In Chinese medicine, fat is seen as the product of “phlegm” (Tan), which is fluids that have accumulated then condensed into a more solid form.
From the Chinese point of view, the objective of the digestive process is to transform food into a type of “warm digestive soup” which is turned into nourishment and fuel for the body. If the digestive process is not functioning as well as it should, food gets turned into “dampness” instead of fuel and nourishment. Over time, this dampness will sooner or later transform into phlegm causing you to be overweight.
The main types of obesity
1) Phlegm-damp due to improper lifestyle
Phlegm that causes overweight or obesity comes primarily from poor diet, which prevents the formation of this “warm digestive soup” and the transformation of food into energy. Reasons includes: eating too much raw and/or cold foods, cold beverages, sugary foods, and too many damp-engendering foods (e.g. dairy products, alcohol, fried foods, doughnuts, processed meats, sweets, etc), eating at irregular hours, late at night, or not enough for breakfast and too much for dinner. In this situation, even if your organs are functioning properly, and your digestion appears to be good, this type of diet will eventually cause you to gain weight. You can appear to be healthy but still be slowly gaining excess weight.
2) Weakened Spleen Qi
Qi corresponds to the functions of an organ. In Chinese medicine, the spleen is basically what we think of as the stomach- responsible for “transforming” or digesting food. If it becomes weak, food is not digested or transformed into energy to fuel us, and is instead turned into “dampness” which accumulates and transforms into phlegm. In this situation, even if you have a good diet and avoid the types of foods listed above, you can still gain weight! This explains why certain people eat very little but still put on pounds.
3) Stagnation of liver Qi
The concept of the liver in Chinese medicine is very different from that in Western medicine. It has many functions, but the one that interests us here is the function that promotes the smooth flow of Qi, blood, fluids and emotions in the body. When there is severe emotional stress, humiliation, bitterness, feelings of injustice, anger (internalized or externalized), the regulatory function of the liver is disrupted and energy “stagnates”. In this situation, it loses the capacity to circulate physiological body fluids that then accumulate, condense and transform into phlegm. Stagnation of liver Qi almost always weakens the spleen, which also causes phlegm, resulting in weight gain.
What would Chinese medicine do? Whatever the cause, treatment always involves implementing a more favorable diet, which involves avoiding harmful foods and restoring proper functioning of the spleen/stomach.
- Stop all snacking.
- Eat meals at regular hours, with a savory (not sweet/carb-loaded) breakfast and a light dinner, to promote spleen function.
- Eat easily digestible foods and plenty of vegetables.
- Greatly reduce consumption of sugary foods, dairy, alcohol and fatty foods.
- Eat warm foods and eliminate cold foods.
- Eat cooked foods and eliminate raw foods.
- Reduce your intake of carbohydrates for several weeks but increase your consumption of vegetables and fish. Eat more rice, quinoa, and legumes, and avoid grains from the wheat family, which are very damp producing and generate phlegm.
Red bean Hawthorn Tea
Red bean – 30g
Hawthorn – 30g
Red dates – 5 pieces
1) Wash and the dates and hawthorns and remove the pits; wash the red beans and soak them overnight.
2) In a pot add the above ingredients into 1,5L water. Bring to boil and simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve warm.
Red beans helps in removing dampness in the body. Hawthorns loaded with antioxidants can help to reduce body fats. Red dates helps in nourishing the body and improve our complexion. Drinking Red bean hawthorn tea can help remove water retention and improve obesity.