Childhood obesity is a serious health issue affecting more than 12 million children in the United States. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, obesity is related to a weakness in the digestive energy, a stagnation of energy in the body, heat accumulating in the stomach or an accumulation of dampness and phlegm. These imbalances may be inherited or may be products of the environment, lifestyle, diet and stress of the patient.
There is no magic pill for obesity - but in most cases, childhood obesity can be prevented or treated with lifestyle modifications and natural medicine. Here are four ways to help your child overcome obesity.
Exercise is incredibly important in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. It is important, especially for kids, to make exercise fun! Try different team sports and individual athletic endeavors, competitive sports and collaborative activities, high intensity exercise and more gentle forms of movement like yoga or tai chi. The important thing is to find what is right for your child - what he or she will keep doing on a regular basis (at least four times per week).
2. Eat a Spleen-friendly Diet
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the spleen is what controls digestion. It is in charge of transforming the food we eat into nutrients the body can use, and then transporting those nutrients around the body. When the spleen is constantly fed food that is overly processed, sweet or greasy, it can’t function optimally. This leads to the formation of dampness and excess fat. The metabolism will suffer as the spleen is weakened, compounding the problem. That is why it is important to be sure your child largely eats a spleen-friendly diet.
To nourish the spleen, avoid foods that have a lot of sugar, are overly processed or are particularly greasy. Also, limit the intake of cold temperature foods and beverages. The spleen exerts a lot of energy heating up the food you eat to be 98.6 degrees - you can help it out and give it warm foods or room temperature beverages, allowing it to use its resources on digestion, transformation and transportation.
3. Heal the Gut.
A spleen-friendly diet is a great way to prevent obesity and to teach your child how to stay healthy long-term. However, in order to reverse direction when obesity is already present, it is important to take steps to heal the digestive system, as it is clearly already compromised. Taking age-appropriate probiotics is a great place to start. Probiotics introduce good, healthy bacteria into your gut, so that there isn’t space for unhealthy bacteria to make themselves a home. More and more research shows how integral our microflora biodome is to our overall health, and probiotics are an essential piece of creating healthy gut flora. Another way to heal the digestive tract is to introduce bone broth. Bone broth refers to soup or broth made from cooking animal bones (ie, from beef, pork or chicken) for a long time, allowing the broth to leech out the good, healing nutrients from the bone marrow. Bone broth is incredibly nourishing to the digestive system as well as other core energy systems in the body. It helps repair a damaged gut.
4. Get Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be a terrific therapy for helping your child through this process of losing weight and shifting their lifestyle. Depending on the age of your child, acupuncture or acupressure may be more appropriate, and both serve to move stuck energy, strengthen the spleen and stomach, reduce heat or inflammation, and transform dampness and phlegm. They can improve metabolism, reduce cravings, regulate appetite and offer support during these difficult lifestyle changes.
It may be hard work, for both you and your child, but overcoming childhood obesity is essential in setting your child up for health as an adult.
3 Sitting Exercises for Weight Loss
Whether we are at the office, in the car or at home, we spend much of our day sitting down. So much time in fact that it can impact how active we are throughout the remainder of our day. Because of the amount of sitting we do, it can be hard to find times to be active and burn calories. If you still want to lose weight, but can’t avoid the huge amount of sitting throughout your day, check out these three sitting exercises that promote healthy weight loss.
1. Replace your chair
This is a super easy way to get in some key exercise while you are sitting at work. Take your old office chair and replace it with an exercise ball. More specifically, a stability ball. A stability ball will help you tighten and strengthen various parts of your body, including your core, leg and back muscles. It has been proven that when you do this you can burn up to an extra 100 calories a day!
2. Set healthy reminders for yourself
This is a simple practice that can greatly improve your health, quality of life and weight. If you set healthy reminders for yourself throughout the day while at work you can avoid staying stagnant and eating potentially unhealthy foods. For example, set reminders on your phone to tell yourself to get up and walk around the office for a few minutes, or to walk up and down a set of stairs. In addition, you can set reminders telling yourself what snacks you should eat during the work day, or what healthy option you should have during your lunch break.
3. Drink lots of water
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Keeping yourself properly hydrated is very important. And by doing this you can even help yourself lose weight without getting up and impacting your work day. Drinking lots of water ensures that your metabolism and other bodily functions can work to the best of their ability. Keeping your metabolism hydrated and fully operational helps reduce your calorie intake.
Acupuncture for Weight Loss
It seems that everybody is always looking for a quick fix or the easiest way out. That is definitely no different when it comes to weight loss. Think about the number of fad diets that have come and gone over the past decade. And the outcome is always the same, weight is lost but it always comes back, sometimes worse than before the diet began. Why? Because a diet is not the answer. Lifestyle changes are what is needed when somebody wants to lose weight. This is where a system like Traditional Chinese Medicine becomes a good choice for those who truly want or need to lose weight and keep it off.
According to TCM, excess weight is rooted in an imbalance within the body caused by the malfunctioning of the liver and spleen organ systems and energetic meridians. In TCM theory, the spleen is responsible for proper functioning of the digestive system. When the spleen is functioning properly, the food we eat is transformed into Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is the vital substance of life and when there is disharmony in the spleen, there will be symptoms such as fatigue, slow metabolism, water retention, feelings of heaviness and loose stools. The liver system is supposed to keep the body’s Qi and blood flowing and running smoothly. Unfortunately, our fast-paced modern lifestyle and chronic stress levels tend to negatively impact the liver’s ability to function properly. Because the liver and spleen work in conjunction, when one isn’t functioning properly, neither is the other. This leads to a poorly functioning digestive system that decreases metabolism and can trigger cravings.
The acupuncture points, foods and herbal supplements used in TCM are specifically chosen to assist with weight loss and influence the Qi of the spleen and liver systems, thus treating the root imbalances causing the weight gain to begin with. Physically, TCM has been shown to have an effect on the function of the nervous system, the endocrine system, the digestive system, food cravings and metabolism. All of these things help to maximize the absorption of nutrients, energize the body, control overeating, suppress the appetite and reduce anxiety.
Unlike most fad diets, acupuncture treatments are catered and customized to the needs of the individual. Acupuncture points can be used to affect the overall well-being of the patient with the objective of increasing circulation and calming the nervous system. Also, specific points can be incorporated to help with different symptoms as they arise. Auricular or ear acupuncture points have been found to be particularly effective for helping with weight loss.
Another way TCM differs from fad diets in treating weight loss is that TCM is a total health program. Not only are acupuncture treatments used, but other modalities such as herbal formulas, energetically healing foods, abdominal massage, exercise and meditation are usually suggested and recommended to the patient. This insures those who utilize TCM to lose weight usually have a better chance of keeping it off.
If you’re trying to lose weight, why not consider acupuncture and TCM as your method of choice? It is much less radical than a fad diet and the outcomes are usually better and more permanent. To find out more, contact your local licensed acupuncturist.
Congee: Easy Comfort Food For The Whole Family
Congee, or rice porridge, might be a new and savory surprise for your kids, but this healthy and simple dish has been served for many years in Asian cultures. Let’s take a look at how this breakfast alternative might delight your whole family’s palate.
Congee, otherwise known as rice gruel or rice porridge, has been widely enjoyed both as a breakfast food and overall dietary aid in Asian cultures. In the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is not recommended to eat cold foods, especially in the morning, as it is hard on the digestion and transportation of food throughout the body. Many people in the West start the morning off with cold milk, sugary cereal, yogurt or fruit smoothies. Not only are those items too cold, but they may also be high in sugar and lacking nutrition. On the other hand, congee is a healthy, nutritious, warming meal given to children in Asian cultures that is delicious, very simple to make and can be flavored many different ways to taste.
Some benefits of congee include its uses as a dietary aid for digestive issues such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Congee is healthy for young, developing stomachs, it is filling, warming to the body and easily absorbed. Congee is often eaten when one is under the weather, at the beginning stages of cold or flu. Eating it just feels good to the body and its preparation stimulates the senses. This hearty dish can be made more nutritious by adding herbs, spices, vegetables or meats to enrich the flavor.
Here is a simple recipe to make basic congee or rice porridge. You can add what you and your family prefer, make it sweeter, add a kick, a touch of salt or keep it bland.
1 cup rice
6-8 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
Wash the rice and drain twice
Boil water with rice and chicken stock added, reduce to simmer, then partially cover
Keep mixture on stove for 1 1/2 hours on stove, stir occasionally
Serve and garnish
Examples of popular additions to congee include ginger, garlic, chicken, pork or beef.
In addition to this recipe, a simple search on the Internet can show you other ways of making congee. There are also recipes specific to cooking congee in a rice cooker or crock pot. Give congee a try. Congee is a soothing, easy porridge that just might be the perfect addition to your family’s breakfast, lunch or dinner table.