Attitudes About Food

“But that’s the way I have eaten my whole life. I am not going to change it now.”

“Man, if everything’s bad for you, at least I am going to enjoy what I’m eating. You have to die from something.”

“Well, you can keep your rabbit food. I need meat.”

Do any of the above statements sound familiar? They do to me. I hear these kinds of comments from patients and acquaintances all of the time concerning their dietary choices. Sometimes, just knowing exactly what to eat and in what quantities is not that easy. The epidemic of overweight and obesity in America stands testament to the fact that people here have lost their connection to the basic ideas of nutrition that were part of the cultural inheritance of pre-modern times. People seem to be eating unconsciously and accepting the negative effects of those choices as inevitable. A new study coming out in JAMA tomorrow (August 15, 2007) discusses the strong link between Western diets – those filled with red and processed meats, refined grains, fats, and sugars – and colon cancer (1). What we are consuming as a society is making us sick and killing us, and it’s time we did something about it.

I do ask about patients’ diets during the initial appointment and from time to time in subsequent sessions, but I generally do not give nutritional advice unless asked specifically. If I am asked, I try to avoid making lists for them of what they should not eat. Rather, I suggest rough guidelines such as staying away from processed foods and unhealthy meats, and increasing their intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, and flesh foods like high-quality fish or poultry. I believe that people should have a certain amount of pleasure and joy associated with the foods they choose, and strict rules can sometimes build resentment and render enjoyment impossible. In general, each patient can develop a mindset that utilizes prudence and moderation in the vast majority of their dietary choices.

(1). Meyerhardt, J.A. Journal of the American Medical Association, Aug. 15, 2007; vol 298: pp 754-764.


Kerri Winston, Ph.D., L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in Atlanta, Georgia's Buckhead area. If you are interested in learning more about how acupuncture can help you or your loved ones, please call 404-949-0550 or send email to