Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Process part II: Empowering ourselves through our diet with conscious eating (updated December 2013)

In Part I of this series on transformation, we addressed the roots of illness in Western civilization, both globally and individually. In this part we will begin to address specific behavior and lifestyle changes necessary to make the transition from dysfunctionality and pain to wellness and connectivity. This process involves developing one's sensitivity in five specific areas: The way one eats, breathes, exercises, sleeps, and nurtures his spirit. In this article, I will share with you specific guidelines that I give my patients on how to eat.

The wisest of all men, King Solomon, tells us in Koheles (Ecclesiastes 4:12) that
"... A rope with three strands will not quickly come undone," that though a single string can easily be pulled apart and two threads twisted together with greater difficulty can also be undone, a rope that has three intertwined strands, will always hold up under stress. From this we can learn that for anything to be sustained and accepted, it needs to be established, strengthened, then reinforced.

In developing nutritional guidelines for my patients, I have used this idea of the
three-stranded rope: integrating together the latest research information from biomedical nutrition, the brilliant categorization and observational analysis of Chinese medicine, and the wholistic and mulitfaceted, and Divinely given wisdom of the Torah, to develop a diet which promotes healthy digestion, absorption and elimination, makes one feel good, reduces cravings, and bring one gradually and gently to a weight which looks good and feels good. I want to add, parenthetically, that losing weight should not specifically be our goal, but rather to lose fat. Programs that emphasize weight loss generally cause patients to lose water weight, muscles mass and electrolytes (minerals that control water balance), and can create serious health problems including kidney failure.

The great 7th century CE Chinese physician and philosopher, Sun Si Miao wrote that the physician should "first treat with food and with modification of lifestyle. If this does not work then he should use acupuncture and herbs. Those who are ignorant about food can not hope to survive." This concept, that there is a vital connection between food and health is also espoused by the great 11th century Jewish scholar and doctor, Moses Maimonides, who prescribes balanced foods based upon their qualitative energetic properties, the parts of the body that they affect, and their flavors and temperatures.

Furthermore, the Torah views eating as a spiritual activity, not only affecting our bodies, but also impacting our emotions, thoughts and souls. The latest Biomedical research constantly reaffirms the role that food plays in affecting our moods, clarity of our thinking, and ability to concentrate. In Hilchos Deyos, chapter 3, The Rambam tells us that Man's ultimate purpose should be "to direct his heart to know G-d." Yet adds the Rambam, it is impossible, for one to connect to Ha-Shem, if one is hungry, sick or in pain! In the following chapter he gives us clear guidelines on how, what and when the Jew should eat. These ideas, then, contribute greatly to how we should begin to think about food, in the process of developing greater sensitivity.

Before we actually go into specifics of what each meal should look like, first,let us consider certain important rules:

1. Warm your body up for 15 minutes before eating each meal, by walking or exercising, making sure to breathe deeply, exhaling slowly.

2. Each meal must contain a balance of 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 20% fats. By protein I mean free range-eggs (which should be poached, soft or hard boiled only), fish, chicken, other poultry, and on rare occasion, perhaps once a week, meat (preferrably organic or free-range, if available). Also some legumes such as peas, garbanzo beans, peanuts and soy are good sources of protein. Note, however, that I do not recommend soy products UNLESS, they are fermented (eg. miso, tofu and tempeh) and even then, only if one is certain that he is not sensitive to it as soy is highly reactive. By carbohydrates I mean cooked vegetables, (the only exception being celery, parsley, cilantro and sprouted grains, beans, and seeds, which may be eaten raw) whole grains and either a white organic aromatic rice like basmati or jasmine, white quinoa, or kasha (buckwheat). Also, with carbohydrates, be careful to limit those with high glycemic loads (carrots, potatoes, corn, rice, and grains) to one per meal. By fats, I mean avocados, oily nuts and nut butters like macadamias, cashews and almonds, sesame tehini, olives and coconuts.

3. Try to integrate some kind of naturally fermented food with each meal,(making sure that they do not contain sugar or preservatives!) such as sauerkraut, cured olives, pickles, miso ( but don't cook miso, as if will kill the good bacteria it contains. Instead, add miso to foods after cooking.) cultured coconut milk, or potentially (if there aren't any issues such as allergies, poor digestion, candida or other fungal infections) fermented raw goat milk or cheese.

4. Try to determine if you are allergic to any of the foods mentioned or recommended.
The most reactive foods are dairy, sugar, wheat, corn , nuts but especially peanuts, soy, eggs and the nightshade family (potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and tobacco). Be suspicious of any of them if you have any allergic symptoms. See my website for symptoms of food sensitivity, and how to test yourself to determine sensitivies. Also consider salicylate sensitivity if you find yourself highly sensitive or reactive to your diet. Read about it at:

5. Even if you are not allergic to them, avoid dairy, raw vegetables (see above exceptions), cold drinks, cold foods, sugar, corn syrup, cocoa and chocolate, artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings, coffee, alcohol, fried foods, greasy food, and spicy foods, ESPECIALLY at night.

6. Eat breakfast like a prince (or princess), lunch like a king (or queen) and dinner like a prisoner, making the evening meal, the smallest of the day, and making sure to maintaining the proper balance of foods.

7. NEVER eat fruit or melon with any other type of food, and never eat fruit or other sweet foods at night. Fruits to especially avoid, unless you have a strong digestive tract, include oranges, apricots, peaches, and nectarines. Melons are particularly cold energetically and should never be eaten in the winter, when cold, or even with other fruits.

8. Make sure to drink 4-6 glasses of water daily, even if you're not thirsty, and with meals drink only enough to wash your meal down, in other words, as little as possible. Never drink straight fruit juice, always dilute with at least 1/3 water, and squeeze the juice from a 1/4 of a lemon into water each time you drink.  Also, never gulp down your water.  Sip it slowly, as drinking a large amount of water at one time can damage the digestive tract and make you more vulnerable dysbiosis, dampness and fungal infections.

9. Never multitask when eating. Chew your food well and eat slowly. Never eat when stressed or emotional. Be happy, and consider that you are engaged in a holy activity. Have in mind that you are distributing all the nutrition in the food to where it is needed in your body, as you eat, eating with awareness. Never walk around while eating. If you are healthy, eat until you are 3/4 full and then STOP! If you are not that healthy, consider stopping when you are half full.  If you eat slowly and are not multi-tasking, it will be easy for you to determine when you are approaching satiation.

10. Wait after eating a meal at least three hours before going to sleep.

11. If you've eaten a big meal, wait at least 15 minutes after eating before walking, and at least a half hour before exercising.

12. Never eat if you have to use the restroom, and never delay eliminating for any reason!

13. Eat warming foods in the winter and cooling foods in the summer.

14. Make sure to eat 3 meals every day. If you are not hungry or don't have a good appetite, 20 minutes before each meal either have one to two tubes of Po Chai (a chinese medicine that will stimulate appetite), or else have a cup of ginger/tangerine peel tea, prepared by taking 3 thin slices of ginger root, and the peel from a half a tangerine, dried in the oven until it's crisp, bringing it to a boil and cooking for 10 minutes.

15. Avoid eating cold desserts at the end of meals as they prevent heavy meals from being digested. Especially avoid cold fruit.

Sample Meals:

Upon waking, have a glass of energetic water: place a half-cup water in the fridge over night, and bring a second 1/2 cup water to a boil. mix the two halves together, and squeeze the juice from a 1/4 of a lemon into it.

if you are thirsty or weak, and don't have any problems with  blood sugar, consider have a fruit such as a pear, kiwi or 4-5 non-sorbate pitted prunes, that have soaked overnight (Don't drink the water that the dried prunes soaked in as it is loaded with sugar). If you are not feeling weak or thirsty, skip this.

Even a better alternative to have after your energetic water is to have a cup of green smoothie. In my vitamix I blend the following ingredients:  4 cups of water, 2 bananas, 2 pears, an oz. of liquid coconut oil, 6 strawberries,  a shpritz of Stevia, an oz of goji berries, and one handful of arugula, and one handful of a salad blend called "power to the greens" which I get from Trader Joes, here in LA.  This usually lasts around 3 days.

Also spread throughout the day, have six teaspoons of fresh wheat grass juice.

If you are taking Chinese herbs, have them now.

Breakfast:  have a whole grain cracker or bread (remember wheat and some other grains, soy and corn tends to be very allergic, so be mindful of how you feel and make sure that it doesn't contain sugar). Watch out for reactions such as gas, belching or bloating which may be signs of allergy, and if so, consider a different kind of whole grain cracker such as rye, spelt or kamut. Eat with it some kind of spread, such as almond butter, humous, techina, guacamole, eggplant, etc. As each meal should have protein, for breakfast a good choice might be free-range eggs, either poached, soft or hard boiled (don't eat scrambled eggs, omelets or eggs fried in oil ), fish, or even chicken, if you like it.  Remember, breakfast should be nourishing but not too big. After your meal, before you set out on your day, have a relaxing cup of a warming tea.  I like to mix 1 teabag of chamomile with 2 bags of Ruby Red Roibbos Chai (available from Trader Joes).

Lunch (largest meal): cooked vegetables or perhaps a hearty vegetable soup, chicken or turkey, and a grain such as white organic basmati rice, Bhutan red rice or kasha. A glass of cultured coconut milk.

Dinner: Again, cooked vegetables or soup, fish, 1/2 an avocado, again a grain, and a glass of cultured coconut milk.

Unless eaten for religious reasons such as on Shabbos, bread should only be eaten once a day, at breakfast. I would not recommend "Ezekiel Bread" because among other things, it contains soy. If you have issues with bloating, consider using a simple and non-reactive unleavened bread such as spelt matza as an alternative.

Make sure to season foods well with aromatic spices such as turmeric, cardamon, cumin, curry, cilantro, tarragon, basil, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, lavender, and a little sea salt, garlic, onion, or ginger if you like them. A very nice herb blend that is available at health food stores called "Herbes de Province."

Different kinds of vinegars can be used based upon your constitution: If you tend to be irritable, and your digestion is weak, consider seasoning with apple cider vinegar which strengthens the Spleen and liver, sweet rice vinegar also strengthens the spleen, wine vinegar strengthens the lungs, and Japanese Umeboshi plum vinegar, which is available at health stores strengthens the Kidneys. (It has pleasant and distinct salty-sour flavor, and is a great salt-substitute. I would not recommend regular white vinegar.

Mid afternoon or evening snacks: Even though I said not to eat raw vegetables, an exception is celery, which you can have as a snack with peanut, almond or other nut butter, 1/2 avocado, a handful of nuts if you feel good when eating them, a whole grain cracker with a spread, sprouted beans, grains or nuts, and/or a cup of one of the herb teas that are recommended. Also, sprouted grains, beans and seeds are a nourishing and invigorating snack. Remember to not eat fruit mid-afternoon unless you will be eating your supper within an hour thereafter, and never eat fruit in the evening.

Do not nap mid-afternoon, if you have trouble sleeping at night, but remember that a 15 minute power nap in the daytime is equivalent to an hour at night.

Eat at proper intervals so you don't get too hungry or compromised.

Remember that Chinese Herbal medicines should be taken before meals to promote proper digestion and utilization (take either 30 min before and 60 min after meals).

Also, if you notice that you feel particularly heavy, bloated or tired after eating meat or animal protein, consider that your stomach may not produce adequate Hydrochloric acid necessary to digest it. If so, take supplemental Betaine Hydrochloride right before eating protein, and as your body moves toward greater balance, you will find that you will need less and less!

Other specific foods to include:

If Blood vacuous: chicken liver, tahini, beets, yams, celery, parsley, cilantro, canned tuna and sardines in water, and, of course, wheat grass juice, the highest food form of chlorophyll which is an analog for hemoglobin.

If Yin vacuous: gooey foods such as cooked vegetables, (again, yams are particularly good) almond and other pure nut butters, avocados, legumes like garbanzo beans, rice, string beans, kasha, etc.

Many people are iodine deficient, which affects the thyroid, the adrenals and fibrocystic breasts. One of the best ways to make sure to get adequate iodine is by adding seaweed (I recommend Wakame and Kombu as they contain good amounts of iodine) to your cooked vegetables or making soup with it.

good teas: Rooibos, black cumin seed, chamomile, and green tea (except in the winter, and unless you tend to feel cold, have cold feet or knees, or are Yang Vacuous)

Try different grains, as many of them tend to be allergic, so experiment. Best approach is keep it simple: one grain at a time, (eg. white organic basmati rice,red Bhutan rice, kasha, barley, spelt, oats, kamut, millet, sesame, amaranth, white quinoa, and teff) and see how you feel.

Instead of vegetable or canola oil, use cold or expeller pressed olive oil, sesame oil, almond oil, walnut oil or sunflower oil, and don't fry them on a hot flame. Make sure to refrigerate all oils except olive oil. Though one should never use margarine or butter, an acceptable alternative is Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread.  Avoid other spreads as they usually contain dairy, corn or soy.

About Sweeteners:

Avoid sugar, all chemical artificial sweeteners (eg. aspartame, saccharine, sucralose and splenda) and ANY corn syrup or sweetener. Options to consider are Stevia (the best I have found is Kal Brand raw stevia powder), raw unpasteurized  organic honey, blackstrap molasses, xylitol, coconut sugar, sucanat or fruit juice. Syrups, such as rice syrup, barley malt syrup, date syrup, agave, or maple syrup, even if raw, are just too concentrated to healthily process.

All sugar alcohols, such as xylitol,  mannitol, sorbitol, erythritol and maltitol all can cause diarrhea, but of them xylitol besides tasting just like sugar, does have the benefit of preventing tooth decay.

Avoid preparing or storing foods in plastic wrap or soft plastic containers whenever possible. Don't warm up foods in a microwave oven.

A main goal in each of the areas of growth should always be to gain a greater awareness of ourselves. Two important clues should guide us in this pursuit: one, how we feel, and two, what our tongue looks like. If we make changes in our life, and we don't feel good, although it is entirely possible that we are having a Hexheimer's reaction or healing crisis, we can't assume that for sure. When in doubt, when you don't feel good upon making changes, contact your physician for guidance. Secondly, look at your tongue: ideally, it should be neither pale, nor red, nor purple but rather be pink, with a thin white coat throughout. It should be neither excessively moist, nor dry, it should neither have cracks nor be swollen, it should be neither long nor short, should be balanced and not veer to one side, and shouldn't quiver. Study your tongue, and if you notice any of the above signs, monitor them as you change the way you eat. Hopefully as you feel better, your tongue will look better. May eating always be looked at as a gift, as a holy yet thoroughly enjoyable activity, and never as burden or necessary evil. B'tayavon (Bon apetite)!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thank you

Thank you all so very much! Many of you have written to me privately The Jewish sages tell us that we humans are indeed different than any other creation, and what makes us different? It is the gift that we are given of speech articulating from our mouths, taking our thoughts, some of which get stuck (the source of most psychological disorders) and bringing them out through our mouths. As  Rebbe Nachman says, this is connecting Chochma to Malchus.  Sometimes it's reflected in talking to each other with sensitivity and connectivity, sometimes it's expressed in personal prayer with our beloved Maker, sometimes it's crying, sometimes it's screaming, sometimes it's laughing, and sometimes it's simply singing or humming a melody.  But just as we are told that He created the world with power of speech so too we who are in His image, and are G-dly (and goodly) when we share, when we talk, when we thank and when we comfort.  I often read out loud written  sentiments that are sent to me for that very reason, and it is also for that reason that I don't have texting on my phone.  Again, thank you all for your sweetness and love. As Chana enriched, refined, changed and matured me (Chen Pi (aged tangerine peel)is less harsh than Qing Pi (immature tangerine peel), so too, at least for me, time and connecting has made life so much smoother and really very sweet (good for the spleen(the digestive function)!