Fifteen years ago I got sick and no one could figure out what was wrong. My body was breaking down and I had no idea why. That is a scary place to be.
I was not going to lie down and take “I don’t know what’s wrong with you,” as a valid answer, nor take the pills prescribed for a problem unidentified. I knew it was not just “all in my head,” (which some things indeed are, as the mind has tremendous power over your health). So, I took matters into my own hands, confident that healing was on the horizon.
In my pursuit to heal my body, I explored all healing modalities including Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, and it was then that my eyes began to open. It was suggested by a practitioner that my diet might be affecting my health, and following her instructions, I changed my diet, eliminating certain foods and adding in others. I felt better. Not perfect, but better. That was my first exposure to how food might affect the body, and it gave me hope that I could indeed heal. It also revealed the power of food and the wonder of its Creator. Since then, I have continued educating myself in food and healing, making it a primary focus of my practice as a Health Coach, and also in my daily life. As I do so, I continue to be in awe of what God has made available to us.
Food is nourishment. When used properly, it supports, feeds, and fuels the body. Through food, your cells are given energy to function optimally, and replicate healthfully. Your tissues, blood, and even your thoughts are nourished by what you eat on a daily basis. I, like many others, never made the connection between what I ate and how I felt – not beyond the typical bloat associated with eating too much on Thanksgiving Day or when I indulged in too much cake. I didn’t realize how dairy was giving me sinus problems, how gluten was the source behind my brain fog and sluggishness, how processed foods were contributing to my chronic pain, or how sugar was giving me restless leg syndrome and anxiety.
The body is made up of systems of organs that all work together. Your spleen, stomach and pancreas are a unit that works with your gall bladder and liver, which supports your lungs and large intestine, helping your heart and small intestine, and fueling your kidneys and bladder. They all work together. They are all essential. When one is ill, the whole suffers. And thus, paying attention to network or one organ influences the whole body. That in itself shows the amazing creations we truly are.
In Chinese Medicine, everything about food matters: how and where it is grown, the directionality of the food (does it point downward, upward, in or out), the color and the flavor (sweet, salt, pungent, sour, spicy), and how it is cooked or not cooked (raw). All these factors affect these organ systems and thus, your body in different ways. This is called the energetics of food. For instance, black/blue is the color that corresponds to your kidney/bladder unit. It is not surprising to find that science is now proving that blueberries, seaweed, and other black/blue foods support those organs. Tomatoes and pomegranates nourish the blood vessels (and the insides of these fruits look like blood vessels too!) Orange (sweet potatoes, carrots) supports your spleen/pancreas unit and green aides your liver/gall bladder function. Ironically, or not, we find that in Spring we are provided with an abundance of green vegetables to aid the natural detoxification that takes place in the body at this time of the year! I could go on and on, citing examples of the beautiful dance between food and the body.
Everything you eat has energy, and that energy fuels your body, allowing you to function optimally and fulfill your purpose. Therefore, food’s role is to maintain health through a proper dietary plan, ensuring that food is beneficial to the body and preventing disease. That also means that if food has the power to heal, it also has the power to harm. Too much of the wrong foods, and too few of the right foods can create an imbalance in the body that allows opportunistic viruses, bacterium and other pathogens to survive, causing strain on your immune system and setting the stage for disease. Other factors such as stress, environmental contaminants, emotions, thoughts, genetics, and lifestyle also influence your overall well-being. Food, however, is a primary component to health, and something you can easily control.
Yet, so many people struggle with diets and eating well. Why?
Because we are so far removed from the beauty that is food and convinced that food products are better for us than actual food! We are also told that every body is the same, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
You are unique and require different nourishment than your neighbor. The key to good health is to find out what works for you. Across the board nutrition guidelines don’t work. Some people need more protein, others more carbs. Some people are amazing vegetarians and others feel weak without meat. We need to honor our bodies for what they are, and what stage of life we are in – adapting according to our needs.
Chinese Medicine respects the individuality of each being. It also recognizes that certain foods may be healing for one, but damaging to another. Learning about Chinese Medicine taught me the interconnectedness of this world; of human life and the earth; of the intricacies in the body. It showed me that this Earth works with us to support our bodies, and heals us when needed.
When I drink peppermint tea to calm a headache, or eat a baked sweet potato to ground myself and quell anxiety, or even when I have too much chocolate or sugar and can’t sleep all night – I am in awe of food. When dandelions pop up just in time for allergy season, offering a respite to my clogging sinuses (dandelion tea helps detox the liver, and calm inflammation created by allergens), I am in awe of the connection between food and the body. I am in awe that God created a world that works in synergy with the human body, predicting its needs and offering remedies.
Understanding that cancelled any doubt in my mind that there is a Creator of this world, there is purpose and there is abundance.
In that I find hope.
In hope I find peace.
In peace I find healing.