During stressful times it is easy to reach for treats like crisps and chocolate to feel good and self soothe. But don’t be tempted to fill your body with only comfort food. In the long term, it causes more harm than good. Eating lots of fried food such as chips, sugary food such as biscuits, bread and pasta in large amounts, or drinking alcohol in excess will damage the liver and slow the metabolism, leading to weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and even diabetes and osteoporosis.
There is nothing wrong with these foods in small amounts, but if they become daily dietary intake there will be problems. Instead, use this time to create balance in your life. Healthy cooking expert and author, Joanne Faulkner, offers these tips to activate your energy.
1. Spring clean your liver. As a detox organ, it needs plenty of sour foods such as lemon, lime, rhubarb, plums, and fermented food such as olives and pickles. If you are craving sugar or carbohydrate-filled foods, try eating or drinking something sour — it distracts the mind and tastebuds from the sweet stuff. Keeping your liver healthy helps metabolise fats so that you don’t end up piling on a spare tyre around your middle during this time.
2. Don’t forget to move. Many of us have lost our daily routines that keep us moving, but it is important not to become a couch potato. Stretch your body. In Chinese medicine, the liver controls the tendons and ligaments so make sure you are moving about. This doesn’t have to be hyperflexible yoga or jogging outside in the park, try gentle chi gong or tai chi, there are plenty of free online resources on YouTube. Inhale to stretch to the ceiling, out to the side, and rolling down to touch the floor. Or join Joanne Faulkner on Facebook live every morning for chi gong movement at 8.30am, or watch back at any time on her Facebook page.
3. Eat your greens. In Chinese medicine green-yellow is the colour that helps clear the liver, so foods such as spinach, kale, broccoli, green beans, courgette, rocket, cress, sugar snap peas, mangetout, avocado, and apples support detox and clean the blood. In Western terms, the green colour means the food is full of chlorophyll, stimulating the gallbladder, the partner organ to the liver, to produce bile. This vital chemical digests fats and makes sure waste products leave the body. A clogged liver means stiff and sore joints, causing conditions such as arthritis, gout, tennis elbow, and bursitis. Eating green, sour, foods can help with painful joints, making sure the body does not seize up, sitting on the couch.
In this time of change, rather than it being about less and loss, see it as bringing something new into your life. There is a saying in Chinese medicine that trying something new adds a week to your life, so why not emerge from this experience with new skills, new food, new ways of thinking, and maybe many extra years to your life. For more information on conscious cooking, or to buy Joanne Faulkern' book of recipes, tips, and Chinese medicine, visit www.joannefaulkner.ie or find @joannefaulknerShiatsu on Facebook.