Talking About Food

As my food book continues to take shape, section after section, I will periodically post food thoughts and experiences here. The point of view is, of course, from Chinese Medicine, looking at food not only for the nutrient content but also for the responses a food elicits.

A brief story. A friend was coming for dinner, and when I opened the door, he looked vaguely unwell. When I inquired, he said he was okay, but didn't feel much like eating. "Did you just eat?" "No, but something about lunch just won't budge..." So, we changed the subject and chatted for a while, and when his mind was on something else, I got him some sliced raw carrot. After a a couple slices, he looked surprised and said he was getting hungry. That was that, no problem with dinner, simple fix.

Obviously, for longstanding digestive issues a more comprehensive approach may be needed, but the carrot worked for a mild case of food stagnation because it has a strongly descending energetic. The Stomach wants to accept food as it comes down from the mouth. After the Stomach function, foods continue into the Intestines, so it is said overall that the Stomach has a descending Qi. When descension temporarily fails, food stagnates, we feel slightly off, perhaps bloated, distended, gassy, or in commonly more advanced cases, the symptoms of reflux. Often, a carrot is enough to restore the Stomach's descending energetic. Of course, it's essential to look at the diet to see what it was in my friend's lunch that he "couldn't stomach". It could be a particular food, a food combination, or (as was the case here), being emotionally upset during lunch but eating a full meal anyway. The simple home cures are wonderful to have up your sleeve, be they a carrot, fresh ginger tea, sprouts, miso and scallion, something fermented like kombucha, or dozens of other things. The art is in understanding what is off energetically and what can be used to rectify the situation.

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