This is a piece written by Mita Mistry an acupuncturist working in Warwickshire. We trained together at the College of Traditional Acupuncture and thought it might be fun to do a cross-over blog. Here she gets a guided tour around my fridge!
Mita Mistry – “Being an acupuncturist, is not just about sticking needles into people, it also involves looking at our patient’s diet and lifestyle, helping them to make healthier choices specific to their “individual” strengths and weaknesses. Naturally, this means we are more often than not quite aware of our own diets and how they impact our health. I have teamed up with a fellow acupuncturist who practices in York, to see what is inside his fridge and his views on food. Above are some of the items in Alex’s fridge and here are some of his food confessions;
Q. What is your relationship with food like?
In general pretty good. I try to eat mostly fresh food and steer clear of too much processed. I will eat most things, which is very different from when I was a child as I was terribly fussy. There were many struggles around the family dinner table trying to get me to eat various foods. If I’m stressed or worried I tend to stop eating, which is not good as I’m on the lean side of skinny! Thankfully, this behaviour is now rare.
Q. Do you get food cravings? How do you manage them?
I am prone to bingeing and will happily trowel away a whole pot supersize yogurt, giant size bag of crisps and I have to avoid biscuits at all costs. Studying Chinese medicine has helped me to see things very differently and this helps keep my mind and emotions more balanced which in turn changes my food habits. For example, worrying and over-thinking (the emotions associated with the stomach and spleen) will more often than not make us scream out for sugary stuff which actually weakens them further and affects our thought process.
Q. Are you vegetarian? There appears to be zero meat in your fridge.
Over the years I seem to eat less meat, but I do love venison and occasionally, steak. Vegan-ism (is that a word?) is something that interests me, but I’m nowhere near a vegan.
It’s important for us to have a balanced diet that fits in our individual beliefs and dietary requirements. How has acupuncture and Chinese Medicine affected your view of food and diet?
I was always quite aware of healthy eating, but it’s definitely given me another perspective. We always used to joke at college about certain sugary foods like bananas causing “damp” (“damp” slows down the stomach and spleen and can cause symptoms such as bloating, cysts, fatigue, heaviness to name a few). I tend not to really organise my diet around these concepts. Training as an acupuncturist certainly introduced new food types to me. For instance, I would have had no idea what, or how to pronounce, quinoa before my training!
Q. You’re fridge looks delightfully healthy, how easy is it to eat healthily?
It can be a real challenge at times. If I’m going through a lazy period, my healthy diet suffers. I try to use the juicer and blender to supplement my diet with fresh fruit and vegetables as often as possible. I’ve just discovered green smoothies which now really help me get good nutrition. They are pretty odd at first, but now I love them.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to eat more healthily?
Being healthy with food takes some organising, you need to make time for it. That is not to say I spend hours preparing food, but it takes more time shopping for fresh produce on a regular basis. Plan out meals, including as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible. Cut out junk food and processed foods. Next year I hope to get more time on my allotment with the help of a friend, which should make fresh food more accessible. Green fingers crossed!
Q. Do you have any top tips for someone who grabs food “on the go”?
In all honesty I’d say, “don’t do it”. Healthy options are hard to come by for quick food. I tend to take pots of nuts, seeds, oatcakes and fruit salad to work on busy clinic days to keep me going between patients. I love pre-packed sandwiches but they are over priced and full of salt and fat mostly. You see a lot of people eating on the hoof these days, which is a bit sad really. It’s terrible for your digestion and really takes the ‘spirit’ out of eating. I wish we were more like other cultures that made time for food and respected it more.
In addition to Alex’s tips, you could also try these simple changes. Do not skip meals. Sit down to eat. Chew food well. Turn off the TV while eating. Don’t eat at your desk. Eat local, organic produce. It is packed with nutrients and is super-delicious. Be grateful, present and mindful while enjoying each mouthful. Finally, remember to keep the stomach and spleen healthy. They are the cooking pot and digestive fire that turn food into energy. When balanced, they give us the ability to not over-worry, to nourish ourselves and other people, to feel fulfilled, to give sympathy whilst remaining stable and grounded in ourselves.”