I am frequently asked if acupuncture can help with weight loss. The short answer is yes.
Now to qualify this answer–acupuncture brings the body back into balance so everything, including your metabolism, will function more optimally. And, during treatment times we will explore lifestyle issues that may be preventing you from retaining a healthy weight.
Here are some lifestyle tips to help with weight management and digestion as a whole.
1. In the Chinese paradigm, how you eat is just as important as what you eat.
- Eat sitting at a table, relaxed and unhurried.
- Eating in the car, while watching television, while arguing with your daughter, or while working will impair your digestion and the manner in which your food is transformed.
- Sit comfortably. Look at your food. Smell your food. Taste every bite. Enjoy your meal. If you are with others, have tranquil, stress-free conversation while you savor your food.
- Chew your food thoroughly. This action will help you get more flavor from your food, will begin the digestive process as food is masticated and saliva begins to break it down, and contributes to the feeling of satiety.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.
- The stomach is at its peak between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. Your first meal of the day should be your largest, providing you with a foundation of nutrition to sustain you for the rest of the day. Continue to nourish your body and mind with a hearty lunch to help keep up your activity level through the afternoon. Conversely, the stomach’s low time for functioning is 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. It is best to finish eating a light dinner before 7:00 p.m. so your food will not stagnate overnight in your stomach while you are sleeping.
3. Eat at fairly consistent times.
- The body likes consistency. Experiment to find an eating schedule that works for you and then stick to it as much as possible. Does your body function best with three good meals? Or do you need a snack in the morning and/or one in the afternoon? The body and brain need an adequate, steady supply of material to digest and transform throughout the day in order to make acquired qi (energy force) to provide you with the energy you need to function well through the day.
4. Stop eating when you feel almost full.
- Overeating causes the stomach to have to work very hard to process food and frequently results in food stagnation and digestive problems. Stop when you are not quite full. Continue to sit at the table and enjoy the conversation. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety once the stomach is full. If you are still truly hungry after this rest, then have another small helping.
5. Eat warm or room temperature foods.
- The stomach works at a temperature of around 100 degrees. If you put cold or frozen food into your stomach, it has to work that much harder to bring the food to a temperature it can process. This effort will diminish the ability to digest and metabolize your food.
6. Drink fluids between meals.
- Have only a small cup of water or green tea with your meals. Too many fluids will dilute stomach acids and reduce the effectiveness of digestion.
7. Eat seasonally.
- Eat foods which are locally grown in season and eat appropriately cooked foods for the season. For example, in the winter we need a diet that produces more heat so we eat a little more protein and grains; and it is best to eat soups and stews cooked with winter squashes or cold weather greens and warming herbs and spices. While in the summer we need a diet to help us stay cool and light, so we cut back on meat and dairy products and eat higher water content foods, mostly fruits and vegetables. Also, in the summer we are better able to digest cool, raw foods such as salads. See the Seasonal Health pages on my website.
8. Eat what your body recognizes as food.
- Eat real foods—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats, legumes, eggs . . . The body doesn’t recognize most processed foods and additives as food. Therefore, we can’t break them down and metabolize them in a way that provides us with optimal nutrition.
Do you need a plan? If so, make one.
Here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Define your goal(s). Do you want to lose 10 lbs.? Gain 10 lbs.? Maintain your current weight? Reduce your blood pressure or blood sugar levels? Whatever it is or they are, write it/them down.
- Pick a date to start, and put it in bold letters on your calendar.
- Enroll the assistance of everyone with whom you have daily contact; tell them your aspirations and request their help to NOT offer you unhealthy or inappropriate foods.
- Clean out your kitchen. Give away or throw out all processed foods. If you can’t recognize or pronounce an ingredient in an item, your body can’t either (this includes artificial sweeteners). Also move out anything containing sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) and white flour.
- Restock your kitchen. Shop after a satisfying meal so you’re less likely to be tempted to buy processed foods. Buy only good quality produce, olive oil, high quality organic butter, organic pastured meats and poultry, and high quality herbs and spices.
- Community support can make all the difference in maintaining changes after the “honeymoon period.” See if you can get a friend, a family member, or a small group to join you in changing your habits.
As for what to eat, see my page, Food Matters and all the sub-pages.