Jul 22, 2011

Trying to Heal With Cooked Foods

Roasted vegies with steamed baby kale

I know I know, I’ve been "MIA" as I’ve seen it written up ("Missing In Action" for those a little slower to catch on - I feel for you coz it’s usually me) but I' ve been very humbled by a few people asking me when my next post was coming up; and from people I didn't even know read my blog! So thankyou :)

Last week I was house sitting with no Internet (which was actually quite peaceful) and since then I’ve been busy finishing assessments for college, going to college, working... Minimal gym sessions thanks to a vertebrae deciding to pop out of where it’s supposed to live leaving me in quite a lot of pain, but on the plus side I’ve been doing more yoga which has been wonderful! Aside from that, same old same old, except for my diet -

Cooked foods.

Yep. And pretty much solely. A complete 180. For the last month about I’ve been eating a cooked food diet (if there is such a thing?) to try and heal. Wait - try and heal? Heal what? Yep... read on.

I’m a firm believer in listening to what your body needs. I also believe that one particular way of eating definatley does not work for everyone. A raw food diet is fantastic; but not for everyone. A cooked vegan diet is wonderful; but it doesn’t produce energetic-life-giving results to every individual either. Consuming meat is what some people find their body needs in order to function at optimum. And sometimes (which in my experience is usually a slow and steady learning process) it can take a lot of trial and error to get there.

The reason I began eating a solely raw vegan diet was to enhance and further my spirituality. Now I know that might sound as far out there as the thought of aliens and extraterrestrials (so let’s not go there either), but I also know that for some of you, you will be nodding your heads in agreeance or at least in understanding.

So why have I been eating cooked foods? Maybe metaphysically I needed a little pit stop to ground myself before going any further spiritually? A reality check kinda. Who knows. But what I do know was the way my body was feeling the past 3-4 months was not it's optimal. And I was getting really sick of it.

Chickpea and Quinoa Jumbo with Steamed Green Veg

I had been feeling very under the weather to say the least. I’m usually the one bouncing around with energy, feeling great, sleeping well, eating loads. Instead I’d been experiencing tiredness, lethargy, moodiness, constant recurrent headaches, a few migranes, and to be blunt, I couldn’t be f#$*@d doing much!

I didn’t know what was wrong.

From memory it kinda started not long after I had been away on retreat; drinking smoothies for 6 days and doing enemas daily. After another colonic and infra red sauna back in Sydney (they were the icing on the cake where I detoxed hard core!) only then I felt amazing! But not too long after, continuing with enemas for a couple of weeks, there was a low-lying BLAH feeling hanging around.

I was going to bed earlier and earlier, keeping up with my workouts but not over doing it. I tried eating more for energy. Then I tried eating less so my body could rest. Work was the same. College was the same. No other really major dramas going on but I constantly felt exhausted. All the time. And didn’t know what else to do.

Until one session with my kinesiologist where he mentioned I had a “Spleen Qi deficiency” and needed more warming, cooked, drying foods as the amount of raw, cold, juices, salads, smoothies etc was only making things worse (looking back now, filling my colon with water would have obviously been excacerbating the problem more so). 

I left there and decided to do my own research on this “spleen qi deficiency” thing as I’ve been digging my head deeper and deeper into Chinese Medicine and Food Therapy of late and am hooked! A firm believer in herbal remedies and traditional methods I’ve never doubted Chinese Medicine; I just didn’t know enough. So after books and books and online research I was very surprised with what I found -

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (also known as TCM) the Spleen relates to more than the organ itself – it is a system including physical, emotional and mental processes. The Qi is the life force that flows through living beings and it is the energy that enables each organ system to do its job.

So a Spleen Qi Deficiency means that the life force of the Spleen is low, and it won’t be able to perform its functions properly. OK, but the function of the Spleen is what exactly?

I’ll give you one guess… Digestion. Go figure. Story of my life.

The Spleen is in charge of turning food into Qi and then moving it along to our four limbs. So when this doesn’t happen it’s no surprise one would be feeling tired all the time. The body’s ability to generate Qi from foods eaten is compromised, and digestive strength is greatly compromised.

Signs and symptoms include:

- endless loops of worry - yep
- feeling ungrounded or spacey - yep
- weakness and tiredness – hell yeh
- prolonged headaches – they coulda killed me
- bloating of stomach – so uncomfortable
- constipation - yep
- bloody stools with cramps in abdomen – cramps yeh, thankfully no blood
- poor appetite – big time! So not like me
- dizziness - yep
- tired eyes - yep
- in the morning the symptoms tend to become worse – yes yes
- limbs are weak – didn’t wanna move
- tongue is pale and swollen – "scalloped" sides are the tell tale sign, and yep I had em!
- craves sweets – hell yeh
- hemorrhoids – thank god no

And the causes:

- excessive cold, damp, cooling foods
- raw foods, juices, smoothies
- worry, overthinking (taking energy away from digestion), stress... me, me, me!!!

The Spleen is an Earth element organ system, so if we consider what happens to soil when there is too much water - it turns to mud, and things get stuck in the mud – that too is happening inside someone with a Spleen Qi deficiency.

All this was another spin on whatever ‘condition’ I had been suffering from, and as every single symptom and every single cause matched up to my reality, I couldn’t not consider this possibility. All that and the fact that my intuition knew this was my problem and I knew how to rectify it. The only thing I don’t know is how long for.

Warm oat groats with cinnamon, honey and LSA

So for the past month I have been Nourishing My Spleen the way Chinese Medicine has been doing for centuries; eating foods that are deeply nourishing while being easy to digest, and warm in temperature and energetics. Cooked and fresh foods.

Things I've been eating are things like:

- cooked whole grains, brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa
- pumpkin, sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, parsnips, onions, garlic, turnip, mushrooms, fennel, broccoli, cauli, loads and loads of quick-steamed leafy greens (can’t live without my greens)
- chick peas (my home made hummous), black beans, kidney beans, adzuki beans (no sprouts allowed due their cooling effect boo-hoo), small amounts of tempeh and miso
- stewed fruits like apples and pears with cinnamon, dates, dried figs, sour cherries, honey, maple syrup
- black pepper, fresh ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, small amounts of chilli
- and loads and loads of tea!

And ontop of all that I've been making sure I properly sit down to eat, with no distractions, to give my digestion the best possible chance at doing it's job properly. Eating slowly and mindfully. Giving thanks for my food.

But now what? Well I went back to see my kinesiologist and was itching to know if anything had changed, but (no doubt divine timing and a sign to do this cooked thing a little longer) I mentioned before I had a vertebrae pop out of place, so I spent my 90min session wincing and tensing every muscle as I was poked and prodded and manipulated into fixing that up – much better now of course, the man’s a genius!

As for my Spleen Qi and the cooked foods thing... I’m the first to admit I usually like a quick-fix and feel a little disheartened when I don’t get it; "when will this all be better? How long does it take?" But anyone that knows me well knows that I have a tendency of saying “hindsight is a very valuable thing” and I know this to be true at my core. I’ve experienced it time and time again as I’m sure most of you have too. I also know from experience that as soon as I let go of how I want something to be (and my strong wanting for it to BE quickly) things do usually happen quickly, and time flies by. And before I know it; BAM there’s that hindsight!

Surprisingly so, I’ve felt pretty good eating cooked foods again. Anytime previously I’ve felt either very ill, extremely bloated, constipated, sleepy, or like I’ve been covered head to toe in a blanket (nice in Winter though hey). This time my energy levels almost immediately felt much better, my appetite returned, and I haven’t had a headache since. I feel a lot calmer and seem to have been worrying less, sleeping better, and waking up feeling alive (such a good feeling when you’ve felt the total opposite for too long)!!

Warm Lentils and Tomato with Greens and Avo

But a part of me did experience a feeling of death a couple of days ago which brought on tears and strong emotions which was unusual. Death of something past of death of something present I don’t know. My body felt dead. And immediately I felt a strong pull to raw foods. My body wanted the living foods again. I’ve since had a few salads, fresh fruits and today a massive veggie juice and two wheatgrass shots… and feel FABULOUS!

So where to from here? I’ve kinda left you all in the lurch as to what I’m doing now but I’m not even sure myself. I get a feeling that for the next little while there will be warm cooked wholefoods on my plate alongside more salads and juices but like I said, who knows? I don’t want to predict what I will do coz I know from my past that anytime I set out to try and structure the way I eat, I run into problems.

Whatever I do decide to do in each and every moment, I do know that a person with a healthy Spleen feels content and relaxed without overwhelm or confusion, and that’s something I’d choose over chaos and scatteredness anyway.

Oat Superfood Cookies

Enjoy your food.

Whatever it may be :)


  1. Hi Christie,

    I'm one of those folks whom you didn't know that was following you. I first started reading your blogs about the time you went on your juicing retreat and met my sisters' neighbor & friend Victoria Boutenko and her family.

    I'm truly inspired by your energetic & committed approach to optimal healing through, among other things, a vegan diet. You helped me get going on the juice regime, turned me on to Boutenkos' book "Green for Life" & motivated me to continue my quest for spiritual fulfillment (hope that's not too heavy).

    So, when I read this last blog entry I told myself I just had to post a comment. First of all, I've been a vegetarian/vegan/high raw foodist for nearly five years.

    Secondly, I've been eating a similar diet in which you describe for about two years now and for me, it's a well balanced approach that seems to work well. However, our bodies are constantly evolving and as a result, we must accommodate its' current needs (albeit meat of course).

    I agree with you that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to food choices or diet but it seems as though you have found what works for you and your body's current needs.

    I also love your recipes & concoctions because it helps inspire me to be more creative in the kitchen. So, could you pleaaaase post your the latest creations. Oh, by the way, under the oat groats pic the caption mentions LSA, what is LSA?

    Lastly, I would like to know more regarding the spleen qi deficiency; therefore, if you the have time, I would welcome any links, articles, or book recommendations that you care to send me.

    Thanks for blogging and to your health.


  2. The way I do it these days is - raw during the day and then a cooked meal for dinner. Seems like that's what my body and soul is satisfied with currently...

  3. I do something similar. I often eat gluten free steele cut oats with raw nuts, coconut, seeds, etc. for breakfast & have a veggie stir fry in the evening with lots of veggies & either brown rice or quinoa, which seems to work for me right now.

  4. Brian - WOW! I cannot thank you enough for your incredibly kind words. I have never had such words and am so very humbled. So beautiful thank you thank you. I'm so happy that you enjoy reading my blog and that I have been an inspiration to you.
    I will definatley be putting up more recipes for you soon :)
    As for more info on Spleen Qi Deficiency; a great book I;m reading at the moment is called "Traditional Chinese Medicine" by Sheila McNamara, another is "The Essentail Book of Traditional Chinese Medicine Vol.1 Theory" by Liu Yanchi, and another is "The Web That Has No Weaver" by Ted J. Kaptchuk. Additionally, ones I have not read but cannot wait too are ones by Daniel Reid. Fascinating fascinating stuff!

    Oh and LSA is simply a mix of ground up linseeds (aka flaxseeds), sunflower seeds, and almonds.

    Thanks again, I look forward to chatting to you more :)

  5. Christie interesting!!! I cannot believe how similar we are sometimes!! Too much to blab on about here, but lets just say i too have a spleen issue going on as well being treated by chinese herbs n accuouncture. I have dropped ALLRULES around food and now eating exactly what im guided to! Sometimes that is food id deem "not great" but i now conceed the body knows better- i trust it and simply ENJOY it...who knows just what warm creamy custard may b giving my body that i need?! Lol. I also listen re exercise too. Pretty much means no running anymore....gentle walking Mostly...i have conceeded here too that being "ultra fit &lean" was a period of my life thats now passed and its time to experience something different- bring softer , more feminine... One day it MAY decide to revert but im living for the MOMENT and not worring about controlling" something that essentially CANNOT Be controlled AND ultimately knows better! ;p nighty night xxxx

  6. Hey Christie!

    To be honest, I think your cooked diet sounds delicious in its own right. Raw's not a religion - as I sit here, a raw chef, eating oatmeal and drinking coffee! - and I for one enjoy raw food so much better when I'm not TRYING to eat all-raw. Good for you for listening to your body and being determined to figure out the best path(s) for you!

  7. Thanks for the literature recommendations Christie & for defining LSA, who'd ever know. Keep up the good work.


  8. Hi Christie,
    Can you recommend the kinesiologist/chinese medicine guy that you see? Sounds like someone that my husband needs to see!

    I hope that you find what you are looking for and that you begin to feel well x

  9. Ah BRIDG I love you! We both know we're soul sisters born to different mothers haha. I've been for one run in the past couple weeks also :)

    AMBER - thanks for the support :) I love reading your blog for inspiration.

    And JEN, if you shoot me your email I'd be more than happy to receommend my kinesiologist :)