Practice Updates, Thoughts, and What to Eat

It has been an interesting time to be a business owner and a practitioner of Chinese Medicine. Deciding to stop seeing patients in person was a very difficult decision. My business is considered an “essential business,” however the definition of an “essential health visit” is a bit more gray and is interpreted differently by different people.  It has been difficult to not be fully available for my patients when I know so many are suffering, but at the same time it does not feel right to meet in person yet. I anxiously await accurate, ample testing and further guidance on when and how to reopen for acupuncture treatments. Thank you to all who have reached out with support. 

In the meantime, I’ve had time to reflect upon my practice. The virtual herb consultations have been going really well, and I see an opportunity to encourage this aspect of my practice further.  As many of you know, I study Chinese herbs quite passionately, currently with my teacher Sharon Weizenbaum. Sharon is on a committee of practitioners treating Covid-19 cases applying Classical Chinese theory to diagnose and treat with herbal formulas. These patients tend to have mild to moderate (not in the hospital) symptoms with very great results so far. It’s interesting to consider if any of these patients would have progressed to more severe illness without the herbal medicine intervention. The treatment strategies are being collected and recorded.

In addition to herbs for acute and chronic health conditions, the topic of nutrition has been discussed frequently on the video consultations. I have been curious about the choices people are making at home. While a frozen meal or chips and salsa may make for a convenient dinner after a grueling day of parenting and teleworking, I wonder about the long-term effects of the foods we are choosing to eat now.

Back when I was in acupuncture school, I met with a nutritionist out of sheer confusion over what to eat. She asked me, “What makes you feel like the best version of you every time you eat it?” My answer came quickly and was obvious: My mother’s/(grandmother’s) brisket. This revelation made sense to me. My ancestors were likely eating brisket for many generations, and I grew up eating it at holidays with my family. It makes me feel satiated and satisfied, not full or uncomfortable. Eating leftovers after holidays makes me very happy too. Perhaps brisket does not carry the fame of kale or turmeric or bone broth. But for me, it feels healing. Even though my grandmother is no longer with us, my mother continues the tradition. She once froze a brisket and had it overnighted to me when I lived in California. I was not home for delivery and spent an entire afternoon tracking it down! When I heated up the brisket on my stove, my apartment began to smell like my grandmother’s home which also made me feel loved.

Close your eyes and ask: What dish makes me feel better when I am sick? What holiday recipe makes me feel fully satisfied, but not uncomfortable?  What makes me feel like a great version of me when I eat it? The answers to these questions are my prescription for you. For one patient this was a whole roasted chicken with roasted potatoes. For another patient, it was chicken noodle soup. I would love to hear what comes to your mind!

While we might not be ill or celebrating a holiday, it is a tender time. I hope you enjoy some nourishing, supportive meals.

In good health,

~Molly

As my teacher reminded us when she addressed this topic during last week’s class, our “immune system” is the turning of the whole wheel. When we get good sleep, take in and absorb nutrition, digest and eliminate properly, exercise, have joy and meaning to our lives–when all the systems of the body work well together, our “immune system” is strong. Yin and Yang are in right relationship, and an external pathogen will be easily processed.

When Yin and Yang are out of right relationship, the body is unable to efficiently process the external pathogen. The signs, symptoms, and patterns of the presenting illness will be different for each person, even if they catch the same strain. Herbal formula treatments can be adjusted to the symptoms as they present on the individual patient.

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Maternity Leave #2

February 11, 2019

Maternity leave is a strange time.  I’m not a big fan of the early days.  Skinny newborns are scary to handle, the weird noises they make while sleeping are concerning and disturbing, and the sleep deprivation is no joke.  Even though I had a toddler to add to the mix this time, I found this leave more enjoyable.  Though I was still tired (and irritable), I was calmer and more mentally clear.   

Traditional Chinese customs suggest certain practices during the first 40 days after women give birth to help them heal and recover. While I didn’t follow these ideas precisely, I did embrace the philosophies.  For the first 5+ weeks I rarely left the house.  I didn’t drive.  I showered on occasion.  I didn’t really have visitors.  Everything I ate was warm, cooked, and nourishing.  Jason was home, and between help from my family and our nanny I found it an oddly enjoyable time, though still grueling and demanding.   I was inspired by the ideas in The First Forty Days:  The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother, and recommend new moms read it during the 3rd trimester.

The second part of my leave started with panic:  How will I get back to work?  When will I study?  When will I exercise?  How am I really doing with breastfeeding?  How will I ever fit back into my clothes? 

My past experience of returning to ‘real life’ after my first maternity leave is comforting during times of doubt and concern.

The second part also came with longer stretches of sleep at night (hooray!) and a better understanding of our baby so I could read her cues.  I was able to listen to recorded classes from the graduate mentorship program I’m enrolled in while nursing and introducing baby to walks in her stroller. I began doing yoga most nights after both kids were sleeping.

As I started venturing out of the house, I had a private yoga session with Alicia, lymphatic massages from Danielle, a relaxing and rejuvenating facial from Laura, and acupuncture with Njemile.  Each of these women is very skilled and played a role in getting me back to feeling like me.  I am extremely grateful for their time and care.

My baby is no longer skinny, and I’m more rested.  It’s time to return to work.  I get emotional thinking about it.  I’m eager to return.  I’m eager to keep learning.  I’m sad to leave my baby, but grateful to be able to start part-time and know she is in good hands when I am away.  While I’m still getting back into shape, I am starting to feel fit and strong again.  I’m grateful for the time off.  I look forward to connecting with you soon.

In good health,

Molly

Yes, it’s vegan—but it’s delicious and filling! And easy.

I’m over food labels. Sometimes I eat a meal that is “Paleo.” Sometimes my meals are “low fat,” and sometimes they are “vegan” or “vegetarian.” The most consistent characteristics about my food lately is that it’s real, seasonally appropriate (no watermelon in January!), and digested well. Read the rest of this entry »

Hello patients, friends, and followers,

I have wanted to write to you for some time! I have so much I want to share and will try to do so as concisely as I can 🙂

Despite being diagnosed with PCOS at age 26, I was able to conceive in the fourth month of trying.   For 10 years, I refused Western interventions (namely hormonal birth control), relying on acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy to address my underlying hormonal imbalance. Adding hormones to a hormone imbalance did not resonate with me during my early years of acupuncture school, and was certainly not an option when trying to get pregnant.

And, despite the “advanced maternal age” of 36 when conceiving and 37 when delivering, I had a very healthy and uneventful pregnancy (except for some world-class nausea in the beginning and some gnarly foot swelling at the end).

With the help of Jason, my doula, an amazing doctor, and the Hypnobabies program, I had a natural, un-medicated birth. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s a snow day! It’s a snow weekend! So far we have about 3 inches of snow; with 20+ more expected. I love it! We are hoping the power stays on, but while we have it, we hammered out some cooking. Simmering on the stove right now is a HUGE pot of vegetable soup. I’ve been making it a lot lately. It’s easy, it uses whatever you have on hand, and it’s good! It also is a good dish to eat in the winter, as eating warm soups in cold weather allows us to live in accordance with the seasons.

Always start with mirapoix (onion, celery, and carrot – these 3 ingredients should always be on hand, in my opinion).

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I don’t completely avoid any food/food group, but pasta and wheat products in general aren’t things I tend to eat in large quantities. I was curious to see how Italians ate pasta, and my recent visit provided a lot of insight.

In the US some diets condemn pasta like they would trans fats or soda. The mantras of “the gluten will destroy you,” and “too many carbs will make you fat and give you diabetes” have permeated many of our belief systems.

Observe Italians, and it’s clear that pasta does not make (at least some) people obese.  I saw many slender people order, and finish a plate of pasta. . . with wine, cheese, and bread! “When in Rome”… Read the rest of this entry »

I’d like to share with you 3 recipes that I have been enjoying lately. I believe them to be crowd pleasers as well as nutrient-dense, relatively easy to digest, and delicious. Please leave comments with your feedback if you try these recipes!


Protein Pancake

You’ve heard me discuss the importance of including a warm, cooked grain with breakfast to ignite the digestive/metabolic fire (the spleen yang in Traditional Chinese Medicine terms). To include more protein for a heartier breakfast, try making this protein pancake. Read the rest of this entry »

If it’s Sunday, you can be sure that I will be cooking a big batch of vegetables. In the warmer spring and summer months, I make my version of a ratatouille, but in the colder months I like to make my version of Indian Vegetables.   Living in accordance with the seasons includes eating more warming herbs and spices in the colder months, and Indian cuisine has many.

One of the first things I took away at the start of my degree in Oriental Medicine is the idea that cooked vegetables are easier to digest than their raw counterparts. Cooked vegetables are recommended for weakened digestive systems, and over-consumption of cold, raw foods can damage digestive function.  If food is difficult to digest and /or one presents with a digestive weakness, access to minerals, nutrients, and vitamins is difficult. Cooked vegetables take less digestive qi to process, allowing ease of access to nutrition and energy.

When I weighed over 200 pounds, my constitutional digestive weakness and improper diet of refined grains and sugar, dairy, and greasy/fried food resulted in an accumulation of phlegm-dampness. During the healing process, and ever since, I’ve included as many cooked vegetables into my diet as I can, and it is a constant variable in my health accomplishments. Read the rest of this entry »

An interesting thing happened when I ate a “strictly clean” diet: My once strong digestion weakened. For a period of time I had no wheat, gluten, dairy, flours, white rice or potatoes, sugars (except fruit), or artificial sweeteners. I ate a ton of vegetables, whole grains, root vegetables, organic (and often local) meat, poultry, and fish, and seasonal fruit. These weren’t extreme changes for me, but a more restrictive way of how I normally eat. The trend was slow and gradual, but negative, and it progressed in severity. Strange, right?

With fall came a new season of food choices. There was a marked increase in my intake of winter squashes, cauliflower, broccoli, apples, pears, and Brussels sprouts. It was insidious, but sure enough something further did not agree. My symptoms became concerning, but I figured I had to be able to fix them since these symptoms were not present just several months prior.

So began an era of trial and error and close observation. As I often recommend to my patients, I put on my “detective glasses” and went to work. I was finally able to narrow the culprit down to a few possibilities, and one day it was evident. Read the rest of this entry »