We all know there are a million different pieces of advice about how to eat well. Most of the information we receive talks about calories, carbs, cholesterol, and sugar. While these are important to consider, there are also deeper, underlying factors that determine our relationship with food. In Chinese Medicine and Qi Gong, we look at the root causes of our eating habits, as well as how we can care for our digestive organs in a healthy and loving way. This blog post will discuss the connection between our emotions and our diet, and how we can cultivate positive habits to help protect our health and nourish our well being.
Emotions and Diet
When it comes to eating, we pay a lot of attention to what we consume, but not always to the how or why. However, the way in which we eat is very important, as are the reasons that determine our choices in foods.
On both a physiological and energetic level, eating is a process of taking in valuable, life-sustaining energy. You swallow your food and then your body miraculously transforms the calories in your meal into calories of energy to sustain your physical body. Without even thinking about it, your organs know how to break down your food, extract nutrients, and then use it to repair and build your physical being. In a very literal sense, you become what you eat.
While it’s usually easier to identify what’s happening in the physical world, eating also has a powerful impact on our energetic body as well. In Chinese Medicine and Qi Gong, we view food as Qi. Just as we practice Qi Gong to cultivate our internal energy and emotions, eating can have the same positive effect on our energetic body… if we let it.
Too often, people view eating simply as a way to appease our appetite and enjoy something yummy so we can go about our day. After all, most of us lead busy lives and are constantly trying to find more ways to save time and to be as “efficient” as possible. Have you ever found yourself scarfing down your meal as quickly as possible to get to your next activity? How about eating while you drive on your way to work or school? While taking shortcuts at mealtime may save you a few minutes, it’s also robbing you of the opportunity to absorb the fullness of Qi that your food has to offer.
Why does it matter how fast or slow you eat? The food is still going to the same place, right!?
In Qi Gong, we view eating not just as a process of digesting calories, but also as a process of digesting emotions. If you are feeling stressed or angry when you eat, those emotions will be digested and integrated into your energetic body. Eating in presentness and joy allows you to fully absorb the richness of your food, and nourishes the positive emotional qualities that we wish to cultivate. Why do you think we naturally feel drawn to sitting down with loved ones to enjoy our meal? It’s certainly not to save time and eat in the most expeditious way possible! When we slow down and view mealtime as its own activity, worthy of time and attention, it not only feels better emotionally, but it helps our digestive system to process our food in the most healthy way possible.
In addition to what and how you eat, it’s also important to understand why you eat. If we are really honest with ourselves, we’ll notice that not all of our mealtimes are determined by a true and healthy desire for nourishment.
In America, it’s very common to turn to food for emotional coping. It’s part of our cultural tendency to view “more” as the solution to things that frustrate us. This doesn’t just apply to our relationship with food. Excessive materialism and over-consumption of all sorts thrive on the false belief that “more” will fix things.
While eating may sometimes give you a quick release of tension or stress, unhealthy eating habits don’t lead to greater happiness or improved well-being. Rather, they end up nurturing negative emotions and taxing the body in ways that don’t serve us. Therefore, it’s important to identify unhealthy eating tendencies and cultivate a relationship with food that nourishes our entire body and mind.
Qi Gong for Healthy Digestion
In Chinese Medicine and Qi Gong, our digestion is related to the heart element, and the process by which digestion takes place is called “the metabolic fire.” The metabolic fire transforms our meal into Qi to nourish both our physical and energetic bodies.
When our metabolic fire is strong, we’re able to break down our food, absorb its nutrients, and let go of what we don’t need. When our metabolic fire is diminished, we’re not able to process our food in the same healthy and efficient manner. This results in digestive issues and discomfort.
As we discussed above, our emotions play a huge role in our relationship with food and digestion. In Qi Gong for Healthy Digestion, we learn how to cultivate a deeper awareness of our emotions and how they’re connected to our eating habits.
Since Qi Gong is a practice that takes us beyond our intellect, we’re able to experience the connection between our emotions, diet, and digestive health in an entirely new way. Instead of simply following “rules” about what we should and shouldn’t eat, we’re able to experience what is best for us from a place of body awareness. This allows us to not only feel drawn to healthier foods, but also to eat in a way that helps us to feel excellent—and maximizes the quality of our Qi.
Cultivating a healthy relationship with food and strong digestion has a different effect for everyone based on their individual needs. For some, it means finding their appetite and taking in more nutrients. For others, it means learning how to eat less and choosing foods that reduce their weight and lead to a healthier lifestyle. And for others, it means overcoming a digestive issue that has been causing pain and inhibiting their overall well-being. Regardless of your specific relationship with food, Qi Gong for Healthy Digestion helps you to find your most healthy and enjoyable relationship with food.
Qi Gong for Healthy Digestion Workshop
On Sunday, August 11th, Lee will be leading a workshop on Qi Gong for Healthy Digestion! Through Lee’s training, students will have the opportunity to learn about some of the root causes of many digestive issues and weight gain, as well as real-life practices to cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Practices include pre-meal-time Qi Gong routines, post-meal routines, pressure point techniques, and breathing exercises to massage the organs.
Lee’s Qi Gong practices have already helped countless individuals lose weight and address many different digestive issues. His success has allowed him the opportunity to work with Weight Watchers as a lead wellness director where he helped teach his students to cultivate a healthy body and mind through movement. Now, he’s looking forward to sharing his wisdom about digestive health with the Holden QiGong community.
The workshop will be taking place between 1 – 4:30pm in Santa Cruz, California, but participants can also follow along from their own homes. Your body and mind rely on the Qi that food provides, so click the link below to learn more about this exciting opportunity.