Eastern Dietary Therapy
What is it?
Eastern Dietary Therapy is also known as yin shi zhi liao fa, or Chinese medical dietary therapy. As the Western medical model is discovering, proper nutrition is essential for health. Traditional Chinese Medicine has known that healthy eating is a crucial part of maintaining health for at least 2,000 years. The Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic) is the fundamental canon of Chinese medical theory, which was written no later than 200 BCE, and it contains references to healthy eating – so you can see that it is not some passing fad diet. Even Hippocrates, who is considered the father of Western medicine said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Chinese medicine has a similar saying:
“Yao shi tong yuan.” / “Medicine and food [share] the same source.”
Many modern acupuncturists use Chinese medical dietary therapy in conjunction with acupuncture treatments. What you put in your body on a regular basis often has the same, if not greater, effect on your body than acupuncture. When advising changes to diet, your constitution and current pattern of disease are considered to tailor the changes to exactly what your body needs at that moment in time. As you progress and your pattern changes, so may your dietary needs. Like acupuncture, this is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to health, although many of the recommendations work for most people.
For example, the base of your diet should be what is considered “clear and bland” – not too spicy, not too sweet, not too salty, not too bitter, and not too acrid. This kind of diet is the easiest for your body to process and does not tax or weaken the organs involved in digestion. From this clear, bland base, specific recommendations can be added to help treat your pattern of disease.
For example, a diet filled with too many sweet foods (such as the Standard American Diet or SAD) like soda, processed foods, sugary snacks like candy, sugary deserts like ice cream, etc., is difficult for your body to digest, so your Spleen and Stomach (main digestive organs) become overworked. Over time, as their qi is depleted from working too hard for too long (amongst other life stressors), you will begin having problems with digestion – such as loose stool or diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, undigested food in the stool, bloating, gas, and weight gain or trouble losing weight. So that daily ice cream that you used to eat without problems can now make you sick to your stomach.
Treatment for this example will include acupuncture to help promote movement and digestion as well as strengthening the organs, but without dietary modifications, you will continue to have digestive issues (which may progress into more serious or additional conditions). Expecting otherwise is like expecting to lose weight after eating one healthy meal a week or getting in shape working out for 30 minutes once a week – it takes time and consistency for results to develop.