Calming and Focusing the Mind with Food

January 28, 2021 - by enrica - in Conditions, Diet Therapy

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It most certainly been a challenging time for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you were in Melbourne, we had many restrictions, including a three and a half month lockdown! We learnt about home schooling, working online, working online at home with children, making sure we washed and sanitised our hands enough, remembering our masks, connecting with others online, and living an isolated life. These circumstances and being in the Information Age, we can find ourselves having excessive thoughts and worries. Thinking is indeed useful and is a tool we have to live and enhance our lives. However, when we are not able to manage it and the thinking controls us and takes over our lives, it becomes excessive.

Chinese Medicine & Excessive Thought

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, it can cause several energy imbalances in the body and one of the imbalances is that it can cause Yang aspects of the Heart – Heat, Qi energy and Spirit – to flood upward into the head, rather than having them settled. In severe cases, this may cause fever, headache, irritability, insomnia and mental disturbances. To help calm and focus the mind, Chinese Medicine has diet suggestions to improve the Yin aspect of the Heart to help anchor energy in the Heart again.

Foods to Calm

Some foods that can help to calm the nerves, reduce insomnia and improve mental focus by quietening the Spirit and helping it to stay centred in the Heart include:

  • Oyster shell, which can be in the form of oyster shell calcium
  • Grain: whole wheat, brown rice and oats
  • Mushrooms
  • Silicon foods: oatstraw tea, barley gruel, oat groat tea, cucumber, celery, lettuce
  • Fruit: mulberries and lemons
  • Seeds: chia seeds
  • Spices: dill and basil as food or tea
  • Herbs: chamomile, catnip, scullcap or valerian
  • Animal products: quality cow and goat milk, and ghee for those who can tolerate these foods
  • Magnesium: found in green foods

Foods to Avoid

Food habits and foods which scatter the mind or overheat the body and use up the Yin fluids are to be avoided and include:

  • too many ingredients in meals
  • very spicy or rich foods
  • refined sugar
  • alcohol
  • coffee
  • late-night eating
  • large evening meals

Also, be mindful of not drinking enough water as this can allow the Heat and excess energy to float upwards. Find out how much water you need to drink and what could be the problem if you don’t seem to be absorbing fluid.

Many people find acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to be very beneficial in helping to calm one’s mind so please check in with your local acupuncturist to help you be more Zen!

At Health in Flow Chinese Medicine in the Melbourne CBD, we have stringent COVID-safe practices but please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any concerns.

Pitchford, P. (2002), Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, North Atlantic Books, California.

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

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