Using the techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine - Acupuncture, Massage, Herbal Medicine - to help people achieve balance and optimal health:
- Stop eating at 7 pm
According to the Circadian Clock which maps the energy flow in the body in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), from 7 pm until 11 pm, the energy in the digestive system is at its weakest. It does not reach full strength until from 7 am to 11 am. Overnight, the Liver and Gall Bladder energy is the strongest, which means these organs best do their job of clearing toxins from the blood at that time. If you are trying to digest food overnight, it will take energy from the Liver and Gallbladder, and you will not feel well rested and refreshed in the morning.
- Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Since the energy is strongest in the digestive system between 7 am and 11 am, eating in the morning will help you best digest your food, and absorb the most nutrients from it. You'll feel hungry if you've stopped eating by 7 pm (see above), and eating in the morning will kick-start your metabolism and help you burn more calories during the day.
- Get regular, vigorous exercise
Especially in the morning, when paired with eating a healthy breakfast, this will set you up for a great day. In terms of Chinese Medicine, getting your body moving will help move stuck energy, burn off phlegm, and will actually remedy fatigue and aches and pains. Try for at least 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercies: walking, running, or take advantage of all those Pittsburgh steps, 6 days a week.
- Drink plenty of water...and Eat Water-based Raw Foods
Hydration is not only key to weight loss, it is key to health. We need water to complete basic functions of life and often symptoms such as headache, indigestion and heartburn are actually signs of thirst, according to the book, You're Not Sick, You're Thirsty. The book give a formula for how much water we need each day: Take your weight in pounds, divide it by 2, and that number, in ounces, is how much water we should drink. So a 150 lb person would need 75 oz--or 9 1/2 eight ounce glasses--of water a day.
Another way to make sure you are well hydrated is to eat plenty of fresh raw fruits and vegetables. If weight is an issue, chances are the cool cleansing nature of raw foods will be helpful. For more information on raw foods and your specific constitution, you are welcome to call us at (412) 381-0116, or look at the book Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.
- Eat with awareness
This includes not only what we eat, but when, how and why we eat. When we eat late at night we are usually doing what Bob Greene, in his book Make the Connection calls emotional eating, or eating to make up for the shortcomings of our day. Notice throughout the day as you are eating: Am I really hungry? Often we eat when we are bored, anxious, lonely or depressed. We also eat addictively: craving a food after seeing it on TV, or overeating simply because we are not paying attention (eating while watching TV, at the computer, on the phone, reading, etc.)
- Avoid alcohol, oil, and processed foods
Alcohol and processed foods, especially hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, high fructose and regular corn syrup, highly caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda, and fast foods are very taxing on the Liver. According to the Traditional Chinese Medical idea of the circadian clock, Liver and Gallbladder function best between 11 pm and 3 am. If your liver is overworking to clear alcohol and other processed foods from your system, it will not be able to efficiently clear toxins from the blood and eventually you can end up with those toxins deposited in the joints, with symptoms of achiness and pain in the joints, as well as feeling groggy in the morning and tired during the day. I've heard athletes say that they notice a dip in performance after even just one glass of wine the day before. And to see an amazing chronicle on the effects of fast food on the liver, rent the DVD Supersize Me.
Acupuncture is a great way to support healthy eating and weight loss. Acupuncture can help check emotional eating, and can treat underlying causes of slow metabolism or weight loss difficulty.
Melissa and David Sokulski
The Birch Center for Health