This article offers 7 time-tested habits of healthy eating according to traditional Chinese dietary therapy - habits that YOU can incorporate into your daily life starting NOW. While some of these habits or principles may contradict what you've learnt or been told consider this - traditional Chinese dietary therapy has developed and been refined and trial-and-error tested on literally millions of people over at least 2500 years. Simply put, what works is still in use today - what doesn't was discarded long ago. You don't need to be Chinese or even eat Chinese food. So, start applying some or all of these habits before your next meal and see for yourself.
7 Habits of Healthy Eating
1. Eat at fixed, regular times: Your body likes and responds to regularity, not just in mealtimes, but sleeping and working too. If you doubt this, next time you take a long trip notice what it does to your eating, sleeping and bowel habits. For optimum health and vitality it's important to establish and maintain regular meal times, sleep times and bowel movements.
2. Eat mainly cooked foods: According to Chinese dietary therapy your meals should primarily be cooked and eaten warm. Raw vegetables and fruits, when eaten excessively, cool and weaken your digestive system, causing such problems as bloating, watery stools and lack of energy. Cooking is regarded in Chinese dietary therapy as a kind of pre-digestion process that makes it easier for digestion to occur. Cold, raw foods on the other hand require more digestive power to break them down. Suitable cooking methods are steaming and stir-frying as they cook quickly and lightly while still retaining nutrients.
3. Eat slowly, chew well: Digestion begins in your mouth - eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly before swallowing ensures smooth, complete digestion. Also, don't eat when angry or emotionally upset as it greatly impairs digestion - wait till you calm down, or skip the meal entirely.
4. Don't overeat: Be kind to your digestive organs and bowels and stop eating when you are 70-75% full. Overeating impairs your stomach and intestines causing indigestion, bloating, sluggishness, constipation, putrefaction, gas, weight gain and other problems.
5. Don't drink cold drinks: Consuming cold drinks especially iced ones at any time, but particularly with food, is very bad for digestion. The digestive process requires heat to break down what you eat and drink. Cold is, by nature, slowing and contracting - therefore cold drinks, and very cold foods like ice cream, slow and impede digestion, causing digestive upsets, abdominal pain and discomfort. Instead, drink warm water or green tea. Warm-hot water helps flush out toxins and green tea prepares your digestive system for food. Drink a cup of green tea 10-20 minutes before you eat - this is particularly beneficial if you know you'll be eating heavy foods like meat, or fried foods. Drinking green tea after meals also benefits digestion.
6. After meals take a slow walk: Whenever you leave a restaurant in China the staff thank you for coming then say, "man zou", meaning, "walk slowly". A slow, leisurely stroll after meals for 10-20 minutes facilitates digestion and nutrient absorption. Rubbing your abdomen with one palm on the other in slow circles around your belly button in the direction of your colon also helps digestion. This is also an excellent preventative and remedy for digestive disorders. Do it while standing still, or while taking a slow, leisurely stroll.
7. Do the Ab Lift: If you're looking to lose weight, exercise before breakfast. As you haven't eaten for maybe 10-12 hours, your body relies on its fat stores for energy. One exercise that is highly recommended before meals, and especially before breakfast, is the Abdominal Lift. It's easy to do and takes a couple of minutes only. Basically, it involves using your abdominal muscles to lift your abdomen up and towards your spine, and holding, then gently releasing it. The Ab Lift can also be done an hour after meals to help digestion, absorption and elimination.