How I became one of the fattest men in China can perhaps be attributed to the baozi in Tianjin.
And it was not just baozi from Tianjin, but baozi from Jiangxi, Shenzhen, and Henan. I became a fan of baozi and I never get tired of it.
My weight gain was dramatic and something totally unexpected as I had extensive training in Complementary and Alternative Medicine before coming to China and considered myself a health expert.
Yet I hadn’t realized how quickly truly delicious dishes can become irresistible.
So my weight went quickly from over 80 kilograms to 110 kg. I thought, wow, how big and strong I am, not really recognizing what was going on.
By the time I reached 130 kg, I still didn’t look fat, I thought stupidly. I told myself that I was a shining example of health and that my size was a symbol of success. It certainly stopped people from arguing with me or giving me cheeky looks.
Yet, by the time I hit 140kg, I knew something fishy was going on. And I had to face reality. Besides, my son had just been born, a beautiful boy.
My job as a teacher in Henan was exciting, life was good, but I was too fat. Earlier in Shenzhen, I saw a cardiologist who told me that I would die if I didn’t take western medicine beta-blocker drugs. My blood pressure was 220/110. I was on a one-way trip to super-fast death with a little boy.
By the time I moved to Henan, I had stopped eating chocolates. But there was always the Henan baozi, not as good as the appetizing Tianjin baozi, which is so delicious that I couldn’t help it. Nevertheless, Henan baozi was also good.
I became desperate. One of my students told me about a famous traditional Chinese medicine doctor I should see. I seized the opportunity.
The day I went to see this TCM doctor, I was extremely surprised to see a small, extremely humble old hospital with an old front door that needed some attention. And what really amazed me were the dozens and dozens of people at the front door of the hospital lining up to see this famous and obviously very reliable TCM doctor. She was a legend.
So I waited my turn. She quickly held my hand and took a pulse reading. I don’t know exactly how it works, but TCM doctors use it as an essential means of diagnosing patients.
In just over a minute she said I ate cold raw vegetables straight from the fridge, especially salads which not only destroyed my liver and kidneys and caused additional weight gain, but gave me fatty liver, which can be deadly by turning into liver cancer. .
I was knocked out of my chair by surprise. What she said was absolutely correct, as I had used a mostly vegan diet of raw vegetables straight from the fridge and baozis. I didn’t tell the doctor about it but she knew everything. She knew by her pulse reading of me. She was like a magician.
This wonderful doctor, who was well into his 60s but looked like he was in his early 40s, then put me on Chinese herbal medicine plus a TCM regimen of two meals a day, breakfast and lunch, and not to dine. I could do this for five days, then I would have dinner, then go without dinner for five days.
She also told me to quit all wheat and only eat rice with my vegetables. Also, I was told to have moderate portions of rice. She told me to cook my food, not eat it raw. At night, I used Chinese tea.
Within a month, my weight dropped. In the meantime, I moved to a fantastic teaching job in Wuxi, the famous city in Jiangsu province. And for the next six months, I stuck to my TCM diet, took long daily walks, and lost three pounds a week.
On top of that, I found new TCM doctors at the fantastic Wuxi Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital.
They watched me closely and guided me every step of the way by constantly checking my liver. In six months, I had fallen to only 75 kg. I had lost a whopping 65 kg. Can you imagine?
I felt good. My blood pressure was 120/80 and my fatty liver was completely gone. Western medicine at the time said that fatty liver was an incurable disease.
I had stopped all Western medications. And my son smiled a lot more.
A few years later, I started suffering from high blood pressure due to extreme stress. I lived and taught in Sichuan. The stress was the result of the grief of a dying family member.
In an earlier chapter of my life, I had done intensive academic research on complementary and alternative medicine in the Western country from which I come. One of my three master’s theses I wrote looked at a new area of medicine called mind-body medicine, where intensive meditation and diet were used to treat disease. This particular meditation technique came from India and Nepal and was introduced to the Western world in the 1960s.
This meditation technique, called stillness meditation, was invented by an Indian meditation/yoga teacher called Shivapura Baba who lived 137 years from 1826 to 1963. It sounds incredible but it’s true.
So I wrote one of my master’s theses on him and mind/body medicine, because many western complementary and alternative medicine doctors from Oceania, North America and Europe were using stillness meditation of Shivapura Baba to treat the disease since the 1960s. I became an expert in this field.
I had used this mind and body medicine meditation technique before to treat certain illnesses with incredible success. And I used it to treat my very high blood pressure caused by the grief of a dying family member. But my blood pressure did not drop even though I meditated three hours a day. I went on blood pressure pills.
Some time later, I started a new job at a university in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong. Again, one of my students told me about a TCM doctor who successfully treated many diseases. This doctor was a master acupuncturist.
I only had two acupuncture sessions with this amazing TCM doctor and my blood pressure is back to normal. I was stunned as nothing had worked and I myself was a “doctor” in mind and body medicine. So again I found myself saved by TCM.
What this taught me about China is the great truth that Chinese culture is so sophisticated, so developed and so incredibly dynamic and that TCM is a real gift to the world. Chairman Mao Zedong realized his great power early on and used it extensively for his troops. He then developed TCM for everyone in China to have access to.
My own academic research on complementary and alternative medicine is closely related to TCM. My PhD looked at how the latest advances in quantum physics verify exactly how TCM works.
And that, to me, is the magic of TCM. I firmly believe and know now that there is very solid modern science to verify all aspects of TCM. Plus, of course, this is backed up by the actual medical results of this amazing drug.
I have met traditional Chinese medicine doctors curing cancers, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and other illnesses. I saw their patients proudly tell me in person that they were cured of these diseases. I have also read many patient stories about curing all these deadly diseases with TCM.
TCM is truly a remarkable gift to the world. A gift that further reinforced my great love and devotion to China. I love China because the Chinese government has developed the best country in the world using socialism with Chinese characteristics. And TCM is part of that foundation, part of the great symbol of China.
The author is a journalist, teacher/scholar, philosopher, poet, novelist and scientist who has lived in China for nearly 20 years. He has taught at more than 15 Chinese universities and colleges as well as schools and has published numerous books of journalism, poetry, fiction and philosophy.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and the China Daily website.