In Chinese medical theory, your Stomach is viewed as an oven, in which the foods you eat are cooked using the energy of the Spleen. This isn't too far off from what we know biologically happens. Biologically speaking, our foods are chemically "cooked" using acids and enzymes rather than heat cooked, but those ancient Chinese had a great analogy going, so let's stick with it!
So you put food into your Stomach and then your Spleen turns the oven on to digest that food. There are a couple of ways that we can make our oven inefficient at cooking our foods. Let's take a look at them:
- Ice water - Drinking ice cold water cools off our digestive oven, making it have to work that much harder in order to turn food into energy we can use. If you tend to be on the colder side and you drink ice water, you may notice undigested food in your stools! That's evidence that your oven isn't getting hot enough!
- Raw Foods - Eating lots of raw foods can also make our Spleen have to work harder to digest our foods.
- Too many sweets - too many sweet foods gum up the works of the Spleen, making it difficult to digest foods properly.
The above things that we can do to make our oven inefficient are often used in "dieting" to burn more calories (except for the part about eating too many sweets, of course). For someone who is extremely robust and in tip-top shape, doing those things won't likely make a large impact on their digestion. Their oven is already super efficient and not bogged-down! But in someone who has weaker digestion, who is cold all the time or has fatigue, doing these things can mean you're spending too much energy on digesting the food without gaining enough from it.
So here's what I recommend most people do to eat healthier:
- Skip the ice in your water. Cool from the tap is fine. Room-temperature or warmer is better!
- Eat fully cooked foods - Cooking is merely another way of pre-digesting the food. Don't make your Spleen work so hard and you'll feel much more energetic! A side salad is alright, but avoid those entree salads, especially during the winter when it's so cold outside.
- Avoid sweets - Too many sweets weaken the Spleen. An occasional treat is fine, but let's not over do it.
Come back tomorrow for a look at Quitting Smoking as a New Year's Resolution!
In case you missed the rest of this series:
Resolutions Week - Intro
Resolutions Week - Part I - Exercise
Resolutions Week - Part III - Quitting Smoking
Resolutions Week - Part IV - Willpower