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Holistic Approaches to a Healthier You in 2021

By Kathi Wotal, Licensed Acupuncturist

Many of us look to the New Year to set health goals, and for a lot of us that will involve getting to a healthier weight, and there are numerous ways to achieve this, including holistic and natural approaches. The term COVID-19 has taken on new meaning for weight gain: the 19 pounds we’ve gained during 2020 stuck at home and not able to get out and exercise like normal, staying more sedentary, and probably doing a little emotional eating while binge watching Netflix. We’ve all been there this past year.

In Chinese Medicine we are always looking to keep things in balance so your body is functioning at its peak levels. So, while you’re adjusting what you eat, and trying to find ways to get up and moving more, let’s talk about what else you can do to help you with reaching your healthy weight goals. Here are some tips on keeping your digestive system working more efficiently and your metabolism functioning better so that your healthy eating and exercise can be maximized for better results.

1. Don’t eat or drink so many cold foods and drinks. This can slow down your digestive system and actually make it work harder and cause what we call Spleen Qi Deficiency in Chinese medicine. This can lead to a slower metabolism, feelings of bloating, slow digestion, and loose stool. In fact, if you are having a cold fruit smoothie first thing in the morning and then noticing you’re having loose stool later, you may just need to have that smoothie for lunch when your digestive system has been more active for a bit, and temper it with some warm foods or drinks for breakfast.

2. Eat less raw food. This can also deplete your digestive system, simply because it takes more energy to digest the raw food than it does food that is cooked even slightly. Again, this is from the Chinese medicine perspective. So, if you love those salads to get your greens and healthy veggies, just be sure to also be having warmer and cooked foods with it. Or cook the veggies for just a few minutes in water. Too many raw veggies and fruits can cause Spleen Qi Deficiency just like I mentioned above, so if you’re noticing loose stool, adjust your raw food intake and see if it makes a difference.

3. If your body tends to run warm, eat more cooling foods. If you tend to run cold, eat more warming foods. Remember, this is all about balance, and each person’s body works a little differently. In Chinese medicine we categorize some foods as being very warming after you eat it and some are very cooling. This refers to the warming or cooling reaction your body has after eating certain foods, not the temperature of the food. An easy way to do this is to eat more seasonal fruit and vegetables: in winter they tend to be more warming for us. Examples of warming foods: ginger root, cinnamon, black beans, cloves, basil, oats, brown rice, garlic, hot peppers, chicken, beef, lamb, and winter squash. Examples of cooler foods: melons, apples, bananas, cucumber, eggs, mango, mushrooms, strawberry, wheat, and seaweed. If you’d like more specific guidance, just let me know next time you’re in for an acupuncture appointment.

4. Regular acupuncture. Acupuncture can be used to curb cravings (even sugar cravings), and in helping your stomach and digestive system work more efficiently, thereby helping your system be more efficient at getting the nutrition out of the food you give it and helping your body shed the fat it no longer needs. This will not work as a stand-alone for helping you lose weight, but will assist your body in losing weight as you’re also working on portion control, eating healthier foods, and exercising.

5. Last but not least, reduce your stress. Stress has increased quite a bit for most of us, and consistent stressors can cause the body to retain more weight even when we eat healthier. So if you feel like you’re eating healthy, eating reasonable portions of food, and getting a good amount of exercise but still gaining (or not losing) weight, it may have to do with your body’s reaction to stress. Acupuncture is very effective for helping your body learn to manage your stress in a healthier way. And while we’re doing acupuncture for stress, we can do a little to help your body’s digestive system as well.

I hope this helps you as you work toward your healthy living goals for 2021!

Interested in knowing more about Chinese Medicine and how it can help you and any health issues you may be experiencing? To make a appointment contact: or call: (847) 873-0032


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