Monday, February 27, 2012


Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine and other ancient healing practices have always used food as one of the ways to balance the body to help prevent and treat disease.  With the understanding that every type of food contains its own characteristics, these wise healers know that the energy contained in what we eat is not just a matter of calories, carbohydrates, fats, and protein, but also has to do with temperature.

Temperature and Health Conditions
Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors also look at temperature as it relates to health conditions.  In allopathic medicine, we rarely think of a physical problem having hot or cold properties, but in Oriental health practices, the body is considered in terms of these qualities depending on the condition.  In this way, specific foods are proscribed to help with the healing process.

Often by instinct we will eat warmer foods in the wintertime and cooler in the summertime, which is our body’s way of helping us to stay in balance.

Warming Foods
Warming foods are yang, which the Chinese represent as the warm, sunny side of a mountain.  They tend to be drying and help to raise the energy of the body by improving circulation and bring heat to the organs, blood, and cells.  The need for warm food is often signaled by these conditions:
·      Cold hands and feet
·      Cold body
·      Diarrhea
·      Stomach pain
·      Bloating
·      Discomfort after eating or drinking cold foods and beverages
·      Sore joints
·      Fluid retention
·      Lack of energy

Warm foods are generally those that take a longer time to grow.  Incorporating them into the diet can help balance the body if you have any of the above symptoms.  Here is a partial list of warming foods:

Cabbage, kale, mustard greens, onions, garlic, winter squash, pumpkin, parsnip, leek, chives, scallions,

Cherries, nectarines, coconut, avocado, cooked or dried fruits

Oats, nuts, seeds

Butter, soybean oil

Most meats, including chicken and lamb


Cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, dry ginger, basil, rosemary

Cooling Foods
Cooling foods are yin, which are damp and represented by the shady, cooler side of the mountain.  These foods help to clear way heat and toxins, calming the blood and moistening the body.  The need for cooling foods is often signaled by these conditions:
·      Hot body
·      Thirst
·      Constipation
·      Strong smelling stool
·      Burning anus after bowl movements
·      Dark yellow urine
·      Heartburn
·      Anxiety
·      Red eyes and face
·      Overly emotional
·      Rapid pulse
·      Headaches
·      Ulcers in the mouth or on the tongue
·      Cold sores
·      Red tongue with yellow coating

Cooling foods generally take less time to grow.  A short list of some of these foods includes:

Lettuce, celery, radish, cucumber, summer squash, broccoli, tomatoes, most leafy veggies, mushrooms, eggplant

Seaweed and seafood

Bananas, pears, oranges, apples, kiwi, watermelon

Millet, amaranth, barley, wheat

Northern, navy, kidney, lima, and mung beans soaked in water 12 hours before cooking

Sprouted grains and legumes

Tofu, egg whites, yogurt

Fresh ginger, mint, marjoram, cilantro, lemon balm,  white peppercorns

Herbal teas, vegetable broths, fruit and vegetable juices

Balanced Foods
Some foods contain naturally balanced thermal qualities.  These include:
·      Root vegetables
·      Black mushrooms
·      Peanuts
·      Olives
·      Lemons
·      Grapes
·      Plums
·      Sunflower seeds

The Color of Food
The color of food can also help you determine its temperature. Green, blue, and purple fruits and vegetables tend to be more cooling than those that are red, orange, or yellow. In this way, a green apple or pepper will be more cooling than one that is red.

The Preparation of Food
How you prepare your food also affects how warming or cooling it will be for the body.  Lightly and quickly cooked foods are more cooling.  Long and slow cooking makes food warmer. 

And now… continue your research…
Understanding the principles of warm and cool foods and the properties of yin and yang is an in-depth study that I can only touch upon here.  My goal is to ignite your interest so that you do your own research into the healing benefits of  balancing your diet with cooling and warming foods.  What better way to expand and balance your approach to well being! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Integrative Medicine: Allopathy and Homeopathy Hand in Hand

The body in form….
I always thought I had a body in perfect form… in top quality, high performance, never-get-seriously sick form.  As a dancer whose been dancing all of my life, this body has almost always been in shape (even when I gained 15 pounds living high on pasta and vino in Italy) and has always been toned, stretched, strong, and reliable.

An uninvited guest…
That is, until about two weeks ago when I found out that the digestive blockage I was trying to resolve with homeopathic medicine and diet was nothing less than an uninvited guest lodged in my sigmoid colon, otherwise known as a tumor!

I’ve got it covered…
I know I write all about natural protocols for keeping healthy.  It’s my pride and joy that I never have had to go to an allopathic doctor in my adult life to resolve a physical problem.  I have lists of my favorite alternative doctors in whichever city I happen to be living in.  Here it’s my Taiwanese traditional Chinese medicine specialist, my Korean electro-acupuncturist, my Argentine muscle-worker, my miracle-working Floridian chiropractor, and my brilliant Russian homoeopathist (ex-allopathic doctor to the astronauts in St. Petersburg.)  I’m always covered and always sure that at least one of them will find a solution to a torn ligament, misaligned spine, digestive problem, and the like.

Or do I?
Well, we are speaking of a digestive problem here.  One that started a little bit less than a year ago.  My usually perfectly functioning system began to perplex me.  Elimination was a problem.  I went for colonics, but my natural ability to cleanse wasn’t up to par, to say the least.  I was staying thin, had my usual resources of energy, but month by month the problem was not resolving.

The rebel…
I finally went to a specialist who advised me to have a colonoscopy.  I rebelled.  Me?  A colonoscopy?  That’s for grannies who don’t know how to use diet and natural protocols.  More months went by.  Now less and less was happening and I wondered, where is it going?  I look the same.  Shouldn’t I be getting bloated, puffy, fat?  I thought I had parasites.  Perfectly treatable with natural formulae.

But nothing was changing and finally I relented and went for tests. 

Giving in…
I had the colonoscopy and then a cat scan and the long and the short of it was that I had a blockage the size of a tennis ball that was taking up 80% of the space in my intestine and I’d better get me to surgery fast before it became an emergency!

I changed my diet to the bland foods I always avoid – white rice, white flour, eggs - with no fruits, veggies, or whole grains in sight.  I went for the surgery. 

Revelatory and humbling note…
Had I had the colonoscopy months ago, the tumor would have been in mini form and easily extractable during the colonoscopy itself.

It’s been a week and I’m at home recuperating.  No exercise for at least a month, which means my assistant teaches my dance classes and I hear all the news.  No lifting (darn, really wanted that cement hauling job), and serious rehearsals for when I’m 104 years old, meaning I’ve got shuffling down to a science.  I’m supposed to walk as much as I can to keep the intestines supple, which I do around the house until fifteen minutes later its time for a nap.  Mostly I’m sleeping, reading, listening to music, and feeling the humanness of my body.

In the normal flow…
Eating whole foods is essential.  Cleansing the body on a regular basis is essential.  I recently read Alejandro Junger’s book, Clean, and believe that his protocols are key for a healthy life.  Being mindful by getting enough rest, avoiding stress, and doing what you love is paramount.  But even with all of this, we are vulnerable creatures, human, with bodies that sometimes tell us to stop, to notice, and to listen.

Using the homeopathic and allopathic…
I completely adhere to integrative medicine, which combines homeopathic with allopathic protocols.  There are times when one is more effective than the other. 

Back from the hospital, I was given no medication other than the advice to take ibuprophin if I needed to.  I haven’t needed to.  I’m on a homeopathic formula given to me by my Russian doctor that has arnica and other healing extracts to get me back to form.  I’m back to eating whole grains, veggies, and fruits; drinking tons of water and lots of organic herbal teas.  But now I’m going to also get my annual allopathic check-ups, my blood tests, and my periodic colonoscopies. 

The lesson…
My lesson in all of this ~ to be wise.  To respect all types of medical science.  Not to self-diagnose.  To be faster in reacting to a problem.  Not to assume that I’m invulnerable.  To understand what it means to LOVE myself in a deeper way by listening and investigating all avenues for health.  To not be afraid.  To trust.  To know that LOVE attracts LOVE and that loving doctors will appear, as they have for me in this experience, even though they came from that dreaded allopathic place!  Everything has its place.

Please take a look at The Body In Form store to find hand-picked items for easy purchase online such as:  vitamins, herbs, beauty products, and self-help, health, and recipe books that encourage you to have a body - and life - in form!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Healing from Eating Disorders Naturally, by Polly Mertens

My name is Polly Mertens and I’m honored to share my life’s wisdom as a guest author The Body In Form.

I recovered from bulimia after 20 years of living with this compulsive overeating disorder. I have come to realize that recovery is not just about changing the way you behave, but also changing the way you think, feel and perceive.  It is my experience that successful treatments for an eating disorder include inner healing and work to connect the addict to their higher self, God, the universe or whatever you choose to call it.

Eating disorders refer to a collection of conditions characterized by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake. These disorders can be very harmful to an individual’s mental and physical health.  The most common types of eating disorders in the United States are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Although primarily thought to affect females, eating disorders affect males as well. The number of eating disorders is increasing all over the world, especially within the United States.

More specifically bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating and purging or consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time. This is followed by an attempt to rid oneself of the food consumed, usually by purging, using laxatives, or excessive exercising.

Treatments for an eating disorder frequently involve more than just stopping the obviously harmful or dysfunctional behaviors of compulsive overeating and purging.  Just as the condition of bulimia is not just about food, recovery must involve more than merely stabilizing your eating patterns. Often eating disorder treatment programs include inner healing with the help of a spiritual connection – with any higher power you may believe in.

Being spiritual is different from being religious. In fact, spirituality is not necessarily about the divine or otherworldly. It can simply mean a better understanding of yourself and a better ability to look within and like what you see.  Most people suffering from an eating disorder have developed a distorted opinion of themselves, their bodies and lack a healthy self-esteem or a feeling of self worth.  Valuing themselves, and ultimately loving themselves unconditionally, is what makes for a more conscious, more complete, and more lasting recovery from an eating disorder. A spiritual healing is a complete, holistic healing.  Healing the body, the mind, and the spirit.  Spiritual practices as part of your treatments for bulimia can take many different forms.

Yoga and Meditation
Some people perform yoga and meditation separately; for others each is inextricably linked to the other. Yoga consists of gentle, but precise and conscious, movements of the body into various positions (asanas) for therapeutic purposes. Meditation is a practice that involves the concentration and the focusing of all inner energies into the here and now.

Ancient Indian sages practiced both yoga and meditation to attain the kind of control over their bodies and minds that allowed them to suspend breathing, go without sustenance for long periods, be impervious to extreme temperatures and more. It’s a testament to the power of the mind!

Using yoga and meditation can be powerful weapons in your fight against an eating disorder, because they can help you to effectively control your mind, defeating negative thoughts and behaviors and fostering healthier ones. They also teach you to look within without apprehension and to love what you find there. Try either approach, or both if you prefer. You will find them to be effective tools in an eating disorder recovery.

Connect with a Higher Power
For many of us, the ultimate solace is communing with the higher being that some of us call God. The roads that we take to reach that spiritual place can be many.  You may read the Bible or other religious texts, attend a service in church, synagogue or mosque, pray, or you may simply sit in a quiet place and reflect.  However you choose, it is the one-on-one time we allow ourselves to individually connect with our higher power, our higher selves, our inner being.

We all need some help from time to time. We become stressed, tense; feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. At these times, you may find that you are able to draw the required energy from the universe, or that you find the solace in a divine being.  It doesn’t matter how you find that help, so long as you do connect to that meaningful, spiritual place within you.

There are good reasons that a higher power plays an important role in any twelve-step recovery program.  Acknowledging a source bigger than yourself can help you find comfort and support in the midst of a bulimia recovery.

Connecting with nature
One of the coping mechanisms that I developed when undergoing my treatments for bulimia was to go hiking in nature.  This was a physical release of energy and stress. At the same time, I found that communing with nature brought solace and peace to my soul.  I connected better with the universe alone on a hike than sitting in meditation.

It is important to find your own spiritual practice.  Choose something that gives you strength while you focus on overcoming bulimia. Finding a spiritual connection helps with inner healing, releasing addiction, and teaches you to love yourself again.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder I would encourage you to check out my website, Get Busy Thriving.  This website is one of the best resources for support and self help methods to help you recover from an eating disorder. Find real bulimia stories, videos and blog posts all aimed at assisting you on your road to recovery. Discover where you can find additional support to enhance the tools we provide you with.  This site is more specifically aimed at bulimia recovery but is applicable to all other eating disorders.

Please take a look at The Body In Form store to find hand-picked items for easy purchase online such as:  vitamins, herbs, beauty products, and self-help, health, and recipe books that encourage you to have a body - and life - in form!