Here we are, after the feasting of Christmas and the sedentary life of wintertime, wanting to shed those extra pounds, to fit back into that favourite shirt and feel fitter and more energetic. Or maybe the weight has crept on slowly over a long period of time. Chinese medicine offers a new way of understanding weight gain and this, combined with acupuncture treatment, can help you lose weight.
In Chinese medicine, our life-force and energy is called Qi. Qi is made from the food we eat and the air we breathe. Food is digested in the stomach and if this digestion process is working well it will lead to good clear Qi that circulates freely around the body and gives us strength, energy and good health. However, if digestion is incomplete, it leads to a poorer quality Qi, which is heavy and slow and settles in the tissues. Chinese medicine calls this Damp and it is the equivalent of what most people call fat. Acupuncture, and learning more about improving your digestion, can reduce Damp and weight gain and give you more energy. Acupuncture by itself can clear away Damp, strengthen your good clear energy and promote weight loss. And because acupuncture makes you feel better, you will find it easier to make the necessary changes to your eating habits.
In some respects, the advice about eating is what you would expect. It is sweet and fatty foods that are most likely to produce Damp and therefore reducing them will help you to lose excess weight. However it is not only what we eat that matters, it is also how we eat it. Several things affect how well the stomach can digest food – the better the digestion is the less likely it is to produces Damp (and excess weight). Firstly, food should be warm whenever possible, and frozen or iced food and drink should always be avoided. Warm food is much easier to fully digest into good clear Qi. Secondly, the stomach works best in the morning and needs rests between digestion times. So eat regular meals, enjoy breakfast and avoid large meals in the evening. Thirdly, the stomach’s digestion, like all physical aspects of body function, is greatly affected by stress and our emotions. To produce good clear Qi, and avoid Damp and weight gain, food should be eaten in a relaxed situation when the mind and body are at rest. This means finding ways of avoiding eating ‘on the go’, while sitting at our computers, dealing with family disputes or other stressful circumstances. Other advice will be tailored to the individual. For example, some constitutions are helped by gentle exercise after eating, while others benefit from sitting down with your feet up – when in doubt listen to your body (and your acupuncturist!).
Pick one of these suggestions to begin with. Acupuncture will work alongside any changes you can make and your practitioner can fine tune the advice to you as an individual. Clearing Damp from your system will not only help you with your weight, it will also increase your energy and sense of wellbeing and lighten your spirits. A great New Year resolution!