Lent and and loosing weight in Chinese Medicine


Pancakes , Pancakes, Pancakes everywhere yesterday. I even saw a new 12 pancake challenge on facebook – wow – all that butter, milk and eggs, just for one person; not to worry though as obviously you wont be having any of those ingredients for the next 40 days and 40 nights ……. 🙂 in my experience it is unlikely that an egg or piece of buttered toast wont cross my path before easter. But it is time for me to shed a few winter pounds and cutting out “Fat Tuesday” foods isnt such a bad thing where the liver is concerned.  However dieting alone just brings extra stress and cortisol to the body, the mind becomes over focused and doesn’t see the bigger picture, so understanding the body and an holistic approach is needed to loosing weight.


Maybe you have given something up, standards being chocolate and alcohol. The Liver loves all this and will really thank you for a period of abstinance. Far too often in our Western society we overdo things, binge drinking, 12 pancakes and even easter with its tsunami of chocolate. All of these the liver has to manage and process. It’s the organ that detoxes and metabolises what we ingest, be that food, drink, tobacco, pollution or medication. In Chinese Medicine this organ relates to the time of spring and regeneration. After a quiet winter we wake up and start to move. The evenings are brighter and the mornings earlier. Sometimes it’s difficult to jump out of bed if the Liver is overloaded so a spring clean at Lent is an opportune time to clear out the Liver and get that Gall Bladder pumping bile. Clearing out and metabolising fats that have been stored during the winter is important at this time of year. Try cutting out milk, cheese, cream and buttery spreads, replacing with coconut oil for frying or coconut milk in stews and curries. As the variety of fresh fruit and vegetables increases try more salads and raw foods at the table. Thinly slice corguettes, grate carrots and toss in lemon juice, olive oil and salt as an alternative to the hot, cooked dishes that got us through the winter.


Rather than Lent as being about abstinence and denial, see it as bringing something into your life. New food, new meals and perhaps a new flexible way of thinking. Loosing weight isnt just about cutting calories, its about improving your metabolism, your body and mind functions. Get that liver working at a stimulating pace. See Lent as a time of adding a few inches to the spring in your step or adding a few years to your length of your life.

If you want to know more I will be teaching a one Day Detox Cooking Class for the Liver

Saturday 25th March – 12-4.30 (click the link for full menu)

We will address poor liver function, gall stones, slow metabolism, frustration and anger, joint pain, high cholesterol, digestive stagnation and bloating with food.  Leave the class feeling lighter and brighter with a knowledge of how to improve flexibility and energetic flow.

or have a look at my new video:3 ways to wake up your liver




My twin boys are growing up – Yes, Yes, Yes

aaronMy twin boys are growing up, they’re becoming men, transitioning from cuddles and tantrums to spotty faces and smelly armpits.   Unfortunately this coincides with a fear of water so showers are unpopular. Nevertheless the road to hygiene and increased hormone levels is upon us.   So to celebrate and mark the occasion they have the sacrament of confirmation. In school they have prepared, on large sheets of coloured paper, their hopes and fears for the future; named the people they respect and the people they would like to become .

zephTo emphasize the men they’re becoming they need the clothes to match for the confirmaation day. Shopping is not my favorite activity especially with three children in tow. The dreaded Sunday arrives and off we go to shop. Because they are transitioning it proves a very difficult 3 hours to find clothes that fit. Boys clothes are too small but mens clothes are too big. The boys are bored and unruley, I am frustrated and cross and loose my temper on more than one occasion. Especially when Sam, the twins younger brother, puts a waste paper basket on his head in the shoe shop and pretends to be a lamp.

All very funny in hindsight and with perspective but at that emotionally charged moment, rage enducing. Finally with bags full we arrived home and all breathed a sigh of relief I began to cook dinner and reached for a glass of red wine . Ahh I thought this will relax me, then I stopped, remembering that for an easter detox I had given up alcohol. So I left it in the bottle. I couldn’t use the sour flavour of red wine to relax an uptight liver and unwind after a stressful day, I was going to have to find another way. I played a board game with the kids and we watched a film, it was ok but it didn’t release any tension, it just established a status quo so when I woke in the morning my neck and left shoulder had become stiff and painful. The yang emotion of the anger and frustration had become a solid, stuck yin in my shoulder.

flower-tree-growing-concrete-pavement-21If you have my book you might remember that the spring is the time for regrowth and creativity. We see it in all the new shoots and green pushing through. Sometimes, however the regrowth can get stuck or blocked by plant pots or rocks above. But unlike me, faced with a shopping centre and three unruley boys, the new growth remains flexible and always finds a way around the immovable object.

Flavour Season Meridians & Organs Properties Emotion Colour
Sour Spring Liver/Gall Bladder Dynamic, Flexible and Effective Anger, frustration or Creativity Green

I had tried to use the appropriate sour flavour in the alcohol to remedy and release the frustration but it’s not always good to rely on a substance for release which is precisely why I had decided to cut it out for a while to see how I managed the stress and frustration of everyday life. Not well it would seem because it has taken me almost two weeks to release the tension from the shoulder. I did yoga and stretches everyday. I grew and ate fresh sprouts and plenty of raw greens, yet it didn’t shift. In the end I needed outside help, one shiatsu, one hot stone massage, some wild woman dancing and a jacuzzi later, its finally shifted.

This has shown me how easily the passing winds of emotions can become physically lodged in our bodies. There are plenty of tools at our disposal to remedy physical conditions but I waited too long to use them. The day was full of “no, …….. don’t do that, …….stop doing that ……. Leave your brother alone …… no ….. stop ….. no…..”   I needed to bend my way around the immovable object and find some yes, yes yes. A massage? Oh yes please, a night out dancing, oh yes please, taking the family for a walk on the beach? ahh yes.

I lost perspective, let my anger take me over and to show how badly they had behaved I carried on being angery. Its not ok to for the boys to try shoes on that are way to big for them so they look like clowns, its not ok to throw shoes at each other and its not ok to get distracted by toy shops when suits and shoes are the focus but sometimes boys will be boys, I will say no, set boundaries and enforce consequences. But I don’t have to be a furious, hair pulled, put upon, screaming haridon of a mother just to prove a point.

Seeing the humourous aspect of my childrens behaviour helps and of course breathing. It’s the breath on which we can place the emotions – feel them, breathe, count to ten, get perspective and see the emotions come and go like passing clouds. They are not who you are, they don’t bring power or re-enforce who you are, they are just a way of expressing how you feel. The Liver is linked to the eyes so rather than see through the red mist of anger Im going to look from different angles and see the funny side. My kids are hilarious and they wont be kids for long. The lightness of laughter can relieve the tension of the body and the frustration of the liver. Laughter doesn’t come easy when you are tired and overworked so ask and look for the support you need. Say yes, yes, yes when it comes your way, especially if it’s a Shiatsu massage.

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Will I, Won’t I?

flirtingBefore going to Sardinia I bumped into a guy I’d had coffee with once.  There was a spark, a giggle and definite chemistry so I smiled to receive an email the next day that began …. What I had a date with her and I didn’t make love or get to know her what a fuckin idiot”……. it made me chuckle but I declined the offer of another meet up because at the moment I’m looking to fall madly, passionately and completely in love and I think he’s a dangerous man to fall in love with.  I felt good though.  So feeling sexy, vibrant and attractive, I flew for a week in the sun.  Having time to lie by the pool gave me time to think, to chew and to ponder …. Had I made the right decision, perhaps this was the love of my life passing me by?  Perhaps I was actually being fearful of falling in love, of losing control and of getting what I actually wanted. Backwards and forwards my mind went, which way shall I go, what’s the right decision? As I baked under the Sardinian sun my head was melting.  It was only when the chill of an Irish morning enveloped me as I stepped off the plane, I knew what to do.  Stop drinking!

gall bladderIn Sardinia my friends and I had shared a bottle of wine over dinner, finished the evening with Limoncello, begun the evening with a cocktail and often had a glass of red at lunch just to aid the flavours of crumbly parmesan and melting prosciutto ham.  TOO MUCH my liver was screaming.  The Liver/ Gall bladder meridians are in charge of clear vision and of deciding which way to turn.  The Gall bladder meridian runs down either side of the body helping the body make flexible choices, will I go this way or will I go that way.  A week of rich food washed down by plenty of alcohol was impairing my judgement.  I was in the problem and it was swirling around me.  I needed distance and space to see things clearly.  So I stopped drinking alcohol for a month and stimulated the Gall bladder by eating plenty of fresh spinach, watercress and rocket salad.

watercressNow I can see clearly it didn’t really matter about making the right decision.  I can see there is no right and wrong.  I made a choice and the journey continues.  I can’t mess it up, I can’t get it wrong.  My heart is open to love, I love and I am loved.

I have found that relationships are as much about timing as attraction.   So they are equal parts of a perfect universe conspiring and our own efforts at manifesting and creation.  Phew, what a relief.  When I acknowledge that my being loved doesn’t completely rely on the choices I make, I let go of the exhausting need to be in control and to make it happen.  Sometimes this space of allowing isn’t always comfortable for me, it can be mundanely dull and I find it depressingly boring so I fill my life with high excitement of trying to do too many things at once, cooking, writing books, writing blogs, teaching, sorting washing, organising, kids, homework, dancing, dating, puppies etc. I see clearly now these will not fill the insatiable need for love in my life, for that I need to be still and quiet; to have faith and allow space.

green leafHowever like an unruly child, I can feel that pesky yin yang balance bubbling up, hoping the universe places Lorcan in my path again and that this time he will be dangerous.  But at least if I keep my liver healthy with plenty of green foods, I will be able to see clearly, what I’m getting myself into

ohhhh sooo stiff

5elements3_02Much of Chinese Medicine is founded on the balance of the five elements: Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire. At the moment we are in Spring, the time of Liver/Gallbladder and the element of wood. Soon we will move into early Summer, the time of the Heart/Small Intestine and the element of fire. As you may know I’m co hosting a workshop about the relationship between Spring/Summer – Liver/Heart (see drop down menu – cooking classes) and as they say you teach what you need to learn I thought I share what I learnt last week about the relationship between the two.
Recently I have been feeling very stiff – my shoulders especially but also my back, my hips, my calves and even in my eyes. I know the tendons, ligaments and general stiffness fall under the domain of the Liver/Gall Bladder but when I asked my body what it wanted to eat to help ease the stiffness it came up blank – I didn’t want anything. Adrift in a lack of desire, I wanted nothing in particular and wasn’t fussed if I didn’t get it. I have always used my love of food to guide me,

IMG_1634so I was confused, (liver domain), and asked my body again what it wanted, it showed me a picture in my mind’s eye of me painting, drawing, sitting on the beach and sketching. Well that sounded easy enough – a morning to myself, just a couple of hours to get my paints out and fool around. But I just couldn’t find the time and my body got stiffer.  With the launch of the book there were too many jobs that had to be done, too many dominoes that had to line up so that everything would manifest gracefully. From the outside it probably seems like the process of publishing a book is very creative but in reality I was locked into my familiar love affair with to do lists. Following the launch much of life has become fulfilling orders, organising publicity and sorting out paypal buttons.

IMG_1633The computer being in the same room as my paints was creating a physical block, it’s much easier to stay superficial and check emails than to sink inside and paint what comes through. That requires commitment, so I made a date, got a babysitter and took myself out to a life drawing class. I haven’t drawn a life model for about fifteen years so it took me a while to get my flow but I loved it and time flew.
On the drive home everything looked so beautiful. People and cars in the city centre moved like dancers in a ballet. The trees on the skyline made stunning shapes and the air seemed so soft around my skin. Then it dawned, my lack of desire and stiffness was there because I hadn’t been supporting my liver. I was stuck in a frustrating cycle of to do jobs with very little space for creative expression. As soon as I tended to that need, the wood energy of Liver then supported the fire energy of my Heart which is responsible for connection to the heavenly beautiful, unexplainable world. Over the next few days my stiffness dissipated and my chest relaxed and expanded with heart opening joy. I began to desire food once more. Strangely enough the food my body asked for were all liver foods. I wanted big dark green leafy salads with plenty of gherkins – the chlorophyll from the green stimulated the gall bladder to produce bile which helps break down any fats that maybe clogging up my bodies energy and the gherkins sour flavour stimulates the liver to rid itself of any toxins held in the blood and thereby increasing circulation to the heart. So now I’m liver flowing and free, happy to be heart feeling I’m useful and creatively contributing to the world.

Anger and frustration are the emotion of the liver and my frustrations with Paypal buttons and the internet seem disproportionate and daily 🙂  So I’m glad to be hosting the Spring Into Summer workshop, where I can really immerse in detoxing and stretching the liver, practice happy heart exercises and of course now that the book is launched create a whole new vision board child
Cost: early bird until 22 April €245,thereafter €275

Includes food, accommodation & tuition

For more info joannefaulkner@live.ie    086 607 0432