Many years ago, I visited my acupuncturist in New England because I was feeling sluggish and experienced digestive issues following eating most meals. While my diet WAS “healthy,” he pointed out that most of my meals, including beverages, were cold. I’ve always loved green, super salads and iced tea, coffee and water.
He suggested that I try “warming” my foods. Given that it was summertime, I was very hesitant and we know old habits die hard sometimes, right? Fast forward 20 years and here’s the advice of another expert in this area.
It’s my pleasure to introduce you, my readers, to my newest guest blogger, and friend, Marilyn Jackson, a Licensed Acupuncturist who has some thoughts on warming foods.
I often get a puzzled look from patients when I suggest they cut raw foods and cold drinks out of their diets, which includes their beloved salads, smoothies and ice water, in favor of more warming, cooked food and drinks.
Don’t get me wrong. I love fruits and veggies and all of the essential nutrients they provide. I’d just prefer them to be cooked or at least room temperature, so your body doesn’t have to exhaust valuable energy on their digestion.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is a centuries-old medical system, which includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy among other holistic modalities. TCM views digestion as the core of all bodily functions. If digestion isn’t working optimally to extract nutrients from the foods we eat and for elimination, it can directly affect our energy levels, our mood, even our immune system.
In TCM theory, warming “yang” energy is required to essentially “cook” the food you eat, so your body can absorb the nutrients and discard waste. When you eat uncooked or cold foods, your body has to work even harder to digest it.
Some people tolerate cold foods better than others, especially when the weather is warmer in the summer months and your body naturally craves more cooling foods. But, some clues that your digestion might be out of balance due to too much cold in your diet include symptoms like bloating, cramping, fatigue, and even feeling cold in general after meals that include a big salad, lots of fruit or a smoothie.
Try opting for lightly steamed or roasted veggies. Soups are always a great option, and trade in your iced water in favor of lukewarm or even hot water. If you love salads, there are some workarounds I offer patients:
Try adding in cooked grains, cooked veggies, and warming spices like ginger or pepper, along with your raw greens to offset their cooling properties. If you’re a smoothie-lover, try skipping frozen fruit, adding spices like ginger or cinnamon, or letting your smoothie warm to room temperature before drinking.
While these tips might seem strange at first, I find that they often help people tune into what their body needs and craves. Not only do patients report improved digestion and less bloating, many tell me that they love their lukewarm water and can’t imagine ever wanting iced again, or they find themselves not missing their salads and craving soups. Give it a try for a week, and see how you feel!
These simple tweaks can make a big difference, but if you’d like to go deeper or have an even better understanding of what your body needs, I recommend finding a licensed holistic practitioner to work with who can create a plan that tailored just for you and your wellness goals.
Ice-free beverages and adding grains to raw salads help hugely with digestion.
Marilyn Jackson is a Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist based in Connecticut. She is passionate about helping her patients access their body’s innate ability to heal using holistic techniques rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She sees patients locally in private practice and offers remote health coaching for clients who aren’t able to work with her in person. Visit her website at www.marilynjackson.co or follow her on social media at @marilynjacksonlac.
Thank you, Marilyn, for this very informative and yet gentle nudge to try something new.
Yes, habits can be hard to change, and especially when one craves cold food, especially in the summer. I gave it a try and have never looked back. I’m ice-free with all of my beverages and always ask for tepid water at restaurants. I have to admit, I “feel” more “anchored” and energetic when I eat foods that have been warmed and I don’t have the digestion issues anymore, either. It did take a bit of adjusting in the summertime, but, I can speak personally that “feeling better” outweighs the old habits. Try it, you might like it!
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