Dear Acupuncture in the Park,
Whenever I read anything about Chinese medicine and dietary therapy, it says to quit eating raw vegetables and fruits. Is that true?
It’s true that avoiding a lot of raw foods is an important component of Chinese dietary therapy, but let us explain. Raw vegetables are really good for you, but they’re also harder to digest than when they’re cooked. That’s because it takes longer for you to break down a raw food and turn it into the energy and nutrients that fuel your body. However, it only becomes important if you have problems with your digestion or struggle with fatigue.
If your digestion is good, then go for the raw stuff. But if you experience symptoms like heartburn, bloating, nausea, the feeling of a lump in your throat, rumbling, constipation, loose stools, or a poor appetite, then you would benefit from cooking your food to help “predigest” it.
Your energy is tied to how well you digest your foods, too. If you’re fatigued during the day, feel tired after eating, or if your energy is up and down, chances are you’re not eating the right foods or getting the maximum energy from what you’re eating.
So, Bugs, here’s my advice: If you have good digestion and good energy, eat all the carrots and salads you want. But if you have funky digestion or low energy, try cooking your veggies. Here are a few suggestions:
-Try to get your vegetables in the form of soups, stews, and stir fried dishes. Or simply steam or saute them before eating.
-Want a salad? Cut a head of Romaine lettuce in half and throw it on the grill, cut side down until it’s slightly charred. Let it cool and top it with your favorite dressing.
-You can benefit from cooking your fruits, too. Try making a fruit compote, a fruit crisp, or sauteing your favorite fruits (tropical fruits excluded) in a little water with a dash of cinnamon for a minute or two.
-If your digestion is really off, make a congee, which is a rice porridge that can be flavored any way you want. Slowly simmer one part rice to seven parts water over a low flame until the rice is tender. Don’t drain any water off, it should be thick, but slightly watery. You can make it into a savory soup by adding soy sauce or broth, scallions, ginger, (or whatever seasonings you want) and a protein. Or you can make it suitable for breakfast by adding raisins or dried cranberries, nuts, a dash of cinnamon, and a bit of honey or maple syrup.
Keep eating your vegetables and fruits, Bugs. They’re really good for you, but eat them in a way that gives you the most benefit.
Acupuncture in the Park