From milk to eggs to nuts to shellfish, many people suffer through mealtime. Parents fear that their children may touch or accidentally ingest an allergen that could be potentially life-threatening. And children with allergies often live with this same fear. Food issues extend beyond allergies, too. Some people have sensitivities or intolerances to certain foods, which makes for troublesome digestion. For example, lactose—the natural sugar contained in cow’s milk—is difficult for many people to digest.
Allergens and the severity of a reaction to an allergen can change (they usually lessen) as a person ages. But while children used to outgrow many allergens by age 5, many reactions are now found to linger long past this age. People with severe allergies are warned to avoid the trigger, if at all possible, and often carry medication as a precautionary measure.
But food is not meant to harm, it’s intended to nourish—the body and the soul. So why do food allergies form? And how do we treat—or prevent—food allergies in the first place?
A Sign of Imbalance
TCM views food allergies as a symptom of a greater, deeper imbalance. Food allergies are not an external problem, but an internal one—and these allergies can be reversed. And while we don’t suggest that you eat a whopping forkful of a food your body cannot yet tolerate, changing your diet to avoid allergens does not get to the root cause of why the allergy occurred in the first place. In simple terms, food is not the problem.
The Stomach/Spleen, Liver/Gallbladder, and Kidney/Bladder must work together to create a healthy digestive system. Food allergies are an indication that these organ systems are not functioning in harmony. When one of the systems is out of balance, the others work to compensate. Because of this, each organ cannot reach its potential. For example, when your Stomach Qi is low or out of balance, your body will likely not be able to fully process certain foods. Luckily, any imbalance can be fixed! As Grand Master Lu shares, when the body is in balance, disease cannot appear. As you bring your Stomach Qi back into balance, your digestion will likely improve and your allergy symptoms may slowly subside or disappear entirely.
Follow these tips to get your digestive system back on track:
- Warm it up! The Stomach loves warmth. Avoid cold foods, raw foods, and ice-cold drinks, even in the summer. Add warming foods, like ginger and cinnamon, as often as possible. Incorporate other foods that boost your Stomach Qi, such as dates, Chinese barley, lotus seed, organic peanuts, sweet potato, and watermelon.
- Practice Qigong! Energy movements work to move Qi throughout your body’s meridian system. Free-flowing Qi is essential to a body in balance. Practice the Four Energy Gates for a whole body tune-up.
- Trace it back! You are part of the bloodline of many generations of ancestors who ate these same foods, likely without problems. Why do you suffer from an allergy to a food your ancestors were able to easily digest? These bloodlines pass to you. When you eliminate a food, you are eliminating all of the wisdom that was passed down in your genes. Through these reactions, you can discover how to balance the body and harmonize with the environment.
- Limit Stressors. Ask yourself, how can you change your life? How can you free yourself from stress and worry? Practice meditation, take walks in nature, and break eggs to release your stress! Removing stress and worry from your life is more important than limiting foods.
- Dig Deeper. If you are willing to open your mind to change, write down when and under what circumstances your food allergies happen or worsen. Dig deeper to try to decipher the root cause of the allergy. What might be out of balance in your life? Remember, body, mind, and spirit are all connected.
Your body was born with wisdom. This wisdom will allow you to heal at a deeper level. Don’t get caught in the cycle of thinking foods are “poison” for your body. Right now, these foods are difficult for your body to break down and digest. But you’ve embarked on a great healing journey, and you can reverse these allergies. You have the power to fix your body. Start now!
This blog post—Regaining Digestive Balance—offers the TCM perspective on digestion. Can you begin to look at food allergies and digestion from the TCM angle?