Tips for Giving Nutritional Advice

Basic knowledge of Chinese nutrition enables anyone to manage their health by choosing the right foods and developing healthy eating habits. This primarily requires a knowledge of the thermal nature of foods (see the tables at the back of this book, p. 220) to respond appropriately to seasonal changes, climate factors such as cold, dampness, and summer heat, or extreme physical or emotional strain.

However, people new to TCM, even when in good health, quickly start asking questions about their own constitution, individual food choices, different interactions, dietary habits, etc. People interested in prevention through diet can benefit from consulting a qualified TCM practitioner who can give specific advice. The confidence a practitioner can instill for the individualized application of Chinese nutrition at home makes such a consultation a worthwhile investment. Important: Nutritional therapy designed to heal illness must always be based on an informed diagnosis by a qualified TCM practitioner. Therapy must consider both the possibilities and the limitations of nutritional healing. Dietary therapy is commonly used in conjunction with other methods of Chinese medicine. Experienced TCM practitioners can also achieve excellent results by combining TCM with the diagnosis and therapy of Western medicine and naturopathy—all to the patient's advantage.

The following tips help you achieve compliance in your patients, which is so crucial to the success of dietary advice!

When prescribing a preventive diet, acknowledge your patients' individual preferences to achieve the greatest possible compliance.

In cases where a healing diet is appropriate, a patient's distinct preferences can provide valuable therapeutic clues to patterns of disharmony. A patient's constitution should be at the center of any decisions made about dietary prescriptions. Dietary recommendations always need to be adapted to the seasons and bioclimatic factors. Chinese nutrition requires more time than other treatments and thus a little patience. Let your patients know that tangible results might not be felt or seen for weeks or months, but that, once achieved, these results can last a lifetime. Inform your patients that dietary therapy is a great opportunity for developing healthy and beneficial eating habits that will keep them in good health for years to come.

Suggestions forgiving dietary advice

  • To give competent and professional dietary advice, you should have a sound knowledge of the principles of Chinese nutrition (both preventive and healing diets) and should be trained in TCM diagnosis.
  • During the initial consultation, you can assess your patient's constitution by paying attention to certain criteria and then deepen your observations by asking your patient specific questions.
  • Let your patients tell you about their eating habits, food preferences, etc.
  • Ask your patients about their digestion.
  • Communicate the results of your observations to your patients and explain in detail the diet plan that will accompany them in the following weeks.
  • Clearly mark all foods that are good for the patient with a "+," and foods that are bad for the patient with a "-";
  • Make recommendations about eating habits and food preparation (tailored to the diagnosis) during the initial consultation.
  • Provide your patient with written information. This includes:
  • An individual diet plan with a list of all foods that are appropriate for the patient;
  • General basic information about energetic principles, healthy eating habits, different cooking methods, supplementing the center burner, etc.
  • Copies of recipes for specific preparations, such as the Master Soup, congees, medicinal wines (see p. 33, 117, 160).

This makes your own work easier, takes less time, and enables patients to explore the information at their own pace at home.

  • Length of initial consultation: between 20 and 100 minutes.
  • Arrange a second appointment three to six weeks later.
  • Possible follow-up questions can be answered over the phone (have a phone consultation schedule).
  • During the second consultation, answer any questions and clear up any uncertainties. Have the patient describe any noticeable successes or results.
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