= Menu

Soup: Winter's Salad

As the weather turns colder it's increasingly important to heed Chinese medicine's wisdom around food--particularly if your digestion is less than robust. For many, my most important piece of advice this time of year is to reduce the intake of cold, raw foods. People look at me when I make this suggestion, shocked and confused. "But what about my salad?!" they cry! "Salad" has become synonymous with "healthy," and many of my patients are loathe to give it up. To their cries I answer: "Soup!" Think of soup as winter's salad; this is one of my favorite soup cookbooks.

Soup: Winter's Salad,

Rebecca Katz does a wonderful job showcasing simple, tasty, deeply nourishing soups without falling prey to nutritional hype. I cook her stocks in large batches and freeze them to have on the ready. This time of year I usually spend Sundays with a pot on the stove, cooking two soups for the week: one to serve as or supplement lunches and dinners, and one blended soup for a quick but nutritious--and *warm*-- breakfast when I'm on the go.  (Those 7:30am appointments come early, folks!)  

My latest favorite is her Very Gingery and Garlicky Chicken Soup, made with her Old-Fashioned Chicken Stock I had stored up in the chest freezer:

Soup: Winter's Salad,  

Soup: Winter's Salad,

If you suspect your digestion is less optimal than it could be, be sure to reach out to the clinic. After years of working through the lens of Chinese medicine, it *still* surprises me how often minor tweaks to a person's food choices or eating routine can exact major changes in digestive health. If your issue turns out to be more complex, a series of acupuncture treatments and/or herbal medicine may be just the ticket to get you on track. In any case, reach out--we're here to help!

On Counting Calories

A headline in The New York Times’ Smarter Living Newsletter caught my attention this morning: “Is Counting Calories Harmful?  Helpful?  Should We Even Bother?)”

The question of counting calories comes up a lot in clinic.  In short, I believe there are far better ways to orient ourselves toward a healthy diet and a healthy relationship with food than in the tracking of a number.  

In the words of the author Michael Pollan in his book Food Rules, my first recommendation is simple: Eat Real Food. Too simplistic?  In a country where most grocery stores contain more food-like-substances than actual food, eating real food is far more difficult than it sounds.  For many people confused by the maelstrom of nutritional “guidance” bombarding us on a daily basis, the simplicity of this mandate is a welcome change. Eat real food.  This is where we begin, and real food doesn’t list calories. How do you measure the calories in the bowl of home-cooked garlic-ginger chicken and vegetable soup you had for dinner?

The second big piece is to encourage you to give your body back to yourself.  Counting calories turns your relationship to food into something external.  I want to turn your attention inward. I want you to be curious about yourself and pay attention to your body.  I want you to get to know and trust yourself again.  I want you to notice when you’re hungry and full, when you’re snacking and why, and how these factors affect your digestion, your mood, your sleep.  Is eating the only thing you’re doing, or are you juggling work, driving, social media and Netflix all while mindlessly moving fork to face? If it's the latter, of course you can’t tell when you’re full--you're too busy to notice!! The argument for calorie-counting in the service of portion control readily evaporates in the face of actually paying attention to the fact that we’re eating.  Then there’s the physiological piece. For example, from Chinese medicine’s perspective on metabolism, the number of calories you eat is irrelevant if you never experience a healthy grumble in your tummy—we need to stimulate and/or decongest your digestion. Similarly if you snack because your belly aches when it’s empty, then that’s where we focus our energies— worrying about the calorie count of the snacks is a distraction. 

Next of course come personalized recommendations based on your individual constitution and presentation… but that’s for another post (or office visit).  For now, eat real food, and savor it while doing so.

Health Preservation Exercises, Part 6

by Alexa Gilmore, LAc, MAcOM

Did you think I forgot about you?  We're back with exercises 9 and 10...

"What's that point for?" and Happy Anniversary!

by Alexa Gilmore, LAc, MAcOM

We're taking a little break from our Health Preservation Exercises series (don't worry, we'll get back to them and finish up soon), because today, March 1, 2015, marks 2 years that I've been in practice in Maine.  I am so deeply grateful to all of the people who have made my first couple of years here as successful as I could have imagined--my family, my friends, my colleagues in Portland's incredible health care community, and, of course, you!  My patients! You bless me and my office every day with your commitment to your health.  Thank you for putting your trust in me.  Thank you for believing in my dedication to you.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to practice and study and work with the medicine I love, day in, day out.  Thank you thank you thank you.

Today, we'll celebrate with an answer to a question I've fielded every day since my very first in clinic, so many years ago:  "What's that point for?"  Enjoy!

Health Preservation Exercises, Part 5

by Alexa Gilmore, LAc, MAcOM

Today we finish exercises on the head and scalp.  Stayed tuned for more as we work our way down the body, awakening and energizing the limbs and torso.

Health Preservation Exercises, Part 4

by Alexa Gilmore, LAc, MAcOM

Next installment...

Health Preservation Exercises, Part 3

by Alexa Gilmore, LAc, MAcOM

I did mine this morning... did you?!  Here's your second day of exercises.  Build your practice day by day and you'll have the full routine down in  no time.