Throughout the 20th century, modern medicine grew exponentially. Cures for deathly illnesses and treatments for ongoing ailments were created. In 1942, penicillin was manufactured and offered widely as a treatment. This period took medicine from its traditional meaning as “the art of healing” (Latin: ars medicina,) to the present description: “The science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease” (New Oxford American Dictionary). Modern medicine has brought with it great discoveries regarding health and healing mentalities; however, with it the art of healing has been misplaced.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) supplies a perspective that does not oppose Western mentalities, but instead, one that compliments Western approaches to nutrition and wellness. Western approaches signify the makeup of food in proteins, fats, carbohydrates, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. While this approach is helpful in understanding the makeup of food and how the body assimilates these compounds, it limits the consumer from assembling a personal understanding of how the body acts on an instinctual level.
TCM perceives food in regards to quality, as opposed to quantifying specific compounds. Different foods carry with them particular energies that can create or inhibit balance on a bio-individual level. Quality of foods includes varying characteristics such as: temperature, flavor and action. Is the food hot or cold? Salty, bitter, or sweet? How does it act in the body? Is it grounding or uplifting? Is it dampening or drying? Heating or cooling? Where, when, and how was it grown? Every body is in different states at varying times. While some characteristics may work for one person, it may not suit the constitution of another, or even the same body, at a different time.
Contemporarily, individuals seek diagnosis and treatment for ailments and disease, instead of assembling personal understandings of how the body reacts on an instinctual level to particular food characteristics at particular times. Many employ the saying “Watch what you eat” in the context of staying fit. Instead the notion of watch what you must be reclaimed in the context of traditional medicine, or the art of healing.
The expression of human creative skill and imagination can be put into the context of food energetics. Art is instinctual. Using the innate knowledge and instinct of the body, along with the rhythmic processes of nature, creates the ability to bring the body into a genuine state of yin and yang and to nurture health, balance weight, and prevent disease.
For example, someone who feels disconnected from themselves and community would benefit from consuming grounding foods such as root vegetables and high protein (pasture raised animal protein, legumes and beans).
Eating locally grown whole food would be beneficial in shifting communally. For those who are overweight, stuck in their ways, and anxious may benefit from eating lightening foods such as: leafy greens, barley and quinoa, fruit, and raw foods. Consuming food from low-stress environments and preparing food in lighter ways (i.e. steaming or gas stove cooking) would be beneficial.
As formally noted, when, where, and how food is grown also plays a role. The body is designed to eat closely with nature, for the body is nature. Food grown bio-dynamically, locally, and seasonally is relevant. While the differences between an apple grown in such a way versus one grown thousands of miles away with the aide of chemicals and large-scale industry may not be quantifiable within contemporary nutrition standards; however, the apple carries with it an experience that can be qualified by the body’s instinctual knowledge and understanding. Eating in such a way allows for the body to better maintain balance with its environment, and thus, itself.
Every food carries an energy that interacts with the energy of the body consuming it. By perceiving food as a means for creativity, exploration, and medicine, one can unlock the power food has to bring the body into balance. A body in balance is a body capable of maximizing energy, maintaining optimum weight, being stress-free, reducing cravings, and sustaining the ability to live in a state of health and wellness.