I frequently get calls from people who want to know if acupuncture can help them lose weight. Unfortunately, most have this picture in their mind that after a few sessions on the table, their excess weight will magically melt off their body. If this were the case, acupuncture would be a multi-billion dollar business with an endless amount of buzz.
The reality is that acupuncture can help people who are trying to lose weight, but there is no magic bullet or acupuncture point that will make the pounds melt away.
However, acupuncture helps with weight loss in several of ways. First, it’s really effective if you are trying to break an addiction, whether it’s smoking, alcohol, or food. There are several acupuncture points (many of which are in your ear) that can help decrease cravings–and that includes those cravings for doughnuts, french fries or cheesecake.
Acupuncture can also support your weight loss efforts by decreasing stress. While many people think of acupuncture as an alternative therapy for pain relief, it is also effective in treating stress, anxiety, and depression. How is this helpful in your efforts to drop some weight? Well, most people tend to turn to the refrigerator or the fast food drive through when they’re really stressed or feeling down. And let’s face it, who doesn’t feed those PMS emotional swings with chocolate–and lots of it? By supporting your emotional health with acupuncture treatments, you will avoid some of the situations when emotional eating kicks in instead of common sense and good food choices.
Finally, acupuncture supports weight loss by improving your digestion. You may be thinking, “If I’m digesting better, wouldn’t that be adding weight?” Actually, just the opposite is true. With good digestion, your body won’t crave those foods that derail your weight loss efforts, and you’ll have the energy you need to get through the day without crashing (and maybe even do a little exercise).
In addition, poor digestion leads to a condition in Chinese medicine called dampness. The best way to describe dampness is to compare your body to a farmer’s field. A healthy field has good soil, plenty of sun, and adequate water–all to nourish the plants that will be growing in that field. However, a damp field is one that doesn’t drain well. When it rains, the water sits around in puddles and creates boggy spots in the field.
Excess fat on your body is considered damp tissue. It’s the result of overeating, poor digestion, and your inability to metabolize food and moisture very well. It sits on your body just like soggy puddles in the farmer’s field; it feels heavy, and it kills your motivation to exercise.
So how does acupuncture address dampness? The first order of business is to work on improving your digestion. This is done through a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and food choices that enhance the digestive process. As your digestion gets better, the tendency towards dampness will also improve.
A few ways you can eat for better digestion include:
-Eat foods that are cooked, because they are more easily digested. Try to eat lots of soups, stews, and stir fried dishes.
-Avoid drinking ice cold liquids and eating cold or frozen foods. Limit the amount you drink with meals.
-Choose lighter foods, like vegetables, some fruit, a little protein, and complex carbohydrates.
-Avoid foods that are particularly dampening, like overly greasy foods, concentrated juices, saturated fats, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol.