There is something uniquely painful in trying to conceive and seeing the dreaded period come again and again. There is a heart-sinking feeling with each period. It is being resentful and angry at seeing friends or family members all getting pregnant around you, seemingly without any issue. And there is the stress from the waiting, from all the appointments with the GP and fertility specialists, and from the feeling that sex is now only this practical tool for conception rather than a way towards connexion and pleasure.
During that time, women often receive plenty of (well-meaning) advice. They are often advised to stop drinking alcohol and coffee by their consultant. But diet as a whole is often overlooked even though it’s the nutrients from the diet that are at the base of the healthy development of the egg and later on of the embryo.
A follicle takes around 90 days to develop into an egg that will be mature enough to be released. In that time, it will need the right nutrients to develop well. Amino acids and fats, including omega-3s, to develop the cell membrane. Vitamins and minerals to produce energy. The right level of oxygenation. The right hormones levels, which is influenced by our blood sugar balance and insulin levels. All of those are heavily influenced by diet. By looking after your diet, you are preparing the ground for the embryo to develop well just like you would prepare the ground, add fertilizer, compost etc… for flowers to grow well in your garden.
So what can you do to optimize the environment in which the egg and embryo will develop?
1- Eat real food, not processed, with plenty of vegetables
The bottom line from all the research available so far says that the best diet is one made out non-processed foods with plenty of vegetables. Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? So, let’s avoid instant noodles, breakfast cereals, and chicken nuggets. Sticking to the type of foods ‘that your grandmother (or great grandmother!) would have found’ will help create the right environment for the eggs to develop and then the embryos to implant.
Vegetables are essential too. Not only are they full of vitamins and minerals but they also have plenty of antioxidants that help the body function well.
All the research available so far says that the best diet is one made out non-processed foods with plenty of vegetables
2- Prefer nutrient dense foods
Some foods are particularly dense in nutrients and will give you the right sort of support.
The top Nutrient-Dense foods I would recommend are:
- Liver and other organ meat
- Fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel or salmon
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Bone Broth
3- Eat some protein at each meal
This includes eating some protein at breakfast too. Eating proteins will help to regulate your blood sugar levels and will ensure you get all the amino acids (that’s the stuff you get from protein) you need.
4- Don’t forget the fats
Fats are essential for cells to grow and divide as they form an integral part of the structure of the cell. We need them for the cell to develop well but also to manufacture all the hormones in the body. Omega-3s, in particular, are important. You can find them in oily fish such as salmon, sardines or mackerel, walnut, chia seeds or flaxseeds.
In general, be aware of all the fat reduced or fat-free products. Apart from the fact that they don’t have enough fats in them, the fat is often replaced by sugar to compensate.
Did you know? A very large study following nurses in the US showed that having full-fat dairy products rather than skimmed or semi-skimmed dairy products is linked to lower ovulation problems
5- Ditch the sugar
This is probably the hardest thing to do but sugar is creating inflammation in the body and playing havoc with hormones.
Avoiding sugar is about avoiding the white stuff (sweets, biscuits, soft drinks or fruit juices) but also refined grains (such as white flour, white rice, white pasta etc….) and choosing the wholegrain versions instead. Be aware that often sugar is hidden. If you read labels more carefully, you will notice a high level of sugar in flavored yogurts, ketchup, some tomato sauce, soups, salad dressing etc etc….
Are you trying to conceive? We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey towards a healthy pregnancy. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.
There has been a recurring subject coming up recently in my clinic. One about self-care. Whether you want to have more energy, be more relaxed or less anxious, the first step is often to start looking after yourself better.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it. Whether you are working long hours as a nurse, a teacher or a business person or simply because you’ve wanted to do it all yourselves, work, family and friends, we’ve all fallen into that trap at some point. And the result is always the same. Running on empty, feeling exhausted, being grumpy and irritable.
The first step? Making self-care a priority. And that starts by putting yourself first.
I am sure you have come across the expression ‘You can’t pour from an empty glass’. This describes very well the fact you can’t give if your own glass is empty. To be able to give to others, work well, support your team or your children, you need to have something to give, some energy left in the glass. That’s why taking time to refill your glass up is so essential and selfishly selfless. That’s why it should be part of everyone’s life.
Self-care is a routine in your day, week and year when you take the time to nourish yourself, replenish your energy levels and relax.
1- Take 15 minutes a day to pause
Spend 15 minutes doing an activity that makes you feel good. Maybe it’s something that makes you laugh, something that helps you relax or something that makes you feel great about yourself.
A list of things you could do
- Go for a walk or do some exercise
- Write in a journal
- Watch a funny video
- Read an inspirational book
- Listen to some music you love, one that makes you want to stand up and dance (and do it!)
- Sing (you can sing in the shower so no one can hear you if you feel too self-conscious)
- Have a bath with Epson Salt and Lavender
- Have a look at this post for more ideas.
2- Have a pause in your week
This is about having a break in the week, maybe a couple of hours to spend doing something on your own (No children allowed!)
- Try something new that you have always been wondering about
- Go for a massage (or an acupuncture treatment!)
- Take an hour to read a book in a café without being disturbed
- Go for a long walk in the countryside or even in a park near home
- Do some gardening
- If you are feeling artistic, do some art (painting, music etc…)
- Do some meditation or go to a meditation class …
3- Have a break in the year.
I personally know that I need some regular break during the year. So, I take a break every 4 months or so as I know that keeps me well. Longer than that and I am feeling much more tired (and then I start dropping balls too!). See what is working well for you. How long can you work without a holiday and still be well? What do you tend to do? Book your holidays as it comes or are you more purposeful?
Things that can make a difference when you take a longer break:
- If you have the possibility, try and go away. Being somewhere different helps the energy move in the body and is therefore much more relaxing than staying a home
- Have a break for a day (or more) from all electronics. No emails (of any type!), no social media. Switch your phone or tablet off for the day and enjoy your time without being disturbed by constant notifications.
- If possible, have a two consecutive weeks break once in the year. The first week, we seem to switch off from our daily life and it’s in the second week that we start to really recover from tiredness.
4- Put it in your diary.
The only way you can do all that is to be purposeful about it. You need to make it and treat it as something important, even essential, in your life.
- Plan the year ahead and put your holidays down at work and in your calendar.
- Write down your break in the week in your calendar. Treat it with the same importance than if it was a meeting at work or an appointment with your GP (Because it is as important!) and don’t let other people encroach into that time.
- Make your daily 15 minutes of pause part of your normal daily routine. Maybe it will be part of your lunch break or something you will do once the kitchen is tidy at the end of the day. Making it part of your routine just like brushing your teeth is the best way to be sure it will happen every day.
Over to you:
Do you have a daily routine to relax at the end of the day or nourish yourself? Or is part of the long list of things you ‘ought’ to do or were doing until life just took over?
We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to health. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.
We are now mid-September and there’s still this feeling of the new (school) year floating around. Like a lot of people, I am starting this year with plenty of good resolutions mainly because I am starting a new course this September, learning about nutrition. I know that a full-time Master Degree course and still running the clinic will be challenging energy wise so I’ve been thinking about I can do to look after myself and keep my energy levels up.
In Chinese Medicine, we often think about energy like a bank account. You have your current account and your saving account. As we go along our days, we spend the energy from our current account. Hopefully, there is enough in it to get us through the day (otherwise, we need to go and dip into our savings). If/when there is some energy left at the end of the day, it goes into our saving account.
Our saving account is a buffer for when we need that extra boost of energy.
Our current account gets replenished through sleep, food and ‘nourishing activities’. It gets depleted through work, exercise, everyday activities (and sex!).
I have looked before at what we can do to replenish our energy in this blog post. So this time, I’m going to concentrate on how we can cut down our energy expenditure.
1- Decide WHERE to spend our energy wisely
Very often, we tend to give away some energy we don’t have or more than what we have available. We try to make it look like we have it all together, doing everything and being everything to everyone.
The trick here is to decide what truly matters and what is actually not so important after all. What it means is that we might want to decide that having clean clothes is important but baking cakes from scratch for World Book Day at school isn’t (and buy some cakes/biscuits from the supermarket instead). We might decide that spending 30 mins doing some exercise or going for a walk outside is important but checking how many ‘likes’ we have on our Facebook post isn’t.
We need to decide what matters. And avoid been sucked into activities that aren’t important to US. Saying ‘No, thank you’ to the demands or opportunities so you don’t go on overdraft and have to dip into that saving account.
Remember too that self-care activities are important because looking after yourself is the only way for you to be able to look after others (See below – you can’t pour from an empty cup!). So when looking at what is important, look at what you need to do for your family, for others but think about yourself too.
2- Give priority to those important things.
There is a lovely image to explain that.
Imagine you have some big stones and some sand and you want to carry them in a bucket. If you put the sand in the bucket first, you won’t be able to put many big rocks in there. But if you start with the rocks, you will be able to put the sand around the rocks in the bucket and carry them both together.
Same goes with the important things you want or need to do. Like the rocks, you need to put them first. Put them on your calendar or in your diary. Tell everyone that every Monday evening, you go to your yoga class. Just like a meeting at work, make it non-negotiable. It’s there and you can’t move it.
Then all the not-so important things go second, around the big things. If there isn’t enough space in the bucket/in your day, they will have to wait or maybe they won’t be done at all. And It’s OK because the important things have been done.
3- Learn to delegate.
It often feels like we can do everything or even that we ‘should’ do everything. It could be doing all the housework when children could look after their own bedroom/things or trying to decorate the entire house on our own. Delegating means been able to juggle our energy levels better. It means giving the opportunity to someone to step up and support us. It also means freeing up some time to do other (important!) things.
4- Sacrificing sleep for ‘getting things done’.
I see that one very often at the clinic. It’s usually women who tell me they are exhausted but can’t go to bed any earlier because they need to do x, y and z and the only time they can do it is in the evening. This is not OK. Sleep should be one of your non-negotiable, important things that will take priority over most things (bar a child that is been ill etc… you get the just of it).
So, establish a routine that allows you to have enough sleep every night of the week. Decide how many hours you need (for most people this will be between 7~8 hours) and stick to it.
5- Remember you can’t pour from an empty cup
Trying to do everything and running ourselves down only means that we won’t have the energy left to do the things that really matter to us. Looking after ourselves, saying NO to some demands, allows us to be there for what will really make a difference. To spend time with our family, nurture our friendships, and generally look after ourselves as we would look after a child.
Over to you
What about you? Do you know what are the activities you find nourishing and uplifting?
Are you clear about your own priorities, what is important for you this year and you much you can give to other pursuits that aren’t on the top of your priority list?
We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to health . Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.
In a society where the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality is put on a pedestal, where long hours are the norm, burnout has become an epidemic.
Burnout tends to affect more women than men, probably due to the numerous plates we are supposed to keep up in the air. Our roles as a mother, a wife, a worker, a daughter, a friend etc…. are putting constant demands on us.
But most of us know what it feels to run on empty, whilst not giving ourselves the time to refuel and recover. Add to that the pace of our life, increasingly higher expectations and job insecurity, a big portion of us feels they are constantly under stress. So it’s easy to see how we can end up feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a mixture of:
Exhaustion: Feeling emotionally exhausted, depleted, and a loss of energy.
Cynicism: Having a negative attitude toward clients and those you work with, feeling irritable, and withdrawing from people and activities you once enjoyed.
Inefficacy: Experiencing diminished personal accomplishment, a perceived decline in competence or productivity, and expending energy at work without seeing any results.
Research discovered that men and women process these burnout dimensions differently. Women typically experienced exhaustion first, followed by cynicism, then inefficacy. The men, on the other hand, tended to experience cynicism first and then exhaustion.
What are the signs of burnout?
Burnout is always associated with some very physical and emotional symptoms such as
1- Chronic fatigue, from being tired every day to full on exhaustion where you just can’t face the day ahead.
3- Lack of focus and concentration
4- Physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting or headaches (all of which should be medically assessed).
5- Increased illness.
6- No appetite
7- Anxiety and depression
Burnout in Chinese Medicine.
In Chinese medicine, burnout is what we call a mixed syndrome, one side made of excess (in this case excess stress) and the other of deficiency (tiredness/exhaustion coming from basically doing too much without appropriate rest).
These two sides can feed each other. Stress has an impact on the body, including the digestive system. The more stressed we are, the more impact it has, weakening the digestive system and therefore making us weaker and more tired.
But also, as we are getting more tired, we tend to get stressed more easily, react more quickly. I’m sure most of us have experienced being very short tempered (or feeling low) after a long day (or week!) at work.
I often describe the way the body deals with energy as having two bank accounts. One is a current account that is filling up thanks to a good night of sleep and the appropriate food we are eating. The other is a saving account of energy. As we are going through our day, we are using the energy from our current account. If one day, we are doing too much (aka we need more energy than what is available in our current account), we can go withdraw some energy from our saving account to carry on with our day without too much impact.
If we carry on like this for a while, our saving account is likely to get really low and that’s when we start experiencing so many of the symptoms associated with tiredness/exhaustion, the lack of appetite, anxiety, some type of insomnia, lack of concentration etc…. that are so present when people are burnout.
To be able to feel well again, we need to replenish our saving account. And this happens when we have a little bit of energy leftover at the end of the day in our current account and we can ‘transfer’ it to our saving account at night.
“The first step to heal from burnout is Self Care”
The first step to heal from burnout is self care. In this case, self care is to:
– Learn to handle our energy levels better
– Balance our stress so it affects us as little as possible.
5 Ways To Heal Burnout
1- Eat well.
As the saying goes, ‘You are what You eat’. To be able to feel well and recover that energy, we need to put the right sort of fuel in our bodies. This means drinking enough water and eating a balanced diet. It also means avoiding foods that are creating spikes in your blood sugar level. These are what we call ‘sweet foods’ in Chinese medicine and too much sweetness is weakening the digestive system (Remember the digestive system is where we get the energy from our food. A weaken digestive system means we wont be as efficient to get that energy across). Avoiding sweets, biscuits, white pasta and bread etc… will allow you to recover your energy more quickly by strengthening the digestive system.
2- Sleep well.
Look at how much sleep you are getting. For a week or so, listen to your body and go to bed when you are ready (rather than when the film finishes or when you think it’s’ the ‘right’ time to go to bed). Watch when you are then waking up, if you wake up on your own or because of your alarm, how you are feeling in the morning. It will quickly become clear that you need a certain number of hours to feel well. For some of us, this will be 7 hours, for others it will be 8 or 9.5 hours or maybe 6 hours. Everyone is different. And then make sure you go to bed early enough to get those hours of sleep every night.
3- Remember the saying ‘you can’t pour water from an empty glass’? Well this is the time to fill your glass again.
First of all, decide what activities are nourishing for you. For some people, it will be meeting up with friends, for others going out in the countryside and for others again, this will be having some quiet time on your own or listening to music. Listen to yourself and see what is making you feel happy and well.
Then commit to do one of those activity at least once in the week. Get some ‘ME time’ focusing on feeling well again.
4- Learn to say NO.
Sometimes there are so many demands on our time that we can’t possibly do it all. If we don’t want to have to constantly dig into our saving account (or even better if we want to fill it again), we need to make a choice and decide what is and isn’t really essential in light of the amount of energy we actually have (rather than the energy we are ‘supposed to have’). When another mum at school is asking us to bake some cakes for the school fete, can we do it? Do we have enough energy or are we going to dip into our savings? Is it essential or can we actually say ‘I’m sorry but not this time’?
5- Plan some activities to lower your stress levels.
It is best to spend a little bit of time, 10~15 mins every day doing something that will help you relax. Have a look here at ideas of things you can do.
Over To You
What is helping you when you are starting to feel overwhelmed and burnt out? Do you have strategies in place and are they working for you?
We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to a health . Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.
If you struggle with anxiety, if it’s getting in the way of your everyday life, stopping you from enjoying the things around you, then you are not alone. Our modern life is full of stresses. From random acts of violence, politics or the impact of the environment on ourselves and our health to the ‘small’ everyday stresses on the road (did you just see that car overtaking!?!) or at work, who wouldn’t be anxious?
It is estimated that about 1 in 6 persons have been affected by an ‘neurotic health problem’ in the previous week and women are twice more likely to be affected than men.
There are many types of anxiety, from the very circumstantial anxiety of doing a talk in front of a big audience to more chronic disorders such as panic attacks or general anxiety disorder (GAD).
By learning how to reset our ways to respond to stress, you can allow to calm the anxiety down.
1 : Recognise what is going on
Very often, anxiety shows itself through very physical symptoms. You might be feeling your heart beating, sometimes very quickly, having a feeling of weight over your chest, getting dizzy or nauseous. You might be struggling to fall asleep at night, have some unsettling dreams or nightmares. Or you might have the urge to just run away to escape the situation. All of those are symptoms of anxiety kicking in, a biological response to a perceived threat, even when there is no immediate or direct threat. Remember these are just feelings, not the reality.
2: First Aid technique
The best way to calm anxiety on the go is to concentrate on your breath. Breathing in and out slowly from your nose will help calming your heart rate and your breathing as well as relax your body and mind.
First breathe in through your nose counting to 4, have a brief pause and then breathe out through your nose counting to 4 again. Whilst breathing out, concentrate on any area of tension (shoulders and the forehead when you are frowning are two areas where we often hold our tension) and visualize the tension melting away.
This is simple. Exercise is wonderful to reduce stress and therefore anxiety. Any exercise is ok but even more so if you really enjoy it.
4 : Massage P6
P6 is an acupuncture point on the inside of your arm. This is the same point that is used to ease travel sickness so you can either massage the point with a finger for a couple of minutes on each side or use one of those travel sickness band.
|To locate the point:
P6 is situated between the two tendons on the inside of your arm, about 3 finger width from the wrist (see picture). To check that you are at the right place, put some pressure on that point. It should feel slightly ‘bruisy’.
5: Get some acupuncture
In my clinic, I regularly see people who are or have suffered with anxiety. Acupuncture and ear acupuncture (where you put some very small needles in the ear) are both very efficient at calming anxiety down. But they can also make the body itself stronger so that people are more able to deal with anxiety inducing situations, tackling both the symptoms and the root of the issue.
Over to you
What are your tips to calm anxiety? Not every tip will work with everyone and you might have to do a bit of trial and error before finding what is working best for you.
We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you tackle anxiety. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.
When it comes to getting pregnant, no two journeys are the same. Some women get pregnant at the first try whilst others may find than months or years go by before getting the elusive positive pregnancy test. Some women find they are struggling to get pregnant altogether whilst other struggle even though they’ve already have one (or more) child.
Chinese Medicine has a unique way of looking at the body. An analogy to describe how Chinese medicine is approaching fertility is often used and that’s the one of planting flowers in a garden.
When you are planting flower seeds, you need to prepare the garden and the soil so the conditions are the right ones for the seeds to grow. So, you might remove the weeds, turn the soil and add some compost.
Then, in order to get some beautiful flowers, you want to choose the seeds well. It’s likely that the dried out seeds that have been lost at the bottom of the cupboard for several years won’t give you the same results that fresh, good quality, healthy seeds you’ve just bought.
And then once the seeds are planted at the right time in the year, you want to water then, protect them from frost etc… until they have started to germinate and grow.
In Chinese medicine, we are looking at how well the garden is doing. Are there some weeds that needs to remove or do you need to fertilise the soil? That’s our constitutional diagnosis.
We also look at the seeds. Are these healthy seeds or do they need a bit of TLC? That’s when we work on the quality of the eggs or sperm, trying to ensure that they are the best quality possible.
And then you want to control the climate. Check there is enough water but not too much and so on. That’s when we balance the internal temperature, check there is enough nutrients going to the uterus etc….
There are some simple things you can do at home to ensure that the environment (the soil, the climate and the seeds) will be the best ones to allow the seed to grow into a beautiful flower.
– Have sex regularly, especially during your fertile window
Ovulation usually occurs around day 14 but if your cycle is longer or shorter, ovulation will happen later or sooner. The best time to have sex is the day before or on the day of ovulation so tracking when you are ovulating can be helpful. You can use an app to track your cycle, use ovulation sticks or follow your temperature chart (BBT chart) to give you a better idea of when you are ovulating.
– Look at your diet
Having the right diet will make a big difference. It will help ensuring the soil is top quality for the seeds to germinate. Some foods are known to be causing problems. Coffee, alcohol, sugar and RAW and/or COLD foods are better to be avoided or eradicated. A balanced diet with vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates and fats will promote the right environment.
Some supplements can be helpful too. Vitamin D or CoQ10 are involved in the development of the egg and hormones. Seeing a nutritionist or functional therapist is the best way to find out which supplements will be beneficial for you.
– Lifestyle hacks
Smoking, alcohol and stress all have a negative impact on fertility.
Smoking has been shown to delay conception and to reduce live birth rates in IVF cycles. It damages the egg and the sperm.
Stress is associated with a lower number of follicles and poorer outcome in IVF cycles. This is why it is so important to have some inbuilt system in place in your week where you will be able to de-stress. 15 mins a day spent doing something you really enjoy can make a big difference. You can look at this post for more ideas.
– Have some acupuncture
Acupuncture can help you relax and reduce your stress levels as well as ensuring the environment is the best for the egg/embryo to develop.
Over to You
If you would like to optimise your chances of getting pregnant or if you have bee trying for a while, and wonder how acupuncture could help you, just give me a call on 01642 694063 for a free 15 mins consultation and I’ll be happy to answer your specific questions.
I was attending a workshop last weekend to deepen my knowledge on treating (women’s) pelvic and sexual pain with acupuncture. An astonishing 15% of women will be affected by vulvodynia (pain the vulva area) in their life time as well as 27% of women report pain during intercourse! The effect of pelvic pain and sexual pain can be far ranging, from relationship issues to anxiety, losing days at work and simply the loss of quality of life.
Pain in the vulva area, around the perineum and/or during sex might due to numerous conditions. From trauma (eg after giving birth or surgery) to infections, hormones imbalances etc…, the reasons are varied and need to be addressed in a different way.
But often women are embarrassed about where the pain is as well as what sort discomfort it brings which delays asking for support and going to see their GP. Getting a diagnosis can also take a long time.
What can you do to help ease the pain?
The approach will be multi-modal to address the constellation of symptoms. This can include
- Gentle self-care of the vulva area
- Manual therapy such as (especially tailored) physiotherapy or acupuncture
- Sexual counselling
What can you do at home?
Because the symptoms can be varied, it’s important to remember that not all ‘advice’ will be working for you. Things you can try to help alleviate your symptoms are
- Avoiding rubbing the sensitive area and only ‘patting the area dry’
- Wearing cotton underwear
- Avoiding irritants, including scented products (pads, toilet paper, soap etc..), soaps and bubble baths, some type of condom (latex, lubricated condoms…), some lubricants
- Using heat onto the area
- Or putting a cool compress onto the area (a moistened chamomile tea bag can be great)
- Having a nice bath with Epson Salt or oatmeal
- Use relaxation techniques (such as mindfulness, yoga or Tai Chi)
- Stop smoking
How can acupuncture help with pelvic and sexual pain?
First of all, I want you to know that I know this pain is real. It affects your everyday life because the slightest touch can trigger the pain. It hurts when you have sex, it hurts when you sit down or when you exercise. The pain is real, it’s chronic and often leads to feelings of anxiety as well as frustration.
In Chinese Medicine, pain is a symptom of the Energy not flowing properly. Acupuncture helps to free the flow of Energy and Blood as well as addressing the underlying imbalances disrupting your body’s self-healing abilities.
It can also help reduce the anxiety and stress felt by most sufferers (with very good reasons!).
Some studies have shown that acupuncture helps lessen the pelvic and sexual pain . Usually, with such complex issues, I always approach the problem from different angles, using body acupuncture but also adding ear acupuncture and ear seeds, diet advice and relaxation techniques. This means that we can work both of the symptoms and on the root of the issue. It also means you will have some ‘homework’ (self care) to do at home to help bridge the gap in between two treatments and get the best results possible.
Over to you, are you struggling with pelvic or sexual pain?
We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you dealing pain like this. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.
 Lee E Hullender Rubin et al., Acupuncture Augmentation Of Lidocaine Treatment For Provoked Localized Vulvodynia – A Feasibility And Acceptability Pilot Study, Journal of Lower Genital Tract Diseases. 2017; 21(4S):S2-S3.
 Schlaeger JM et al., Acupuncture for the treatment of vulvodynia: A randomized wait‐list controlled pilot study., J Sex Med 2015;12:1019–1027.
A recent research paper  reminded me of the importance of eating at the right time in the day. It turns out that research is showing that individuals who are eating most their calorie intake later on in the day are more likely to be more overweight than someone who eats more at the start of the day.
Often, I see at the clinic people who skip breakfast, have a quick lunch at their desk and only have a ‘proper meal’ in the evening when they are back at home. It seems to be a quite common pattern for a lot of people. But Chinese Medicine reminds us of the importance of the timing of our meal on our overall health.
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper
Interestingly we find that old saying in many countries, from the UK to China in one form or another. It emphasises the fact that our bodies function in a cycle and that respecting these patterns helps the body run more efficiently. So here are a few tips to make the most of this rhythm.
1- Have a nutritious breakfast.
In Chinese Medicine, the digestive system is the strongest between 7.00 am and 9.00 am. This makes it the ideal time to have a nutritious meal and set you up for the whole day. A 2004 study  showed that food eaten in the morning is also more satisfying so even more reasons to experiment around what to eat for breakfast.
2- Plan to have a nice lunch
Even when you are at work. If you want to avoid the ‘I’ll just grab a sandwich at the work canteen’ syndrome, this is probably will need the most preparation beforehand. I find that having some frozen left over, in single portions, great for that. Otherwise, planning ahead what you will have for lunch allows you to have what you need in the house and maybe do a bit of preparation the night before.
3- Your evening meal should be the lightest of the day.
To be fair, that’s not what we normally do in the UK. But as the body gets ready for a good night sleep, it’s also the time when our digestion slows down (It’s the Yin, calming and restful time of the day). The food ends up being poorly digested leading to all sort of issues, including the weight gain mentioned in the research articles but also issues with bad sleep and feeling full in the morning (That’s probably why so many of us aren’t feeling hungry in the morning to)
4- Leave at least 3 hours between your last meal and going to bed.
For the same reasons mentioned above, this will leave enough time for the body to really start digesting your last meal, reducing all the negative effects of eating too much too late.
Over to you
What are your thoughts on meal timing and how would you feel about trying some of these tips?
We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to a health . Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.
 J. B. Wang et Al (2017) 'Timing of energy intake during the day is associated with the risk of obesity in adults' Am Journal of Clinical Nutrition
 de Castro JM (2004) 'The time of the day of food intake influences overall intake in humans' Journal of Nutrition vol 134(1)
The latest bout of snow has reminded me that we are fully into the seasonal phase that the Chinese call the Major Cold. Its name comes from the fact that this last part of the year, just before the Chinese New Year, is often the coldest part of the year. Consequently, many people are arriving at the clinic suffering from coughs and colds to sinus infections. So what can we do the look after ourselves during that time of the year?
1- Looking after our digestive system.
This is essentially about eating easily digested foods so we can build up our energy and be ready for the Spring.
Easily digested foods are nice warm, cooked foods such as soups or stews. Rice, soups such as chicken soup, cooked vegetables are all beneficial, especially when they are teamed with warning spices such as fresh ginger or nutmeg.
In addition, you might want to avoid cold and raw food as well as foods that are overly sweet or greasy (eg greasy meats or sweet deserts/cakes).
Adequate hydration is also important so sipping a nice, warm herbal tea throughout the day will also be beneficial. Ginger tea is a good choice to stimulate digestion.
2- Bone broth
Bone broth has been used in Europe and in China for generations to keep people healthy. I am always trying to make a big pot of bone broth in the week, drinking a cup in the morning with my breakfast.
Here is how to make your own bone broth
3- Soaking your feet
Soaking your feet in warm water was once a daily habit for many people in China and as a TCM practitioner, this is something I would also recommend as it is surprisingly effective. One recipe for a foot soak, especially good for those of us who tend to have cold extremities in winter, is:
About 50g of ginger, sliced
Half a cup of Epson Salt
Boil the ginger in water for a few minutes.
Take a basin big enough to put both feet in and high enough that you can cover your feet with water, up to your ankles.
Put the boiled water in the basin and add enough water so your feet will be covered. The water should be around 40oC (Please check the temperature before putting your feet in. You don’t want to burn yourself but nor do you want the water to be too cold). Add the Epson Salt.
Soak your feet for about 20mins, adding some boiled water if the water in the basin gets too cold.
It is best to do the soak just before going to bed as it will help you stay warm and get a good night rest.
4- Socks and scarves
It sounds quite obvious but protecting yourself with warm clothes when you go out, including covering your neck (with a scarf for example) is essential. This is also about keeping yourself warm at home by wearing slippers in the house (so your feet don’t get cold) or using bed socks in bed if you tend to be easily cold or have cold feet.
This will help you protect yourself from the cold around you as well as from all these colds and coughs.
It is worth noting that science has found a possible explanation as to why getting cold could lead to getting a cold. It’s all down to the fact that our immune system isn’t as strong when we are cold!
Over to you
What are you doing to keep you warm and healthy during the winter? Do you tend to get ill or tired quite easily or do you waltz through it all?
Sometimes, self-care isn’t enough and you might find that you need a bit more support. If you find that during the winter you don’t seem to shake those coughs and colds or you are getting particularly tired, come and see us. Simply give us a call on 01642794063 and we will help you put those under control.