“Human life is inseparable from food and clothing” Interview with Grace Yu
Sustainability and sustainable living do not only mean bringing a tote-bag with you for grocery shopping and saying ”no” to plastic straws. A long, healthy and balanced life is what we’d call ”sustainable” and this week we bring you an interview with Grace Yu (Yu Hsin Tzu) - Chinese Medicine Practitioner based in Hong Kong.
Talking life-choices, diet-choices and Qi - read on for your weekly dose of inspiration and maybe a push to view ”sustainable lifestyle” in a more holistic way that eliminating single-use items.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from, what is your professional background?
I am a Hong Kong registered Chinese medicine practitioner and Craniosacral therapist. Growing up in Taiwan, I lived in different cities, Taipei, Tainan, Taoyuan, etc., Each place brings me different memories. Personally, I am also interested in performing arts.
At the age of 18, I went to Beijing to study at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. I majored in bachelor and master's degrees in Chinese medicine and stayed in Beijing for eight years. I worked in different hospitals following different Chinese medicine instructors.
I went to Hong Kong for work in 2010. I found out that the climate, living habits, food and ideas in general were much different in Hong Kong than anywhere else, and those have big influence on peoples’s body and mind. It can be followed, but also based on the individual. It also reflects the macroscopic thinking, and the essence of individualized treatment of Chinese medicine. Through the experience and observation in life, I integrate them into my own treatment and hope to deepen it in the future.
2. What's important to you, and how do these values affect your professional choices?
I didn't know too much about Chinese medicine before I decided to study it. My father has interest in Chinese medicine and I was deeply influenced by him. I remember that when I was in high school, my father relieved my fatigue through foot massage. This was the first time I learned about the holographic theory of Chinese medicine. After I started working with patients in hospitals and clinics as a Chinese medicine practitioner, I learned that the patients really are our teachers. The values of life are more understood through the macroscopic thinking in Chinese medicine; things are not only and not totally what we see through our eyes . For example, when our neck is in pain, in addition to structural problems, we extend more to our living habits, and there must be some solid beliefs behind living habits. Therefore, I am more willing to explore the origin reason of the problem.
Through my work and things happening around me, I came to understand and grow more. Step by step, I can also help the people around me, which is ultimately the reason why I continue to be a practitioner. I understand that many things can be simplified through the experience and let everything happen and flow more naturally.
3. What are your thoughts on people’s general well being as well as life-and-work balance in Hong Kong?
Looking at Hong Kong from a Taiwanese’s perspective, Hong Kong's economy and the environment are very rich and convenient. Ｍedical environments and information are very developed and rapid. People from all over the world gather in this place, which also means that things are more crowed and narrow in Hong Kong. In such a busy society, the mental pressure of Hong Kong people is more serious, so physical and mental illnesses are more common. It is the imbalance of lifestyle.
Once you realize it, you will want to plan regular exercise, diet conditioning, meditaion and other daily maintenance to achieve balance between body and mind, in fact, when the body and mind can achieve a dynamic balance, no matter what kind of environment, they are able to adjust themselves.
4. What are your thoughts on average HK-diet? What do you think people could do, food and nutrition-wise to help to restore balance and elevate their personal well-being?
On average, the first meal of a Hong Kong’er is breakfast at a local tea restaurant; Instant noodles with eggs and milk tea...etc. In fact, Hong Kong’s traditional meals include a lot of meat and many strong flavors, and it’s not suitable to eat like this every day. In addition, working in Hong Kong is usually quite stressful and high-pace, which means that people tend to think about work when they eat. Not concentrating and not relaxing when having the meal, is not good for the digestive system.
Therefore, I advise everyone to take it easy and relax when eating. Balance between meat and vegetables, as well as good quality food are also very important for physical and mental health. It is recommended to stand up for 10 to 15 minutes after a meal in order to stimulate your digestion or drink some herbal tea to help enhancing metabolism. I recommend eating dinner earlier, it is recommended to prepare some lighter food to eat around six o'clock.
You can make the herbal Tea of Hawthorn 5g, Divine Comedy 3g, Atractylodes 3g, Astragalus 3g and Licorice 2g. Pour 150 ml hot water over the herbs and let it sit for 15 mins or cook the herbs in water for five mins. The tea is good for digestive system and the origin of Qi in your body.
5. Does traditional Chinese medicine talk about any general “hacks” or “dos and don’ts” to make our lives better and more balanced?
Chinese medicine talks about what should and should not be done in the classic "Yellow Emperor". For example, spring is the season of growth, and everything in the earth begins to grow and thrives. "The Yellow Emperor" says:
"Let's get up early in the morning and sleep at night, walk in the court, put your hair sown and walk slow, let Qi unfold, give without taking, growing without killing, reward without penalty.”
This is the Qi from spring and the way to keep you healthy in spring. Eat more green vegetables to raise the vitality of the liver; but at the same time, you can't let the liver Qi rise up too much, so you should also eat some sweet food to raise your spleen. This is the principle of spring health care. Everyone can follow the principle. There are many healthcare principles and wisdom in the "Yellow Emperor”. However, each individual will be subject to a different piece of advice based on pulse, physical condition at the time, rather than a standardization.
6. What's your personal battle? How do you make your everyday life healthier?
When I feel tired, I make a cup of herbal tea, I take a deep breath and let myself slow down from body to the brain. By my breath, I will return to stability and feel rooted. The most effective way for my own self-maintenance is exercise. It doesn’t have to do very intense exercise, but you can do some stretching or brisk walking to improve blood circulation. It’s an effective way to soothe and strengthen the body and mind.
7. What’s next for you? What interesting projects are you working on?
I am going to be a mother soon, which means starting to think about how to practice what I have learned in and through my life, not only as a doctor.
I focus on treating patients with infertility and gynecological diseases, and also support the new mothers. I am exploring how to use the way of the nature to improve child health (eg.: Craniosacral Therapy, Chinese medicine, etc.) In addition, human life is inseparable from food and clothing. In Chinese medicine, we emphasize food-therapy, looking into different regions, different seasons, different foods, educating people on how to combine food with herbs to cook, which leads to promoting health and well being in general.
Interview: Dr. Grace Yu (Yu Hsin Tzu )
HK Chinese medicine practitioner No. 006252
6. 你的個人電力是什麼？ 你如何讓你的日常生活更健康？
7. 你接下來要做什麼？ 你在做什麼有趣的項目？