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Nutrition is one of the pillars of health, including for our mental health.  Before taking any supplements, a few dietNutrition - Amber Hincks Acupuncture in Beaverton, ORary changes can make the biggest difference.  And often a 20% change can make an 80% impact.  There is no perfect diet for everyone, but there are some principles of nutrition that can guide us toward better habits while still finding joy in food.  I tend to go back to Michael Pollan's simple guideline:

Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.

Michael Pollan's Food Rules is a good starting place to rethink your diet (though Omnivore's Dilemma and Botany of Desire are also fun reads by Pollan).  Here are some key takeaways from Food Rules:

  1. Eat food - ingredients you can recognize, not highly processed food-like substances.
  2. Eat mostly plants - especially leaves, and keep meat portions small
  3. Eating healthy is common sense.  Don't make it complicated.
  4. Pay more.  Eat Less. - I think this is just something we have to come to terms with, though cooking for yourself you can find ways to save.

A few things that I emphasize when talking about diet, is that we need to be careful about labeling things as bad foods.  Our mood can impact our digestion too.  We can break our food rules and enjoy ourselves.  Whatever we are eating, we should savor it and appreciate the flavors and nourishment it provides.  A relaxed mind while eating means better digestion.  Many find that their digestion is better when they slow down to focus on eating or when they are gathered with friends and family sharing a meal.

Chinese Medicine has some dietary insights too.  Most importantly, eat for the seasons and the climate in which you live and also for your unique constitution.  Eat cooling foods in summer and warm foods in winter.  For example, you may be able to tolerate eating ice cream in summer, but in winter get phlegmy and congested.  In general, if your digestion is weak, avoid eating raw or cold foods, dairy and greasy foods.  Typically lightly cooked vegetables like squash or yams, along with rice and small portions of meat are good staples when trying to improve your digestion.  Also, many herbs and spices are good for our digestion and health, so make sure to include these in your cooking.  Cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric - these are all great anti-inflammatories.

There are 3 ways to go about reducing calories if you want to reduce your weight: time restriction, caloric restriction or food restriction.  Using all 3 of these categories is a solid approach, but often focusing on 2 is enough.

  1. Time restriction - reduce the hours of the day that you eat.  Also known as intermittent fasting, though it need not be extreme.  It may just mean that your first meal of the day isn't until 10 am and you are done eating by 8 pm.  I personally think it is better to eat breakfast and move the last meal of the day earlier, but most people find this difficult for lifestyle reasons.  Also, don't fast while you are trying to get pregnant, some studies indicate fasting reduces fertility.
  2. Caloric restriction - this is calorie counting.  Many apps like Noom are available to help you track your calorie intake.  This doesn't mean you will have to do this forever, but it can be a good way to recalibrate how much food you actually need.
  3. Food restriction - this strategy is to avoid certain foods, which often leads to a lower caloric intake.  It also helps you to focus more of your calories on things that make you feel good.  This could mean eliminating sugar or simple carbs, or soda.  Things that you know are not good for you.

If you are looking for more inspiration around nutrition and food, here are some recommendations.

Read more on the blog:

Winter Chai Smoothie Recipe

Nutrition - Amber Hincks Acupuncture in Beaverton, OR

Dr. Amber Hincks LAc FABORM
Beaverton, OR