Another holiday season is upon us, and I think we’re all due for some Christmas cheer at this point.
The human in me encourages everyone to get out there and party with reckless abandon; we deserve it. I believe it to be in our nature as social animals to gather together during times of festival, to share food, drink and merriment. The Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor in me agrees, but would add a note or two on my favorite “M” word: moderation.
Moderation: the word both limits us and sets us free. Inside it, we can partake in seasonal epicurean delights – soothing ourselves in comfort foods, sweetening our palates with treats, sweating it out over spices from all over the world, or imbibing sips of festive drinks. Freedom!
But we do so in moderation so that when the last day of the holidays rears its ugly head and Festivus sends us at last to bed, we are comfortably ready to return to our regular lives, feeling nourished and filled with inspiration for the coming year. Moderation acts as a friendly sentinel, an internal “that’s enough!”, forbidding hangovers, nausea, digestive issues and unwanted extra holiday pounds from stealing our vim and vigour as we set forth into 2022.
TCM specifies a few things about moderation in case we require further clarification. Excessive food and drink late at night will cause Stomach Qi to be Stagnant, potentially affecting our sleep quality. This excess of indulgent food and beverages can cause Stomach Qi, which typically moves in a downward direction, to flip and begin Rebelling Upward. This switch of energy direction can lead to a cascade of symptoms, beginning with nausea and acid reflux.
To protect our digestive system, or Spleen Qi, we should avoid excessive amounts of sweet, greasy or cold (raw or physically cold) foods. So as not to block up the flow of our Liver Qi, avoid excess alcohol and spicy food. One of the main signs of stagnant Liver Qi is anger, which could explain those pointless quarrels and bashfully awkward mornings common after many a family holiday shindig.
But if you do throw moderation out the window during the holiday season, use your New Year’s resolutions to bring yourself back to balance. Consider experimenting with some form of fasting or a change in diet. Overindulgence in alcohol can impair Liver Qi, but giving it a break by introducing a dry month or two can help restore the vital energy. Your TCM doctor can also create an herbal formula to help your body rebalance.
Moderation or not, try to add at least 20 minutes of meditation to your daily routine come January to rebalance. Good trade off? Your call. But the TCM doc in me will be whispering “Moderation” into the ether to coax you back from that third helping of dessert or that last shot of single malt Scotch.