Review: Live in the Balance by Linda Prout, M.S.

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  I started reading this book by Linda Prout shortly after the new year. As some of you know, I have the habit of reading 2 or 3 books at the same time. For the first couple of weeks, this book shared time with Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words and a couple of other books. Eventually Live in the Balance took center stage, capturing my full attention.

It is a book chock-full of information, with every sentence seeming to contain a new nutritional idea or fact. Did you know that foods of animal origin, not fruits and vegetables are the main source of pesticides in our diet? When you think about that, it makes perfect sense. I learned that in China, the word for rice is the same as the word for food. On page 170, you will learn all you will ever need to know about margarine and why you should never substitute it for butter. I have always been suspicious of “foods” like margarine and do not use them. Now I am glad to know many of my common sense food decisions have a strong basis in nutritional fact.

The Introduction and Part One do a remarkable job of laying the foundation for what is to follow. Before reading this book, my understanding of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the role of food and nutrition in TCM was limited to what I had read in the popular media. I did know that TCM viewed food as being the source of both good, and bad, health. But by the time I got to page 60 of Live in the Balance, I definitely had furthered my education in the fundamentals of TCM and, even though the two are beginning to meld, how it differs from the Western approach to wellness. In fact, after finishing the book, I went back and read part of this first section again, this time with the added advantage of having had the author guide me through the applications in the rest of the book.

Even though Part Two, “Balancing Who You Are With What You Eat” was interesting and informative, I found myself getting a bit distracted as I read. I suspect this was because the focus of that section is identifying patterns of imbalance you might have and listing foods that will help you fix these imbalances. No matter how closely I read, or how honestly I thought about it, I could not fit myself into one of the patterns of imbalance or even into one or the other of Yin or Yang. Just when I would be thinking I was tending towards Yang, I would come across something that made me think I had Yin tendencies. It became even more difficult when I tried to identify with one of the patterns of imbalance that TCM uses nutrition to help. In fact, even when telling myself to be brutally judgmental, I could only find a passing recognition with 1 or 2 signs of each pattern. By the end of Part Two, I had concluded that this was probably a good thing.

Part Three starts making specific recommendations to even out any patterns of imbalance you might have. This section is where I realized I was already following most of the author’s suggestions; hence my difficulty in the book’s Part Two, trying to fit myself into a pattern of imbalance. Still, it was very educational to read and consider proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and sugars from the TCM point of view. The section on fruits and vegetables did hit close to home. I tend to eat a lot of raw fruits, vegetables and salads. I realized after reading chapter 14 that I could and probably should incorporate more cooked greens and vegetables into my diet.

One specific enlightenment I got from the book was support for a dietary change I made years ago that has always puzzled me. For 12 or 13 years the first and only thing I would eat every day was fresh fruit, usually lots of it. Eventually I developed a sort of intolerance or allergy to fruit. Only after almost eliminating fruit from my diet for a period of time, did my tolerance return to normal. I now realize that even something as healthy as fresh fruit can put the body out of whack if not consumed with moderation and in balance with other types of food.

When I was done I really felt that if I had any health issues at all, I could probably find a recommendation in this book that would help. I also felt good knowing that the reason I am feel so well at this point in my life is that I already follow many of the suggestions and recommendations in the book. The well known saying “you are what you eat” never seemed as true as it does now after reading this book.

In summary, this is a book that anyone with even a passing interest in diet and nutrition will find enjoyable and educational. It is a must read if you have any health or medical issues or if you are at all frustrated with your current eating patterns. Amazon has it both new and used. If you do buy it, or anything else, from Amazon, please consider using this link, or the one on my How To Help This Site page. I will be very appreciative because the small referral fee Amazon pays will help to offset the cost of hosting and maintaining this site. Thanks!



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Will Sig
1 Linda Prout

My sense is your constitution IS well balanced, Will. Generally when my readers remark that they have just one or two signs of each pattern, it indicates healthy balance. Other things about you confirm this:

Your posts show you are able to digest a wide range of information and present topics in a balanced way. You get in there and learn all you can before writing. On top of that you manage to have time to read 2-3 books at a time, work on new projects, help your community and others, spend time with family, play hockey, ski, garden…. this is a sign of really good Qi, and good digestion. Your comments show compassion, insight, and patience, qualities that speak to inner balance. Of course, caring about the planet goes hand-in-hand with caring about your own health.

In your post about green tea you say you drink a cup of green tea when you feel like it, you drink a cup of coffee when you feel like it, and you avoid soda. This is inner wisdom, your best guide to health. Some people might gag down 7-8 cups of green tea after reading about its health benefits, never heeding their body signals this is too much.

Ironically when we read obsessively about nutrition (like I once did) we can more easily get pulled from our intuitive wisdom. The body naturally gravitates to what it needs when not forced to follow someone else’s dietary advice.

The unpleasant experience you had eating a lot of fruit illustrates this, along with the Chinese principle of dampness. Fruit may offer lots of vitamins, but from an energetic standpoint it is quite damp, something most Americans already suffer from. Reading about the healthfulness of fruit leads many people to eat it to excess and then wonder why they have bloating, weight gain and indigestion (signs of dampness).

We often mistakenly believe if something is good, a lot is better. They key is balance and that means to bite off only what you can chew (and digest).

Thanks for the insightful review and the healthy balance provided on your site.

Linda

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2 Bob

Thanks Will for another very informative post, this book actually sounds like something I would probably read and get some useful information out of. Just little interesting things like the main source of pesticides in our diet come from animals not
fruits and vegetables. We only use margarine except for baking when we use butter, should look more into that.

I definitely have more stress in my life then ever before, and don’t seem to be able to find the time or the want to exercise the way I use to, I should at least try to start eating properly.

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3 Precious Williams

Great review. I consider “Live In The Balance” to be an important, potentially life-changing book. You are quite right to call it a must-read!

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