The Yin and Yang of Dieting

by Romana Greene
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While doctors and nutritionists have always recommended a balanced diet, so too has ancient Chinese medicine. Yet how we interpret the term balanced diet can be very different. To the western world, a balanced diet means everything in moderation, not too much fat, not too much sugar, etc. For the Chinese they too mean having things in moderation but they also mean the balance that your body needs to be at its optimum energy. Often when talking about this Chinese medicine is talking about warming and cooling foods. That is, foods that warm or cool your body. Read on to find out why it is important for your health.

The yin and yang are very important in Chinese medicine and spirituality. It is the seeking of balance in everything in the world, even in food. The belief is that everyone’s body operates differently, some may be too warm, some too cool. The idea is that food is the ideal way to address this. While you may think this means eating hot or cold food, it does not. It is not about the temperature of the food but the impact the food has on your system. Some foods warm your body (yang) and some foods cool your body (yin).

The best foods to warm your body are peppers, chicken, beef, lamb, cinnamon tea, chai, ginger, garlic, onion, and cherries. The best foods to cool your body are greens like spinach and broccoli, watermelon, green tea, clams, crabs and tofu.  Sweet and pungent flavors have intrinsic yang qualities, while salty and sour foods have a yin quality.

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The idea behind this approach is to maintain an energetic balance in the body. Eating more of one type of food will result in a strong imbalance and lead to illness. The overall approach is a holistic one. As Western diets move towards eliminating parts of your diet, the Chinese are looking at a balance of all foods. Whether you follow the Western or Chinese path a balanced diet is seen as the best method to a healthy body and mind. Cutting out food groups too quickly or crash dieting will only hurt in the long run.

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