3 Pearls of Wisdom from Chinese Medicine about Eating Habits

Taunton Acupuncture Centre logo

Victoria Watson is the owner of Taunton Community Acupuncture Centre which is located on Bath Place.

I started having acupuncture about 20 years ago. The acupuncturist also gave me advice about my eating habits and how I exercised, even how I thought about my body. I found the acupuncture and the advice transformational for my health, both mentally and physically.

Chinese Medicine is comprehensive, it covers every aspect of health, from nutritional to emotional advice. My acupuncturist explained why it was so important to eat breakfast and to avoid phlegm forming foods. It took a while to make changes to my life style, but the benefits were revolutionary: I found that I had more energy and had better control of my blood sugars, this also had a knock on effect on my state of mind, I could think more clearly and felt more buoyant.

The benefits I felt from having acupuncture were so great that I soon decided to train myself. I’ve now been an acupuncturist for 15 years and am still amazed at the depth and breadth of the insights that Chinese Medicine has into the human condition. I’d like to share 3 of these pearls of wisdom with you…

1 – The Stomach as a Cauldron: avoid too much raw and cold food

The Chinese recognised that the process of digestion requires heat, this was long before digestive enzymes were discovered that work optimally at body temperature. The stomach is compared to a cauldron full of hot bubbling soup, eating lots of cold food or drink into this soup will cool it down and make the digestion slow down and our body will have to expend energy to raise the temperature again.

Heat generally speeds the digestion up, and cold slows it down and causes it to stagnate. Long term consumption of raw vegetables and cold food can make us very lethargic due to the extra energy needed to digest it. A weakened digestive system can make us more prone to put on weight. Western science has found that, although a raw carrot contains more vitamins and minerals, our bodies are able to get more out of a lightly cooked carrot. Cooking starts to break down food and aids the stomach’s digestive process.

Traditionally the Chinese would not eat raw food, they stir fry or steam. Here in the West we consider salads to be healthy eating. Chinese Medicine would suggest that we take the temperature of the seasons into consideration: On a hot summer day a salad or a cold drink can be very satisfying and not weaken the digestive system. However, during the winter, eating salads and drinking iced drinks could be detrimental to our health.

2 – 70% Rule

According to Chinese Medicine, our bodies like moderation and regularity. The 70% rule is the opposite of the idea of no pain, no gain.

It is recommended that we should exercise until we are 70% tired, eat until we are 70% full. Exercising until we are 100% tired, means that the body has to expend energy restoring our system. This is particularly true for people who aren’t strong and robust, whose recovery time is slower, but even the most robust of people would benefit from abiding to this rule in the long run. Accepting that our 100% is different to that of other people is very healthy.

With regard to eating until we are 70% full, the stomach can only work efficiently up to this point. We have all eaten until we are fit to burst at some time, especially with Christmas dinners and know that it can feel like the food sits there for ages before going down. This is because we have overwhelmed the capacity of our stomach to digest.

3 – Breakfast like a King

The saying goes, breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and sup like a pauper.


The Chinese have had an explanation as to why breakfast is the most important meal of the day for thousands of years. There are 12 main channels or meridians in Chinese Medicine that are each associated with an organ in the body. Throughout the 24 hours in the day the energy is strongest in each of the meridians for 2 hours in succession. The stomach meridian is strongest between 7.00am and 9.00am – breakfast time.

This means that our digestive system is at its most efficient at this time and we get the most out of our food at this time. Conversely it is at it’s weakest 12 hours later between 7 and 9 in the evening, when most of us in this country have our main meal. Eating a large meal at this time in the evening exhausts the digestive system.

Definitely some food for thought for us all!

For information on Acupuncture, please visit www.tauntonacupuncture.com.

Victoria Watson  BSc Hons Lic Ac MBAcC

Taunton Community Acupuncture Centre can be found at First Floor, Powers Chambers,  Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER.
(Next door to Brendon Books).

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