Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Taoist 5 Elements Nutrition - Spring

Even though we might not think about it much, the food we eat is a form of medicine in that everything that goes into us has some kind of effect on our body – either therapeutic or harmful, it does something to us. We can begin to look at our diet (lifestyle eating habits) as a powerful way to change our health. From a mind-body-spirit viewpoint, food can be used to affect our physical bodies, our emotions, and our sense of purpose in life.

According to Taoist philosophy and Chinese medicine, the Spring season most strongly affects our Wood Element. This includes our physical Liver, the emotions of anger-frustration-resentment, how we respond to stress, and the spiritual potential of being kind and benevolent. Our Liver stores and cleans toxins out of our blood, so it is very important “spring clean” and support our Liver during this season.When our Liver is clogged up or over saturated with toxins that have built up we can experience a variety of health problems like food intolerances, digestive discomfort, physical pain, moodiness, PMS, deteriorating eyesight, finger and toe nail issues, too much anger, and being overly sensitive to daily stress.

Here are some nutritional suggestions for Spring, Liver/Gall Bladder health, and overall lifestyle considerations:

Suggestion #1: ENJOY your food! What fun is it to eat in a way that isn’t delicious and satisfying? This is all too easy to do with things that are fat and sweet, but what about things that are just good for you, like fruits and vegetables? When you eat healthy, think about how wonderful you are being to yourself.

Suggestion #2: Consciously let your food stimulate all of your senses. For example:

Touch/Feel – cut and prepare your food in a way that feels good to your mouth. Do you love to bite into a whole fresh strawberry, or do you tingle all the way down to your fingertips when you eat chopped strawberry pieces on top of hot oatmeal?

See – use several colors together so that when you look at your food it reminds you of a beautiful painting. Imagine a bright green salad with a little bit of chopped white chicken, deep yellow mango chunks, and a pop of little red cherry tomatoes.

Smell – incorporate your favorite spices so that you savor the smell. Pears sprinkled with ground cardamom… mmmm….

Hear – play some nice background music while you eat. Classical, jazz, or acoustic guitar can create the perfect atmosphere.

Taste – mindfully delight in the flavor of your food. Add some fresh home-grown Basil to a salad or pasta sauce, close your eyes, and thoroughly relish each bite.

Mind – use your sixth sense as an intention to allow your body to absorb all of the healing energy from your food. When you eat fresh greens, chew them well, swallow, and feel their energy washing over your Liver.

If you need any help in this area, watch one of the cooking shows on TV and see how the famous chef’s present beautiful scrumptious works of art on their plates.

Suggestion #3: Try to use locally grown organic foods that are naturally growing from the Earth right now. For Spring this is mainly leafy greens and baby vegetables. From your own yard pick some dandelion leaves (that have not been treated with chemicals), wash them, and either put them in a salad or pour some boiling water over a handful to make an infused herbal tea.

Suggestion #4: A fresh juice of carrots and apples is great for your liver! If you have a home juicer, use 4 carrots, 1 apple, and add a few sprigs of parsley (makes 1 serving). If you don’t have a home juicer, get a chair massage at The Oriental Healing Arts Center then walk across the parking lot to Organic Oasis Restaurant and they will make a great fresh juice for you.

Suggestion #5: Goji berries, also known as Gou Qi Zi in Chinese medicine, are becoming popular and easy to find. Very healing to the Liver (when used in moderation as opposed to excess), they are a great edible “herb”. Cook a tablespoon into your oatmeal, or sauté a small handful with chicken or green beans and walnuts. (available at The Oriental Healing Arts Center)

Suggestion #6: Use the “51% Rule”. With all of the above suggestions, try to do these things 51% of the time. Too great a change can lead to frustration or failure, while incorporating a smaller change can still give you good results and you can realistically succeed!

To learn more about cooking with edible herbs for Spring/Liver health, sign up for my workshop on Saturday May 16, 4-6pm. (see details at www.touchoftao.com)

No comments: