chinese medicine, your optimal health revolves around preservation of the body’s fuel system, which is called yang. When we take in cold food, we are asking out body to fire up the oven to do all the cooking inside the body. The key is preservation of the fire. If you continually eat cold food, you tax the body. This makes you feel tired, sluggish and sometimes causes unexplained weight gain.
- Dairy (this does not include eggs) – Chinese medicine is based in nature (i.e. the ebbs and flows of day and night, seasons, and the sun and moon). Your body is considered a microcosm of earth. Therefore, our diseases come from dampness, dryness, heat, cold and wind. When there is too much of an element in your body, imbalance is created. Dairy causes dampness in the body. In addition, the body can create dampness itself when spleen is not working. Dampness is heavy and sticky. For example, yogurt exacerbates a sinus infection and causes excess phlegm.
- Sugar – Sugar creates dampness in the body, too, but not in the same way as dairy. Sugar slows functions down, particularly in the digestive system. Sugar causes inflammation, which is harmful to your joints and heart. It causes energy crashes, reduced energy, increased triglycerides and tooth decay. Sugar is calorie dense and makes you gain weight. Sugar also affects blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Artificial sweetener – Artificial sweetener are made with chemicals. They are harmful to your metabolism and overall health. They negatively affect your blood sugar and insulin levels, and the good bacteria in your gut. When artificial sweeteners are used at high temperatures, they break down and generate harmful substances, which could raise your risk of cancer.
- Breads and “baked goods” – Your body converts carbohydrates into sugar, which causes dampness in the body. Again, damp foods slow body functions down. Also, gluten can promote inflammation and reduce gut function.
- Soy products – Most soy is genetically modified. GMOs contain pesticide and herbicide residues, which introduce toxins in the body. Soy can affect growth and sexual development in men and women.
- Corn and products with corn in it – Corn causes a low-grade subclinical inflammation of the whole body. It is difficult to digest.
- Fried and fast food – Fried and fast foods contain oil and grease, which creates dampness in the body and slows down digestion. This type of food typically is made with poor quality ingredients and oils. Introducing unhealthy fats in the body also causes weight gain and reduced energy. To be healthy, our food needs to be clean and nutrient rich. Fast foods are neither.
- Alcohol – Alcohol makes your yang, which is your fire and energy, rise up to your head. It displaces your fire source so there is a void of heat in the middle, which can create several negative effects on your body, like headaches, red eyes, red cheeks and a quick temper. It also has a negative impact on your liver. Common problems caused by too much yang on top include high blood pressure, intestinal problems, fertility problems, urinary problems, yeast infections and incontinence. Depending on the extent of the usage, alcohol consumption can cause yang to stay up. Over time, it requires acupuncture and herbal medicine to bring it down.