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Chinese dietary therapy often recommends that people limit or eliminate dairy products from their diet. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, dairy is considered a cold food that leads to damp accumulation, particularly in people who have a weakness in their Spleen energy. Symptoms of dampness include lethargy, loose stools, feelings of heaviness, cloudy thinking, excess sputum(particularly in the sinuses), certain types of headaches, and accumulations such as cysts and tumors. The concern for some who want to follow this dietary advice, is whether they will be able to get adequate amounts of calcium from a dairy-free diet. This is certainly a concern as most adults require around 1,000 mg of calcium a day to maintain bone, muscular, vascular and hormonal health. There is disagreement about the exact quantities of calcium in foods, but if a person were avoiding milk, increasing the amounts of the following foods should provide enough calcium for most individuals.

Nuts and Seeds

Sesame seeds (most sources list the calcium content of 1 oz of these to contain more calcium than one 8oz glass of milk)

Sunflower seeds (also high in iron)





Sesame tahini


Beans (garbonzo, pinto, soy, canellini)

Tofu (especially calcium-treated)

Dark Leafy Greens



turnip greens

dandelion greens

mustard greens



chicory (curly endive)



Bok Choy

Acorn squash


Figs, dried

Orange juice, calcium-fortified



Cereal (calcium-fortified)


Brown rice


Corn tortillas

Fish and Seafood

Oysters, raw

Salmon (canned with bones)

Sardines (canned with bones)



Blackstrap Molasses (also high in iron)

Greek yogurt (although dairy, this is not considered a damp-producing food)



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Intuitive Eating

cabbage heart

I am very excited to announce that my good friend, and nutritional counselor, Minh-Hai Tran (MS, RD) will be holding an Intuitive Eating course this fall. The course will be limited to a 7 person group, so if you’re interested be sure to contact Minh-Hai right away.  

In her words:

“The best fit for this group would be the experienced dieter who has reached diet burnout and is looking for support in decreasing food worry/guilt and stress eating while still honoring health.  We will also discuss topics such as distinguishing between physical and emotional hunger and tools for managing non-hunger cravings.  There is only so much one can glean from reading the book Intuitive Eating, and I will discuss some of the nuances of this research-based approach based on my extensive training with both of the creators of the approach.  It’s not as simple as ‘Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full’!
There will be some experiential learning through mindful eating exercises.  Most of all, my hope is that group members will learn from supporting and listening to each other.  Notably, not everyone will be a fit for this group (e.g. those who are working on their recovery from anorexia or those who are still looking for the magic meal plan).
The group will be every other Monday, starting Oct. 4 for 4 sessions total, from 5:15-6:45 PM at the NutritionWorks office in northeast Seattle.  The cost is $175 and $155 for students (adults only).”

Minh-Hai can be reached at 206-729-2633 or at

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