Why can’t I eat a salad?

“Don’t eat cold salads.” “You shouldn’t eat raw fruit.” A holistic practitioner might have said these things to you at some point. Have you wondered why? Have you held out hope that at some point the ban might be lifted? Here’s why avoiding uncooked foods might be a good idea for you, and what you may be able to do to return to your former life of raw produce.

One of the things I love most about Chinese medicine is the poetic way of talking about the human body we have inherited from the classics. Even in these modern times, I feel, there are so many things we still don’t understand about the body. Rather than use medical or scientific jargon, why not talk about it using familiar metaphors? In my clinic I will often compare bodily cycles with the seasons of the earth or digestion with the work a cook does in her kitchen. The stomach is fairly accurately represented as a cooking pot: food goes in and your body heats and transforms it into something it can use.

What happens if your body doesn’t have enough heat to cook what you ate? You may notice a variety of things: maybe you feel full after eating only a little bit. Maybe you get a lot of abdominal bloating or gas. Maybe your food comes out the other end still partially undigested. Raw things like cold salads or fruit take more heat and energy to transform before your body can use them. Some people deal just fine with raw greens or an apple a day. But if you are the sort of person who is already a little short on heat, you are more likely to notice the kinds of reactions I described.

There are a lot of reasons your body might not have the heat available to cook your food. There could be an energetic blockage somewhere in your system and heat might be pent up elsewhere, not free to circulate to where it is needed. Maybe you’ve been exposed to a lot of cold and your system just never warmed back up enough. It’s possible that the heat you do have just isn’t getting sent up to the digestive system due to lack of strength along that path.

So where does this leave you? Well, there’s no reason you have to settle for an under-powered stove. During the course of an interview with me I will ask a lot of questions about how your body works, how it has worked in the past, and what you hope for the future. I’ll develop a working theory around why you are having this type of cold, and come up with a plan to treat it. Chinese herbs and acupuncture can do a lot to help increase the amount of heat you have available to put under your cooking pot. If you’d like to learn how this could apply to you, write me at MGGaskinLAc@gmail.com. I’d love to talk one-on-one with you and get that cooking pot bubbling away again!