Find balance with food
Yin and yang food to find peace in body and mind
In traditional Chinese medicine, every food has energy, and the food you eat gives energy to your body. Yin food is more cooling and often raw (expanding), whereas yang food is hot and spicy (contracting). The hot climate is yang and the cold winter time is yin. Now, you probably understand that we crave more hot and spicy yang food in winter to be in balance with the yin season, and that it is easier to eat raw food in the summer when the season is yang. So, by nature, we are designed to find balance, and the more you are connected with your body, the more you understand what you need.
When we don’t find balance naturally or consciously, the body will find it on its own and becomes reactive
For example, a heart attack can be seen as a way for your body to find balance; to put you on rest; to give you a break. The body can only take a certain amount of stress, and if we do not understand or do not listen to our body’s warning signs, nature will find its own way.
Food plays an important role in our health and balance. That’s why it is so important to take a look at the way you nurture your body and mind and if there is room for improvement to get rid of imbalances. An easy tool you can use to understand your connection to food is a food- mood journal. Here, you take awareness and write down everything that you eat while observing your body’s reactions, your mood, your level of tiredness, etc. Get your food mood journal worksheet.
If you already have a daily yoga practice in your life, you might feel a difference in your asanas when you change your food habits.
You might become more flexible or more focused.
As soon as you become more aware of your food-mood connection, you can better understand what your body needs in different seasons. In the winter time, we usually need more hot/warm food like soups and steamed vegetables. In the summer, it is easier to sustain with raw food, salads, and fruits. We often are less hungry in the summer, but need more water.
Because of your unique genetics, the environment you live in, your blood type, and your body’s specific demand for nutrients and calories (Are you moving a lot or sitting all day in front of a computer?), everyone is different and has different needs. This is the definition of bio-individuality. It is also the reason that no one diet can work for everybody in the same way. Learn to listen to your body and to find your unique needs.
Like they say: You are what you eat!
Lets have a look at some food groups:
YIN: RELAXING food
medication/drugs alcohol/caffeine, sugar
dairy: milk/cream/yogurt oil, white flour, fruit, nuts, leafy green vegetables, sea vegetables
YANG: CONTRACTING food
root vegetables, grains beans, fish, chicken hard cheese, red meat, miso and tamari, eggs, salt
For the majority of the population, yang food is found in higher percentages on our plates (the more processed the food, the more yang properties) than yin food. For many, eggs, meat, and cheese is eaten in bigger portions than anything else.
However, if you have too much yang food, your body is contracting muscles, gets stiff, migraines and headaches might appear more often, high blood pressure can result from being out of balance, sleeplessness, digestive problems, and contracted muscles can pull on joints, causing you back pain. The reason for this is obvious. Yang is often salty, processed food and high in sodium, which contracts muscles and cells. That’s why you feel an imbalance. When you are out of balance, your body will show you through illness, pain, and bad moods. Instead of reaching for a quick and short term solution, it is important to find balancing long-term solutions for your health and happiness.
Again, finding balance on your plate is the goal. Figure 1 shows a very simple module—if you stay around the middle line, you should find balance with root vegetables, beans, grains, green vegetables, and fruits.
Keep in mind that our bodies are also made through the food we eat. Our cells reproduce themselves over our lifetime with the nutrients you feed your body. Food is fuel for your body and mind. When your cells replace or renew, they will be made out of the food that you have put into your body, so how you nurture yourself is important for your cells.
The energy in your food depends on where the food comes from, the energy properties in the area where the food was grown and harvested. By understanding the energies around your meals, you can make the right choices to get the energy you are seeking for your life. Food is not just nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, it is energy.
Vegetables have lighter energy than proteins. The meat from a tortured animal has, of course, a different energy than meat sourced from a more peaceful existence. If you look back to the chart of yin and yang food, you can see that if you eat mostly yang food, it will put your body in yang energy—your body and your energy will be contracting and stressed. As nature is looking for balance, while eating lots of yang food, your body will attract yin food in order to feel relaxed. For example, with a heavy meal of meat and eggs, you may crave alcohol and sugar to help you balance. This is why people crave a glass of wine or a beer after a long, hard day at work, as it is just natural that your body is looking for something relaxing after a stressed day in the office. Now you might say, “Well, that’s great if I’m just finding my balance when I need a glass of alcohol!” You can guess, though, that it is not like this. A better way would be to eat a more balanced diet, to begin with.
As you see, food is a major factor that contributes to balance or imbalance in your life.
Signs of imbalance related to food include:
- sleeping problems, insomnia
- anxiety, fear, depression
- headaches, migraines
- bloat, constipation
- digestive problems
- food cravings
- inability to lose weight
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- skin problems
- libido problems
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- silent inflammation
By finding out which food is good or bad for you, you get the chance to get rid of imbalances like digestion and sleep problems. Otherwise, these imbalances can lead to more stress and more imbalances in your life.
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