In 2006, I went to Beijing, China, for an internship. It was an amazing experience training at the prestigious Guan An Men Hospital. Surprisingly, the majority of cases that we saw there were for weight loss and obesity. I had always wanted to try an acupuncture treatment in China. So I asked to be treated. Both the needling technique and actual needles are very different there. I was treated for weight loss. I was very pleased with my treatment and had no initial complaints. The next morning I woke up feeling sick to my stomach. I spent the whole day detoxing and not wanting a bite of food. This was unlike anything I experienced with acupuncture in the States. I had to force myself to eat a protein bar and that was all the food I could initially eat. My body responded to the treatment in a way I did not expect. That night for our celebration dinner I was able to muster down some Peking duck.
I recently read a report from China that claimed up to 20 percent of Chinese children are obese. I was shocked. I don’t remember seeing much of that while I was there. Maybe only a few cases with teenagers. In this same report they said up to 6 percent of the country is now dealing with obesity. There are probably many factors that are contributing to this growing issue.
One thing for sure is the Chinese people are passionate about their food. They always served a lot of it at every meal. Most had healthy choices including each meal had veggie options. We did notice plenty of fast food options out in the cities. McDonald’s, KFC and pizza places were popular among the young people.
I think most people assume that China is one of the healthiest nations in the world. In many parts or regions the people are healthy and live long lives. Just like everywhere else they have lost a lot of their traditional thinking and simplistic approach towards food. Although, capitalism and convenience are popular just like in America. Now this is influencing the young people of China.
I truly believe that not everything is as it seems when it comes to the subject of weight. The reasons for obesity and weight issues is not just simply more calories in verses calories burned. China has a lot of the same problems we do when it comes to food and environment. The cities are polluted and toxins are everywhere. The farms are using pesticides, antibiotics and hormones, etc. Activity may be down and stress is up. So what is the solution? Why is it for thousands of years China has held such good health and well being and now they are not? What will happen to generations to come?
The key is our children. Feeding them good healthy food right from the start. The second important thing is to know where our food comes from — the source. Do you want to eat eggs from caged chickens piled up one on top of the other, injected with hormones? Do you want to eat fresh cage-free or pasture raised eggs? One day I hope to raise my own chickens in my backyard. I can’t wait for that day to have fresh eggs and teach my child the importance of where our food comes from.
Another great idea is to start planting your own food. Whether you have a home or an apartment, you can grow a garden. I have a brick raised bed in our backyard that produces quite a bit of produce. We grow lettuce, spinach, kale, onions, carrots, beets and broccoli. I also have a compost tumbler that is my prize possession in my backyard. If you have a small space you can grow lettuce, tomatoes, herbs and strawberries in pots. It is so great to do with kids and they love to participate in the progress. I even heard at one time Ahwatukee is starting a community garden. That would be so much fun to take your children to and participate in the activities of gardening.
The last great idea to get your kids to start eating healthy is to prepare meals, smoothies and juices with them. We have juice machine and kids love it. I used to nanny a young boy who was a picky eater at home. He probably ate more junk than good. When he would come to our home he would eat really well and this confused his mother. He would beg me to take out the juicer and make veggie juice. His favorite was organic carrot, celery, parsley, spinach, apple and lemon. Not only did he like the flavor of the juice — he loved how it made him feel. We did the same thing with making smoothies, cooking healthy recipes and baking.
You can make some simple changes to feed your children great healthy food. Do this not because your scared of an obesity or behavior issue. Do it with the intention that you want those cells in their body to be vibrant and for them to have a good start. Children are resilient and can start over even today. It is worth all the effort and every penny you invest into their good health and nutrition. You may see the results immediately or down the line. Take a chance or challenge and see how this may change you and your children’s lives.
• Dawn Krueger-Sherin is an oriental medical practitioner in Ahwatukee Foothills. For questions, reach her at www.acupointehealing.com.