In TCM weight loss, as with any diet, you have to manage what you eat. There are the low-fat, low-carb, restricted calorie, you-name-it diets. When following the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to weight loss, the goal is to reduce intake of sugars and refined carbohydrate as much as feasible, while still living a balanced, enjoyable life.
I was and still am particularly attune to this fact (although in theory, much more so than in practice). Not only did I translate the below document for the doctor, but each week I got my food chart marked through in red. No ice cream, too much pasta, cut out the sweetened drinks, etc. She also told me to avoid certain types of food that were very high in fat or oils.
Some of the things on her list might seem strange or be unfamiliar to you; it was originally written for a Chinese audience. And I translated it for an English speaking audience living in China; still, I think you’ll get the gist of what you’re allowed and not allowed to eat. Regardless, I’ll summarize at the end.
Guide to Weight Loss Eating
Don’t Eat Sweets or Carbs
◎ Sweets & High-fat Content
NO: Candy, Mayonnaise, Thousand Island Dressing, Bottled/Sweetened Beverages (Soda, Coke, Sprite, Ice Tea, Oolong Tea, Yakult, Yogurt, Soy milk, juice, beer, or any alcohol) , Ice cream, Bubble Milk Tea, Smoothie/Frappe, Snack Foods (Jerky (dried flavored meat), Potato chips, sweetened dried fruit), Cake, Pudding, Cookies, Crackers, or Biscuits…
NO: Watermelon, Hami Melon, Grapes, Banana, Mango, Lychee…
OK: Apple, Kiwi, Tomato, Grapefruit, Pomegranate (only a small handful)
◎ Starchy Foods / Carbohydrates
NO: White Rice, Noodles / Pasta, Tang Yuan (汤圆), Rice Noodles, Udon Noodles, Fried Rice Cake (年糕), Radish Cake, Rice Dumplings (粽子), Meatballs in Hot Pot, Starchy Soup (Suan La Tang 酸辣汤, Cream of Corn Soup) , Spring Rolls, Buns, Man Tou (馒头), White Bread, Fried Dumplings / Pot Stickers (锅贴 / 生煎), Rice Ball, Pasta, Pizza, Egg Pancake (大饼 / 葱油饼), Fried Dough (油条) …
OK: Unprocessed Brown Rice, Job’s tears (Coix Seed), Whole-Grain Bread, Wontons (but only the inside, don’t eat the skin)
NO: Roots / Squash: Potato, Yam, Pumpkin, Taro, Lotus Root, Squash, Water Caltrop, Carrot
OK: Roots / Squash: Lotus Root or Carrot boiled into soup is ok
★ Great: You can enjoy the following types of protein: meat (chicken, beef, pork, duck, fish), eggs, cheese, beans (sprouts, tofu, fresh beans), and nuts (but in moderation: 1-2 small handfuls per week)
Obviously there are a lot of things to avoid and some seems overly strict: no grapes? no mango? NO! Some of those fruits have a very high sugar content. The rest is pretty easy to understand: no sweetened drinks (empty calories and pure sugar), no alcohol, no refined carbs (including, we can safely assume, pizza), no high carb veggies, no high sugar fruits.
It starts to seem very limiting, doesn’t it? But think of all the creativity you still have within those constraints: BBQed veggies, stir-fry, salads with nuts, roast.
And remember your commitment. Why are you here? What’s your goal? In this case, when it comes to cutting the useless carbs out of your diet, the end definitely justifies the means.
For a reminder, print out that page and stick it to your refrigerator or pantry door.
Next post in the series for TCM weight loss: Acupuncture ->