Healthy Eating from an Eastern Medicine View

Teresa Lau's picture

When we think about healthy eating, it is not only what you eat but also how you eat. Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) emphasize the regularity of meal times as important to maintaining health. Irregular eating patterns, such as eating late at night, skipping meals, and over- or under-eating can negatively impact the digestive system, leading to symptoms such as acid reflux, gas, and abdominal pain. Moreover, emotional stress or excessive mental activity during mealtimes, e.g. working lunches, watching tv, reading email, etc, could interfere with proper absorption of the nutrients in your food. This relationship between the mind and digestive system parallels that of the Brain-Gut Axis in western medicine. According to TCM principles, food should be eaten at an unhurried pace, in small bites, and with little distraction. This is also the concept behind the Buddhist practice of “mindful eating,” which has attracted interest among health experts and consumers as a method to curb binge eating.

Yet there’s more than personal stress and distractions that could affect your eating habits and nourishment. According to TCM, even factors outside of your control such as seasons, temperature, and humidity may affect your appetite and weaken digestive systems. TCM recognizes that choosing the right kinds of food is what brings balance to an individual between their natural cycles and surroundings. To find the balance that works best for you, start by getting a deeper insight into the state of your health!