The Ch'ang Ming diet is based on eating natural, organic, locally grown foods. As everything is nature has an intricate balance of yin and yang, this is also the case with food and drink. Some food is more yin (e.g. fruit) whereas other food is more yang (e.g. spice). Therefore, as the proverb ‘you are what you eat’ suggests, it is important to be aware of what you eat and drink, because this will have a direct impact on your body, mind and spirit. There are seven simple rules to this diet, which should give your digestive system a helping hand. These are as follows:

1) Eat only when you are hungry, not just out of habit.
2) Eat only natural foods.
3) Eat more grains and vegetables.
4) Chew every mouthful of food really well.
5) Don't overeat at any time.
6) Keep your liquid intake down.
7) Take deep breaths whenever you get the opportunity.

Chee Soo’s book ‘The Tao of Long Life: The Chinese Art of Ch’ang Ming’ (which is currently being reprinted), outlines the dietary suggestions made by Chan Kam Lee, who applied Taoist diet to foods and drinks which tend to be consumed in the West. These suggestions included foods which should and should not be eaten, and those that can be consumed in moderation. As more people are becoming aware of their diets, it is now much easier to buy organic and soya-based foods. The dietary suggestions are as follows:

Foods which should be eaten
• Anything made of natural whole grains: brown rice, buckwheat, wheat, barley, millet, rye, maize, including bread, cakes, puddings, biscuits and cereals.
• Locally grown, seasonal vegetables, especially root vegetables (excluding those mentioned below).
• Wild vegetables and herbs.
• Locally grown fruits (moderately).
• Dried fruits, e.g. cherries, raisins and sultanas.
• Soya bean and mung bean shoots.
• Seaweed.
• Nuts, preferably roasted but not salted.
• Low fat natural yoghurt (soya natural yoghurt is even better).
• Honey (sparingly).
• Herb teas and China teas.
• Grain milks, rice milk, soya milk and coconut milk.
• Home made fruit drinks from local produce.
• Vegetable margarine and oils (e.g. unhydrogenated sesame and sunflower oil).
• Scrambled eggs or omelettes, or better still just the yolks.
• Natural sea salt, sesame seed salt and soya sauce.

Foods that can be eaten if necessary
• Prawns and shrimps (but not crabs).
• Low fat white fish.
• Wild bird, e.g. pheasant and pigeon.
• Free range chicken and turkey.
• Cottage or vegetarian cheese and skimmed milk.

Foods that should not be eaten
• Refined and processed foods. If it contains any colourings, preservatives, flavourings or other chemicals DON'T EAT IT!
• Any grain foods that have been processed such as white bread and anything made from white flour.
• All deep-fried foods.
• Coffee, alcohol, tobacco, chocolate and other sweets.
• Spices, rock salt, mustard, pepper, vinegar, pickles and curry.
• Red meat such as beef, pork and lamb.
• Red fish such as salmon, mackerel, shark, tuna, swordfish and whale.
• Sugar (especially refined white sugar).
• Ice cream, artificial jellies and synthetic fruit juices.
• Potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, rhubarb and spinach.
• Concentrated meat extracts, soups and gravies.
• Lard or dripping that comes from animal fats.
• Any bird or fish that has a lot of fat tissue.
• Milk, cheese, butter, dairy yoghurt, boiled or fried eggs.

It is a good idea to consult your doctor before embarking on any new diet. I would also suggest that if you decide to try this diet, then do so gradually. Finally, you need liquid in your diet to flush out toxins, so only reduce your intake of fluids to a minimum once you have omitted all toxins from your diet.
Eating healthily is a very powerful medicine. I still find it amazing to see the difference in progress between T’ai Chi students that also follow the Ch’ang Ming Diet compared with those who do not. If you decide to try this diet I think you will be surprised at how quickly your health benefits, your energy levels increase and your life changes!

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