TCM Perspective: Obtaining and Maintaining a Healthy Weight
New year, new you! How many of us, among other new year’s resolutions, intend to lose weight and maintain a healthy figure in 2016? Weight loss and maintenance are top concerns for many people but often, information overload and misconceptions make it hard to keep track of what to do to achieve such goals.
Have you heard of globesity? Globesity is a new word created to emphasize the phenomenon of increasing global obesity and weight problems. China is still a country with a low level of obese adults; however, obesity levels are increasing in urban areas like Shanghai. Weight gain can be a problem for both expats and Chinese in Shanghai, with the availability of fast (and plentiful) food and a stressful, modern lifestyle that may involve eating at restaurants, drinking alcohol frequently and getting little exercise.
Obesity is the medical term for excess body fat which has accumulated to the point of having potential negative effects on health. It is generally measured by looking at the person’s BMI (Body Mass Index). Obesity starts with excess weight and increasing body fat; symptoms include breathlessness, sweating, snoring (and related sleep problems). Physical activities are very tiresome and back and joint pain will follow.
Obese individuals are at increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Ideally, when someone starts to gain too much weight, it is time to take steps to prevent future obesity and all the related health problems.
TCM’s View on Weight Gain
According to TCM, good health is the result of a body and soul functioning in balance and harmony. The harmony is not only dependent on habits and lifestyle, but also on the body’s flow of Qi and the balance of Yin and Yang. If the body is emotionally and energetically healthy, it keeps its form and natural weight. The imbalances that commonly cause obesity are described in these three disease patterns:
- Stomach heat and deficient spleen function: Overconsumption of fatty and oily foods, too much spicy food and too much alcohol produce heat in the stomach. As the stomach and spleen work together (the spleen is viewed differently in TCM from Western medicine), this damages and weakens spleen functioning.
- External influences such as wind, heat, and dampness damage the spleen’s functioning.
- Qi stagnation: Emotional stress can damage the Qi-energy so that the liver Qi stagnates. In Chinese medicine the liver has to take care of the spleen, which is essential in the digestive system. If the liver Qi stagnates, the spleen cannot perform its duties of digestion and fluid accumulates in the tissues. This leads to obesity.
Chinese medicine does not support starving or strict diets to lose weight. You might have noticed that for Chinese people missing a meal is nearly unbearable! Missing a meal means messing up the body’s Qi energy and can have multiple side effects. Western medicine also now acknowledges that starving/extreme dieting generally doesn’t work for long-term weight loss and can affect overall health.
Integrative Weight Loss and Health Solutions in Shanghai
Chinese medicine offers a wide range of treatment methods to lose weight. Herbal medicine regulates the body functions and harmonizes the functions of the spleen and stomach. Acupuncture stops craving and increases the flow of blood and Qi.
Along with these treatments, the individual can implement lifestyle changes to improve health and put their body back in balance. Fortunately, our holistic team at Body & Soul can help you with many aspects of health and lifestyle, with TCM treatment, Western diagnostics and medical management, physiotherapy and more. It’s never too late to start living healthy and to obtain a healthy weight!