Q: How can I maintain a healthy diet during the holiday season?
A: Diet is such an integral aspect of Chinese medicine that no matter the season, food choices matter! Two of the most important dietary guidelines are to avoid raw, cold foods and beverages and to eliminate dairy. Although raw vegetables are full of healthy nutrients, they are hard on the digestive energy. Be sure to choose cooked vegetables, soups and stews and avoid the raw veggie tray and cold salads. For beverages, try not to add ice to drinks and instead opt for warm decaffeinated teas. The second dietary rule is to avoid dairy. In Chinese medicine, the digestive organs need to be “warm”—like a fire—and an excessive amount of dairy products dampen this fire. The nature of dairy products is known to create dampness within the body. Dampness in the body, as in nature, can cause a person to feel heavy, lethargic and excess mucus productive. An indirect result of this can be a depression of the immune system or exacerbation of mucus in an already-sick body. As always, avoiding caffeine, sugar, processed foods and heavy meats are not to be overlooked!