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Table of Contents
How to Eat…………………………………...……2
Cooking & Soaking……………………………… 8
When to Eat ……………………………………..11
How to Balance Flavors …………………….….14
Sugar …………………………..………………...15
Meal Planning ……………….………………..…23
Some Digestive Complications …………….....26
Recipes ………………………………………..…31
Book Recommendations …………………..…..39
Food Journal ………………………………...….40
Weekly Meal Planner …………………………...44
Many resources were used to make this guide
and we are grateful to all of them. This guide is
informal, informational and uncopyrighted. It is
not meant to serve as a diagnostic tool. Please
feel free to share any information in this guide
with others.
Thank you to Maggie Welder for all her help
formatting this guide and bringing it to life.
Contact us with questions or for more copies:
*Gillian Rose:
[email protected]
*Jennifer Blatnik:
[email protected]
Welcome to our guide on how to eat. There is so much
information on what to eat, but not so much about how
to eat. This is a little guide that covers a bit of both. We
are practitioners of Chinese medicine, so we work from a
Chinese medical perspective with a lot of alternative
Western views thrown in. These words are meant to be
informative, encouraging and empowering, not
overwhelming and guilt-inspiring.
Ideas of what foods are healthy and which are best
avoided become like passing fads, there is research to
back one way of thinking and then research to back the
opposite view a few months later. One of the problems
with the research out there is the incentive for doing the
research in the first place. In other words, who paid for
it? And what do they have to gain if the outcome goes
their way? If you trace the financial backing of a study,
many times it was paid for by those who stand to benefit
the most when the study turns out the way it happens to
turn out (i.e. manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies
and corporations). A little suspicious?
The best way to eat, and the best foods, are going to
differ greatly from person to person, climate to climate
and season to season. Most of these guidelines will be
beneficial to anyone who tries them, which is why we talk
about the how and not the what. Within these
suggestions there is a lot of room to play around. We
have given “basic” and “advanced” tips for any and all
who would like to take the information a step further into
Eating well and simply can prevent many diseases
and imbalances in the body. Moderate exercise,
ample water and sufficient sleep are other excellent
pillars of health. For people who already feel their
health is compromised, eliminating certain foods can
greatly reduce symptoms and even “cure” serious
health conditions. This goes much farther than just
disease and discomfort in the digestive system. What
we eat becomes the very cells that comprise us, so
all systems benefit from healthy eating.
Because every body is different, you are the expert
on your body and what it likes and needs. Many of us
have learned to tune out our bodies when they
communicate with us. “Trust your gut” is an old
saying, but made newly relevant in a world of eating
fads and nutrition-compromised foods. Tuning back
in to the body, paying attention to food and lifestyle
reactions will be your best guide to healthy eating
and living. Here are some tips and suggestions to
get you started.
How to Chew
Chewing may be the number one most important
thing for digestion! Digestion starts in the mouth with
enzymes in the saliva breaking down food particles.
Food should ideally be chewed and mixed with saliva
until it reaches a unified texture in your mouth.
Remember your stomach doesn’t have teeth! When
food isn’t broken down properly in the mouth, the
Mental (circle): Clear Logical Creative Spacey
Tired Foggy-Headed Other: _________
Today I… (circle):
Laughed Sang
Emotion (circle): Optimistic Self-Confident
Pessimistic Joyful
Anxious Stressed Sad
Other: ___________
Physical (circle): Strong
Exhausted Productive
Weak Tired
Urination: Times/day_______
Circle: Clear Yellow Dark Cloudy Painful
Hesitant Other_______
Defecation: Times/Day_________
Circle: Hard Firm Soft Loose
Diarrhea Constipation
Sexual Health: Excellent
Time Spent Outdoors: ________________
Time spent in front of TV/Computer Screen: _______
Activity/ Exercise:
Energy Level (circle): Excellent
Good Fair
Low Up and Down Other: _____
Evening 6pm-bedtime
Stomach has to do that much more work to extract
nutrients out of the food. This is especially important
if you have digestive problems.
Example: A teacher of ours had an overweight
patient who lost 50lbs just by chewing her food well!
She didn’t change the contents or amount of her
diet at all.
How Much to Eat
Dinner Time: ________
Hunger Level:
Very Moderately Slightly Not Hungry
What I Drank:
What I Ate:
Chews per Mouthful: ____________
Food Cravings: _______________________________
How I Felt After Eating:
Activity/ Exercise:
Energy Level (circle): Excellent
Good Fair
Low Up and Down Other: _____
It is important to stop eating before you are full in
order to not overwhelm the stomach. Filling the
stomach 80% is recommended. Eating slowly and
chewing well ensures that you will know how full you
are before it’s too late. Smaller portions and
thoroughly chewed food consumed more times
throughout the day is the ideal way to get enough
nutrients without overwhelming the system. When
going out to eat, consider sharing meals or taking
half the food home for later, as restaurants in the US
generally serve twice the amount of food the
stomach can handle. Consider that the empty
stomach is about the size of your fist. Not so big!
How to Eat Mindfully
In Chinese medicine, emotions are a common
etiology of disease. Eating while angry, sad,
anxious/stressed, distracted or on-the-go can lead to
many digestive issues. Mindfulness while eating is a
key factor in healthy digestion.
There is a lot of societal pressure about health and
physical appearance. Foods are used as trends, and
information is always changing about what you should
eat more of and what you should avoid. It is difficult to
just feel good about what you eat. But it is so
important! Feeling guilty about food can make it more
toxic in the body than it naturally would be.
Basic Tip: Be easy on yourself. If you have chosen to
eat something, feel good or at least neutral about that
Advanced Tip: If choosing to eliminate or cut back on
certain foods, have a plan before you begin. Try it for a
week, two weeks, a month or six weeks and see how
you feel at the end of that time. If you slip up and have
that food or find you are eating too much of something
you are trying to cut back on, think about why before
you criticize yourself for it. In fact don’t criticize yourself
at all, but give it another try or revise your strategy.
Extra Advanced Tip: Come up with a little ritual of
gratitude to do before eating. This can be a prayer, a
moment of mental silence, or thinking about all the
people and resources that went in to providing the
food. Then try to stay present throughout the eating
process. Really taste and feel the texture of your food.
For more ideas on mindful eating:
Chews per Mouthful: ________________
Food Cravings: _________________________
How I Felt After Eating:
Activity/ Exercise After Breakfast:
Energy Level (circle):
Good Fair Low Up and Down
Other: __________
Afternoon: 12pm-6pm
Lunch Time: ________
Hunger Level:
Very Moderately Slightly Not Hungry
What I Drank:
What I Ate:
Chews per Mouthful: ___________
Food Cravings: _________________________
How I Felt After Eating:
Daily Food Journal
Name: ________________________
Date: _____________
Weather/Temperature: _____________________
Morning 6am-12pm
Waking Time: __________
Rising Time: _________
Hours of Sleep: ________
How Restful was Sleep: _________
# of Nighttime Urination: _______
Dreams: _____________
Mood Upon Waking: _______
Defecation (color/odor/quantity/difficulty in passing):
Physical Condition upon waking (circle):
Other: __________
Activity/Exercise before breakfast:
Time of Breakfast: _______
Hunger Level:
Very Moderately Slightly Not Hungry
What I Drank:___________________________________
What I Ate:
The Importance of Water
Water helps the body detoxify, flush waste and
regulate temperature. The brain and heart are
composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about
83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles
and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are made
up of 31% water. Those numbers give a new
meaning to the systemic effects of dehydration.
None of those organs are able to function as well if
their water content is low. You can also see why the
quality of the water you drink is so important. Water
that has been chemically should be filtered.
Book Recommendations
Drinking cold water requires energy from the body
to heat that water to 98.5 degrees. Drinking hot,
warm or room temperature water reduces the
amount of energy or qi the body has to spend to
Drinking herbal tea, juice, sparking water or the like
is not the same as drinking water, but it can help
hydrate the body. Caffeine is a diuretic, sparkling
water can be acidic to the body and juice has a
high sugar content (even if it is natural sugar).
Make sure you drink plain water each day. You can
add lemon or mint leaves for taste.
Drinking Enough Water
There’s a lot of debate about how much water is
enough. It varies depending on your body type,
activity of lifestyle, the season and the food you
eat. The more you sweat, the more you should
drink. A rough guideline follows, but remember,
it’s pretty difficult to drink too much water and
most Americans don’t drink anywhere near
enough. A formula for deciding how much is
enough water is to half your body weight and drink
that many ounces a day (example: If you weigh 180
pounds, drink 90 ounces of water a day). A glass of
water first thing in the morning helps the colon
descend bowel movements.
Digestive Health:
Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for
Autism, Dyspraxia, ADD, Dyslexia, Depression,
Schizophrenia, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (also has
Digestive Wellness, Liz Lipsky fourth addition.
Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford (Chinese
medical principles used, recipes)
Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs,
and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers, David Perlmutter
The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding
of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine,
Michael Gershon
Sugar Blues, William Dufty
Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic
Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease, Bharat B.
Aggarwal, PhD
Cook Books:
Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon
Longevity: The Tao of Eating and Healing, Aileen Yaoh
Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation, Sandor
A Spoonful of Ginger, Nina Simonds
Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen, Yuan Wang
A Tradition of Soup, Teresa M. Chen
More On Chinese Medicine:
The Tao of Healthy Eating, Bob Flaws
The Web that Has No Weaver, by Ted Kaptchuk
Wood Becomes Water: Chinese Medicine in Everyday
Life, by Gail Reichstein
Instructions (cont’d)
Drinking While Eating
8. Line an 8- or 9-inch cake pan with
parchment paper. (I just place the cake pan
on top of the parchment paper, draw an
outline of it, cut it out, and place it into the
cake pan.)
9. Pour the oil into the pan atop the parchment
10. Pour the batter into the cake pan atop the
oil, smoothing it out evenly.
11. Bake the crust for 15 minutes.
12. Carefully flip the crust over, and bake it for
another five minutes.
13. Top the pizza as desired.
14. Bake the pizza for another 5-10 minutes until
your toppings have cooked through.
15. Cool, cut, and serve!
Drinking too much liquid with meals dilutes the
digestive enzymes needed to break down food,
which can lead to indigestion, bloating and
malabsorption. At the same time, small sips of warm
water or tea can assist with the manual breakdown
of food (chewing) and the mobility of food through
the esophagus. But make sure the water isn’t cold!
It is best to drink water 30 minutes before or after a
Basic Tip: Drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water
throughout the day. Filtered or mineral/spring water
is best (A couple good water filters, if you are in the
market, are the Berkey filter and the Aqua Rain
Advanced Tip: Shoot for a gallon of water a day.
Get a gallon jug or a couple of half gallon jars and
fill them with filtered or spring/mineral water. Your
goal will be to drink that much water in a day. It’s a
good way to gauge how much water you have had
and how you pace your consumption of an
adequate day’s worth of water.
Super Easy Quinoa Pizza Crust
Cooked Food versus Raw Food
The stomach is like a cooking pot. If the body has
to warm food up to 98.5 degrees, it is doing that
much more work to extract nutrients. Cold and raw
food requires more fire from the stomach to break
down the nutritive elements. If the stomach is weak,
this process can be very taxing. There is great
debate over the nutritive value of raw versus
cooked food. Raw food contains more nutrients and
enzymes, however if it is harder to absorb, the body
may excrete foods without absorbing those
nutrients at all. For some body types and
conditions, raw food is healthy, but from a Chinese
medical perspective, raw foods should be kept to a
minimum, consumed at room temperature, eaten
mostly in the warm months, and eaten fresh/in
Soaking Seeds, Nuts, Grains and Legumes
Many seeds, nuts and oils go rancid or become
oxidized, leading to a severe compromise in their
nutritive qualities. Rancidity can take place in seeds,
nuts and oils before you even purchase them, so it
is important to check the quality and date of your
product. Stale and expired foods with an oil base
shouldn’t be used.
Soaking seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes
deactivates the enzyme inhibitors in dormant
grains, making them easier on the digestive system
and the nutrients more accessible. The plant makes
This is a delicious way to enjoy pizza and feel great
afterwards. You will be surprised by how easy it is to
make. Just be sure to follow ALL of the directions,
and it will turn out wonderful!
! c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
" c. water
# t. sea salt
1 t. baking powder
1 T. oil
1. Rinse the quinoa VERY WELL.
2. Place the rinsed quinoa in a bowl and cover it
with water (about one inch above where the
quinoa sits).
3. Let the quinoa soak overnight (at least eight
4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
5. Drain and RINSE the quinoa VERY WELL again.
6. Place the drained and rinsed quinoa into a
food processor along with the water, salt, and
baking powder.
7. Process the mix for about two minutes until it is
smooth in consistency.
(Continued on next page)
Beef Jerky
Choose a lean cut of meat: sirlon, flank steak, top
round, or eye round.
Freeze the meat for around 3 hours to make slicing
Choose thickness of cut based on preference for
your jerky, anywhere from 1/20” to "”.
Trim off extra fat to avoid spoilage and slice the
Marinate slices for 10-24 hours in any of the
following spices: soy sauce, garlic, hot sauce,
ginger, maple syrup, lime, juice, curry.
Preheat oven or dehydrator to 165 degrees.
Place meat on wire rack or cookie sheet. Cook for
1-3 hours, checking meat every 90 minutes. Flip it
over once during cooking.
Store in dry, airtight containers in fridge up to 2
enzyme inhibitors in grains and nuts so that they
don't germinate under conditions that don't favor
growth. When a seed/grain is soaked in water it
senses that it will be able to grow, the enzyme
inhibitors are deactivated, and then the enzymes
catalyze chemical reactions that promote cell
division and sprouting. Enzyme inhibitors will also
inhibit our digestive enzymes to some extent, this is
why they interfere with digestion, so soaking to
disable them will directly benefit digestion.
Basic Tip: First purchase fresh, raw, unsalted nuts
and seeds for soaking. Put the seeds, nuts, legumes
or grains in a bowl or pot and cover with purified
water. Additionally, salt, apple cider vinegar or
lemon can be added to help break down the husk.
Allow to soak for several hours or overnight. If you
are going to soak for more than 12 hours, be sure to
rinse and add new water. Rinse thoroughly after
soaking and cook grains and legumes immediately.
For nuts and seeds, lay the drained nuts or seeds
out on a tray or baking sheet and put them in a food
dehydrator or oven at a very low temperature (as
low as your oven will go, 150 degrees is ideal) for
several hours, until seeds begin to pop, or nuts feel
light and dry. Alternately you can dry-roast (in a
cast-iron pan or skillet with no oil) seeds on the
stovetop until they become light brown and make
little popping sounds. Store them in an airtight
Advanced Tip: For specifics on salt, ACV and
lemon and soaking specific grains, legumes, seeds
and nuts, and more reasons why to soak, see:
or Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions
Grinding Seeds
If seed husks are not broken open by toasting,
roasting or soaking, they must be ground slightly.
Because the body cannot break down the husks of
seeds, they will come out whole in your poop,
having passed through without adsorption of
nutrients. Using a coffee grinder, blender or food
processor for a few seconds to a minute is an easy,
quick way to break down the husk (if you keep
blending, you can make nut and seed butters or
meal to use in baking).
Sprouting Grains, Nuts and Seeds
Buckwheat, Hemp Seed and Chia Seed Cereal
This is a simple alternative to grain cereals.
Buckwheat, hemp and chia are all seeds, which
provide morning protein without the heaviness and
fatigue that can come for some people after a
breakfast of grains.
" cup chia seeds
" cup hemp seeds
# cup buckwheat
Soak the seeds in water overnight. Rinse the seeds in
the morning and combine with 2-4 cups of water,
depending on how thick you like your cereal. Simmer
on the stove for 20-30 minutes.
You can add fruit, nuts, cinnamon, ginger, sweet
potato, almond milk, and/or honey, or you can make
it a savory cereal and add miso and veggies or meat.
Experiment and enjoy!
Sprouting these foods makes them even more
nutritious and they can be used in all the same
ways. Sprouting involves soaking overnight and
then draining the seeds/nuts/legumes but allowing
them to stay wet. Rinse and drain every 8-12 hours
for approximately 24 hours. For more details:
Bone Broth
A highly nourishing, protein and mineral rich food,
excellent for intestinal health and rebuilding of the
gut lining. A great item to have in the fridge and
freezer for easy reheating. You can sip on the broth
by itself or add veggies (and meat) to make a quick
soup. You can use the broth instead of water for
steaming and boiling other foods (adds great flavor
and nutrient value). Soup bones can be purchased
from most butcheries and grocery stores. The
marrow bones are best, where the bone has been
cut so you have access to the inside of the bone.
Any bones will work. Suggestions are: buffalo, beef,
chicken, lamb, turkey, pork. You can crack poultry
bones with a hammer before boiling to get to the
Put bones and joints (they can contain meat as well)
into a large pot or slow cooker. Cover with water
and add salt to taste. Cook on low for 3-24 hours.
The longer you cook the bones, the more they will
yield. Adding a couple tablespoons of apple cider
vinegar to the water and soaking the bones for 30
minutes before turning on the heat will help extract
minerals. Add peppercorns to the broth if you wish.
Store in the fridge and/or freezer. To use medicinally
as a healer of the gut lining, or to rebuild resources
post-partum, reheat and drink with every meal.
Seeds and nuts are excellent sources of protein and
an easy snack. Seeds contain less fat and more
protein than nuts, and add fiber into the diet. Fiber is
good for many stages of the digestive process,
namely helping foods through the digestive tract and
facilitating easy and complete bowel movements.
When to Eat
Eating Breakfast
According to Chinese Medicine, each organ system
has a time of day when it is strongest. The Spleen
and Stomach, responsible for intake of food,
extraction of nourishment and the use of nourishment
to make blood, fluids and qi, are strongest between
7am and 11am. Many people do not feel hungry in
the morning, however from a CM perspective, those
are the best hours to eat your protein-rich meal, when
the digestive system is strong and ready to process
food. If you don’t feel hungry in the morning, here
are some foods to stimulate the appetite: ginger and
other acrid (spicy) herbs, long grain rice, quinoa,
chickpeas, hazelnuts.
Basic Tip: Morning congee recipe to stimulate the
appetite: combine ! cup long grain rice (white,
brown or both), # cup quinoa, millet, oat groats, or
other whole grains and 10 cups of water in a pot. Add
in other ingredients. Ideas: ginger, cinnamon, nuts,
seeds, fruit, meats, fennel, fenugreek seed, spices,
vegetables, legumes, pretty much anything you like!
Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until a porridge-like
consistency is reached.
Squash Pancakes
Advanced Tip: Put all ingredients and water in a
crockpot on low before bed and wake up to hot
cereal for breakfast. Eat this 5 days a week to
stimulate digestion. Add Chinese herbs like Huang
Qi (Astragalus), Da Zao (Chinese dates), Gou Qi Zi
(Goji berries), Long Yan Rou (Longan fruit), He Zhi
Ma (Black sesame seeds),and He Tao Ren (walnuts)
to the congee with other ingredients to boost qi
and blood.
A simple and easy breakfast or snack.
Another Approach: For some people, grains are
too heavy in the morning. You will know this if you
feel tired or foggy headed or have trouble
concentrating after eating, or if your digestion feels
sluggish. For people like this, or people with
diabetic tendencies, proteins and vegetables are
best in the morning. Greens and eggs, sausage and
sweet potato (not so good for diabetics) or squash,
or veggie and meat soups are examples. One idea
is to put sweet potatoes or squash in the slow
cooker on low overnight and wake up to a steamy
and succulent addition to your protein. Poaching
eggs keeps the grease down for those who feel
weighted down by too much oil in the morning and
you can boil your greens in bone broth.
Stir the ingredients into a batter. Heat a skillet on
the stove and add butter, ghee or
olive/coconut/sesame oil. When the skillet is hot,
fry up the batter like pancakes. You can top them
with butter, maple syrup, jam, yogurt or eat them
Grate 1-2 summer squashes into a bowl
Add a healthy scoop of almond butter (or
sunflower/peanut/cashew/pumpkin seed butter)
Add 1-2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
I like to add walnuts, but you can vary it with many
ingredients and spices
It is tempting to cook a large amount of food at one
time and then eat it over a few days. This is, in fact,
an excellent way to plan for busy days. But food
Seed balls
This is a delicious recipe model to which you can add
your own ingredients. Makes a fun and easy, proteinrich snack.
Ingredients (with their Chinese medical contributions
Sesame seed: nourish Liver blood and Kidney jing
Flax seed: nourish Liver blood
Walnuts: have a warming effect on Kidney, nourish
Pecans: nourish Kidney yin
Honey: assimilates into blood quickly, tonifies yin
Brown rice syrup: to help hold it together
Cinnamon: for flavor, circulation, fights off colds
Goji berries: berries associated with Liver, enriches
Kidney yin, nourishes Liver blood
Dates: Nourish blood
Almond butter
In a food processor, combine equal portions of the
seeds with enough nut butter, dates honey and/or
brown rice syrup to create a thick, doughy texture.
Roll the dough into balls. At this stage you can dust
the balls with unsweetened cocoa powder or
cinnamon so they don’t stick together and look like
Variations: Any dried fruit, nut or seed can be added
to these to create different flavors. You can also try
different kinds of nut and seed butter. Get creative
with it. It’s hard to go wrong!
begins to lose its nutrient value and grow invisible
mold after 24 hours in the refrigerator, so consider
freezing portions of food for future use if you want
it to last more than a day or so.
Eating Late
The last meal of the day should be 2-3 hours before
bed at the latest. Eating late at night can interfere
with sleep. The body is not able to rest when it has
to continue processing food.
Snacking can be the downfall of a healthy diet.
Especially for busy people, it is hard to find easy,
portable snacks that are good for you. At the end
of this guide you will find some recipes for healthy
snacks. Here are a few suggestions:
! trail mix that you make yourself with nuts,
seeds and dried fruit without sugar added
! vegetable chips made in the dehydrator
! beef jerky made in the dehydrator without
sugar or preservatives
! hummus and lightly steamed veggies
! apple slices with almond butter
! lightly salted seaweed
! miso soup
! hard boiled eggs
! baked sweet potatoes, winter squash with
How to Balance Flavors
In Chinese Medicine the twelve internal organs
correspond to the five elements and each element
has a flavor association. The flavor can tonify the
associated organs, but too much of that flavor harms
those organs. For example, sour flavored things are
associated with the wood element and the Gall
Bladder and Liver. Sour foods resonate with those
organs, but too much of them can damage the Liver
or Gall Bladder. Balancing the flavors within a meal
and throughout the day assists all the organs without
taxing any of them. Another good example is sugar
cravings. The Stomach and Spleen are associated
with the earth element and the sweet flavor. A
weakness in the Spleen and/or Stomach can result in
sugar cravings, but sugar is very dampening in the
system and when overused actually makes the Spleen
and Stomach struggle to digest. Good examples of
sweet foods that nourish the Spleen and Stomach are
sweet potatoes, squash and grains. These foods
might satisfy a craving for sugar without damaging
the Spleen and Stomach the way sugar-filled foods
Sweet: Earth; Spleen and Stomach. Sweet foods:
grains, legumes, most meats and dairy products,
most fruit
Sour (astringent): Wood; Gall Bladder and Liver. Sour
foods include lemon, lime, sauerkraut, hawthorn,
vinegars, leeks (sour and pungent) sour and sweet:
olives, aduki beans, raspberries
Cooking Oil Blend
This is a simple oil bend that is well balanced, has a
neutral flavor and can be cooked at high
temperatures or be used uncooked in salads. The
coconut oil helps with metabolism and immunity and
will stay liquid when mixed with the other oils.
1 cup of coconut oil, gently melted
1 cup of expeller-expressed or cold-pressed sesame
1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Insulin Resistance/Metabolic Syndrome/Type II
Diabetes/Obesity: Insulin resistance and diabetes
is at epidemic proportions worldwide. It is no longer
just a problem of industrialized nations, but as our
way of eating (sugar and carb-heavy meals) and
living (stress and pollution) spreads to the far
corners of the world, so do our diseases. There is a
lot of information out there about diabetes and if
you suspect you may be pre-diabetic, consult a
health practitioner. Preventing diabetes is much
easier than treating it once you have it. Adherence
to a low carbohydrate, low sugar diet, with regular
exercise and the inclusion of supplements has been
shown to lower blood sugar levels exponentially.
This is just a brief description of some of the more
common digestive complications out there. We
could write a whole zine on each, including more
comprehensive descriptions of symptoms and
treatments, so please do your own research, see
your acupuncturist, naturopath, integrative medicine
doctor or nutritionist if you think you have one of
these conditions.
Bitter: Fire; Small Intestine and Heart. Bitter foods:
lettuce, rye, coffee, chocolate, dandelion leaf and
root, burdock leaf and root, chamomile, bitter and
sweet: quinoa, asparagus, amaranth, papaya
Salty: Water; Kidney and Bladder. Salt foods include
seaweeds, millet, barley, soy sauce, miso, salt pickles
Spicy (pungent): Metal; Lungs and Large Intestines;
there are warm and cool pungents, here are some
examples of both. Warm: rosemary, garlic, onion,
ginger, black pepper, cinnamon. Cool: Mint, radish,
Sugar (Imbalance of the sweet flavor)
Many prepared and preserved foods contain high
amounts of sugar, because it is addictive and food
companies know it. Crackers, dressings, sauces and
mixes often have sugar added when it is unnecessary.
Check ingredients/labels for sugar - it’s in everything!
Other names for sugar: Brown sugar, Cane crystals,
Cane sugar, Corn sweetener, Corn syrup, Crystalline
fructose, Dextrose, Evaporated cane juice, Organic
evaporated cane juice, Fructose, Fruit juice
concentrates, Glucose, High-fructose corn syrup,
Honey, Agave nectar, Invert sugar, Lactose, Maltose,
Malt syrup, Molasses, Raw sugar, Sucrose, Sugar,
Syrup see the 50 names for sugar at…
Some products like nut butter and dried fruits have
two options on the grocery store shelf, one with and
one without sugar added. Opt for the one without
the extra sugar. Many of these foods are sweet on
their own.
Naturally Occurring Sugar Versus Added Sugar
Sugars that are naturally occurring are balanced
within a food. Examples are fruits, juices, some
vegetables and grains. “Added” sugars can be any
form of sweetener that does not occur naturally
within the food and alters its digestibility.
Sugar Substitutes
Some sugar substitutes are natural (stevia) and some
are formaldehyde-based (aspartame). The less a
sweetener is processed, the easier it is for the body
to absorb.
Sugar alcohols (erythritol, glycerol- also known as
glycerin or glycerine- hydrogenated starch
hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol,
sorbitol, xylitol) are often used in low
carbohydrate/low sugar foods. They can have a
laxative effect and cause other digestive problems.
More importantly, the body does not recognize
these substances as food and so they can contribute
to multiple physical and mental illnesses. They
contain fewer calories/less sugar, but taste less
sweet and so often more is used, defeating the
purpose of the substitution. Be sure to read labeling
to check calorie, carbohydrate and sugar amounts
and avoid sugar alcohols when possible.
IgG Food Allergies: Very common and shifting all the
time, thought to be caused by leaky gut, responsible
for minor to major allergic reaction in many forms.
Fructose Malabsorption: Some people are unable to
absorb free fructose and chains of fructose (called
fructans) in the small intestine unless they are balanced
with glucose molecules. The fructose is left to ferment
in the intestines causing gas, bloating and a prime
environment for candida. For more info:
Low Hydrochloric acid: HCl is the stomach’s natural
acid, needed for the breakdown of food into
molecules. As people age their bodies make less HCl,
so many people over the age of 50 are deficient and
have trouble digesting as a result. For more info:
Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Many links have been
made between the neurons in the brain and the
neurons in the gut lining. Kids with autism almost
always have accompanying digestive problems. Often
for issues like ADD, ADHD, depression and even
schizophrenia, a GAPS diet can reduce symptoms
significantly. For more info:, Gut and
Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism,
Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression,
Schizophrenia by Natasha Campbell-McBride
Many autoimmune symptoms can be greatly
reduced or cured simply by treating a leaky gut. The
intro GAPS diet, mentioned below, is excellent for
healing leaky gut.
Parasites: Generally from consuming unclean food
and/or water. Can go undetected but proliferate in
the GI tract for years, weakening the system.
IBS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, basically a blanket
diagnosis for digestive irregularity existing for more
than 3 months, often brought on by stress and poor
eating habits.
IBD: Inflammatory Bowel Disease Crohn’s Disease
or Ulcerative Colitis- Autoimmune in nature, ulcers
and polyps and bleeding in the digestive tract. This
usually presents as severe digestive upset with
cramping, bleeding and food intolerance.
Natural sugars found in the context of whole foods
are easiest on the system. Sugar found in fruit,
honey, grains and plants is more digestible for most
people. For example maple syrup, honey and
molasses contain minerals that help the body digest
sugar. Combining sugars and starches (which
immediately become sugar in the body) with fiber
and/or protein slows down the absorption of sugar
so blood sugar doesn’t spike the same way. Key
cultural examples of such combinations are baked
potato with sour cream or butter, apples with cheese
or nut butter, and wine and cheese.
*High fructose corn syrup is actually made in a lab
and is much sweeter than real sugar or corn syrup. It
spikes blood sugar and insulin levels to give a much
higher risk for people with diabetes and
hyperlipidemia. It is highly recommended to avoid
foods with high fructose corn syrup.
Celiac Disease: An autoimmune condition in which
exposure to gluten causes an inflammatory reaction
in the small intestine with interferes with the
absorption of nutrients and causes mild to severe
symptoms in the digestive tract, skin and other
Lactose Intolerance: Lactose is a type of sugar
found in milk and other dairy products. Lactose
intolerance develops when the small intestine does
not make enough of an enzyme called lactase. The
body needs this enzyme to digest lactose.
9 Reasons to Avoid Sugar
1) Sugar consumption has a strong negative
impact on the immune system. At a blood sugar
level of 120 and above, the body's ability to destroy
viruses and bacteria is reduced by up to 75%. As
little as 20 grams of sugar has the capacity to
compromise immune function for the 4-6 hours
following ingestion. Recent studies have shown that
long-term daily ingestion of sugar raises the risk of
developing cancer by as much as 60%.
2) Sugar consumption depletes minerals from the
body tissues, skeleton, and teeth. Mineral
depletion occurs from sugar consumption in several
ways. Most obviously, sugar represents "empty"
calories in the diet thereby reducing daily nutrient
intake. In addition, sugar upsets absorption of
nutrients that we do eat by compromising the
integrity of our digestive tract. Finally, a high sugar
diet promotes inflammation and oxidative stress that
out body has to counteract by pulling neutralizing
minerals out of our bony stores and teeth.
3) Sugar consumption leads to weight gain and
cardiovascular disease. Unless the fructose from
sugar consumption is immediately used as fuel, the
liver stores it as fat. Fat is transported away from the
liver into peripheral fat stores by LDL and VLDL
(types of cholesterol), raising the risk for
cardiovascular disease. Oxidative stress from high
blood-glucose compounds this problem by creating
inflammation along the walls of the arteries.
respiratory issues can be signs that something is off
in the gut.
When the digestive tract is inflamed, ulcerated,
overburdened or weak, it cannot absorb the
nutrients, proteins, minerals, vitamins and amino
acids it needs to thrive. Here is a brief blurb on
some of the more common digestive complications
that often go undiagnosed.
Candida: Candida is yeast-like fungus that grows
naturally in the GI tract. A healthy system, full of its
own positive gut bacteria can keep candida in
balance. But if antibiotics that kill off the body’s
bacteria are taken or a sugar and carb-heavy diet
(candida’s favorite foods) is consumed, the balance
is thrown off and candida proliferates and takes
over. It can even spread to the genitourinary system
(“yeast” infections), the skin, lungs, mouth and anus.
It weakens the immune system and can lead to
autoimmune disease.
Leaky Gut: When the intestinal lining is weak or
crippled with candida, the connection between
epithelial cells that line the intestinal walls can
separate, allowing undigested foods into the
bloodstream. The body detects these cells and
attacks them as foreign objects. Some of those cells
are proteins and the body can confuse its own
proteins for those undigested food cells, attacking
them and creating an autoimmune response.
Examples might be miso, kale, seaweed, soup
bones for bone broth and hormone and antibiotic
free meat.
Advanced Tip: Take the advice from the Basic Tip.
Also avoid impulse buys, processed snack foods and
desserts. Avoid the foods you are trying to cut out of
your diet. If they are not in your home, they are
much harder to eat! Check ingredients on all the
things you buy until you know which products
contain the foods you want to be putting in your
Label Reading Tips:
Some Digestive Complications
4) Sugar is addictive. Sugar consumption
stimulates the "reward" centers of the brain by
initiating a surge of dopamine release. This effect is
also seen with the ingestion of cocaine, opiates,
alcohol, amphetamine, and nicotine. In addition,
sugar promotes the release of endorphins, which
create a sense of euphoria and increase the
likelihood of addiction.
5) Sugar causes depression. Because the brain
relies on a stable supply of glucose for normal
functioning, rapidly rising and falling blood glucose
significantly undermine its functioning. Depression,
anxiety, aggression, and fatigue are all side effects
of sugar consumption because the brain struggles
to adapt to the highs and lows in blood sugar
provoked by rapid absorption of glucose from the
For some people, just eating well and cutting back
on sugar and carbohydrates isn’t enough. Because
of the way food and our environment have changed
in the last fifty years, digestive complications are
becoming more common. Very common, in fact.
Food allergies, autoimmune disease and symptoms,
arthritic conditions, mood, energy, neurological,
immunological, cardiovascular, adrenal and
hormonal issues can all stem from the way we eat.
Just because a person doesn’t have digestive
symptoms doesn’t mean they are free from these
conditions. Even contracting common colds
frequently, having tooth decay, skin problems or
6) Sugar consumption leads to insulin resistance
and can pave the way for gestational or type 2
diabetes. The accumulation of fat in the liver
following excess sugar consumption is a trigger for
the body to begin "ignoring" insulin, the hormone
that drives sugar into our cells. As insulin resistance
worsens over time, type 2 diabetes develops.
Complications of diabetes are systemic and can
include cardiovascular disease, kidney damage,
poor wound healing, and neuropathy.
7) Sugar strongly interferes with digestive health
by favoring the growth of intestinal yeast and
slowing the passage of food through the
intestine. Overgrowth of yeast leads to permeability
of the gut wall and undigested proteins can "leak"
into the blood stream. The immune system reacts to
foreign protein in the blood, leading to food
allergies and setting the stage for auto-immune
8) Sugar consumption by children is associated
with learning disabilities, anxiety, attention
deficit disorder, allergies, obesity, tooth decay
and eczema.
9) Sugar consumption during pregnancy can lead
to gestational diabetes, toxemia, and premature
labor. Children born to mothers who consumed high
sugar diets during pregnancy are more likely to be
obese and struggle with insulin resistance and
diabetes during their life.
Because of its strongly addictive quality, sugar
represents an increasingly prevalent portion of the
American diet. Although sugar consumption has
become mainstream, it is important to remember
that sugar is a highly processed plant derivative that
is challenging for the body to process on a daily
basis. Sugar consumption taxes every system in the
body including the digestive system, immune
system, cardiovascular system, and skeletal system.
! If you don’t recognize the name of
something, it might be a tricky way the
manufacturer is covering up for inclusion of
something highly processed, sugary or just
! Whole, fresh foods grown in the same
climate as the eater are always the best.
Pesticide free and organic foods are less
toxic for the body and the planet.
Hormone and antibiotic-free meat! Farmers
markets, local butcheries, small farms and natural
food stores offer alternative meats. Americans
consume more meat than they should on average,
so if you imagine eating less meat but making sure it
is good quality, the price difference is not much, if
anything. Plus it is fresher, tastes better and
generally involves better conditions for the animals.
People don’t need hormones from the animals they
eat to throw off their own delicate hormone balance!
And that way you are supporting the farms that
choose not to inject hormones and antibiotics into
their animals, which inevitably get into our soil and
water. Grass-fed beef and other red meat is far
preferable. Grain-fed animals are often raised on
GMO corn and soy, proven to cause health
problems in humans.
Basic Tip: Don’t shop while hungry! Make a list of
foods you want to start including in your diet that
you haven’t been eating aka, healthy alternatives.
Basic Tip: Start assembling recipes that are more in
alignment with the way you want to be eating.
Include foods that may be new. When you are ready,
plan and shop for a day or two of healthy meals.
Advanced Tip: Do a one-week meal plan, shop once
or twice for the foods you will need and stick to it for
the week to see if that method works for you.
Remember sometimes it takes a little while to get
into the habit of planning and following through, so
don’t get frustrated if there is a transition time.
For some ideas:
A good resource/example for meal planning:
How to Shop for Healthy Food
Here are some basic rules for how to shop for
healthy food:
! The fewer ingredients the better.
Preservatives, additives and processed
ingredients with long names are difficult for
the body to digest and have other negative
health impacts. The more complicated (and
numerous) the ingredients, the more work
your body has to do to break them down.
Ingredients are listed in order of how much
the product contains. This is how companies
get sneaky, including sugar by several names
so they can be further down on the list. In
general, the top three ingredients make up
most of what you are eating.
Diets that are high in sugar have been associated
with high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes,
osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, allergies,
attention deficit disorder, depression, and cancer.
Consider this: it is believed that in 1822 the average
American consumed 45g of sugar every 5 days and
in 2012 the average American consumed 765g of
sugar every 5 days. That’s about 130 pounds of
sugar a year. And most people don’t know half the
time that they are even eating sugar because it is
hidden away in supposedly savory, store-bought
foods. Until the government acknowledges the link
between the spike in American sugar consumption
and serious illness and puts restrictions on the
“sugar-marketing” that has become so prevalent, it
is up to us to regulate our own sugar intake. For
more info on sugar and what it does in the body:
Basic Tip: Cut out all artificial sweeteners. This
avoiding high-fructose corn syrup and all it’s evil
siblings listed above.
Moderate Tip: Try cutting back on sugar by
consuming only less processed and refined sugars
(for 2 weeks, a month, 6 weeks, or forever, whatever
you decide). Those would be things like honey, fruit
juice, maple syrup, brown rice syrup and molasses.
Try not to just replace all the sugary things you’ve
been eating with these better alternatives, but
actually cut back on sweet foods.
Extra Advanced Tip: Take the approach from the
Advanced Tip, but also reduce fruit in the diet for 2
weeks to a month. Fruits with a high glycemic index
(in general, the bigger the fruit, the higher the
glycemic index, i.e. watermelon= very high and
blueberry= quite low) and dried fruits have a lot of
sugar in them and eating a diet high in fruit can
throw the body into a similar state as consuming a
lot of sugar. Fruit, however, provides vitamins,
mineral and fibers that the body needs, while sugar
does not, so there’s no need to cut out fruit forever,
but cutting back on it can benefit the system and
influence dietary habits.
Meal planning
All of this shifting of how and what to eat can feel
intimidating, and it can be a slow process. One of
the easiest ways to ensure you have the foods you
would like to be eating around and in abundance so
you don’t resort to snacking on foods you are trying
to avoid is to plan ahead. Take an hour once or
twice a week and think about what meals you want
to eat for the week and what snacks you would like
to have around. Make a list of meals and the
ingredients you need before you go shopping.
Consult recipes if you like to do that and make sure
you’ll have what you need. There are lots of
resources for healthy recipe ideas, whatever you are
trying to eliminate or add to your diet. See our list of
resources for suggestions. It’s helpful for some
people to have a chart to fill in for the week (see
back pages).