This summer I planted a straw bale garden (it is exactly what you are thinking… a garden planted in straw bales.) The plants are starting to produce some ripe vegetables. With these visions of fresh vegetables dancing in my head, thoughts about the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) approach to vegetable preparation vs. American ideas about it are also coming into my thoughts.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine model says to cook your veggies. It doesn’t have to be a lot – a quick steam or stir fry – just don’t eat them raw. In their raw form, vegetables more difficult to digest and for most Americans, our digestion is weak already. That philosophy really flies in the face of most conventional American ideas about food, and especially the importance and predominance of salads.
I know for me, limiting salads is important. I do eat them on occasion in the summer but I am careful and generally eat them as a side rather than the main course. There are a million different ideas about food and the ways our bodies incorporate them. Sifting through all the conflicting ideologies and research is exhausting. The ultimate test is: does it work for me?
A patient of mine came in and her symptoms had changed quite a bit since her last visit. She talked about lack of energy, over-thinking especially as she tried to go to sleep, waking not feeling rested – these were all new manifestations for her. As we talked it turned out that she had started incorporating a lot of salads into her diet as well as raw veggies for snacks. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, her body couldn’t handle it. The simple suggestion to steam the vegetables resulted in a remarkable turn-around and by her next visit, those symptoms had disappeared.
Learning to listen to our bodies can be a slow process for those of us who have spent years programming ourselves to override our innate wisdom and deferring to the wisdom of “experts”. There is no one diet-lifestyle that will work for everyone. I challenge you to question the experts, ask your body what is working and what needs improvement, and experiment for yourself.
Another patient has made some fairly radical changes in her diet by listening to her body. She has incorporated more salads and is thriving. This only serves are more evidence of the importance in listening to our bodies and letting them be the “expert” rather than anything outside of ourselves.
So, eat your veggies – raw, steamed, stir-fried – and let your body be your guide.