When it comes to nutrition, it’s clear that the Western view is very different from the traditional Chinese medicine. However, there’s consistency in the idea that health and diet go hand in hand. The food we eat has a tremendous impact on our physical and mental health. By eating the right food, we can help strengthen the immune system and fight off disease.

That said, the key to living a healthier lifestyle lies in paying more attention to the foods that we put on our plate.

As people are becoming more health-conscious, there’s an increase in the consumption of organic and whole foods in the Western world. There are also more people turning to the traditional Chinese medicine approach to food and diet.

In this article, I will be talking about the Yin Yang diet and Yin Yang food which are linked to the ancient Yin Yang philosophy.

What is Yin-Yang Philosophy?

The concept of Yin and Yang states that everything in the universe is governed by opposing but complementary cosmic energies – Yin and Yang. Everything that is Yin necessarily has a corresponding Yang, such as the moon and the sun, night and day, female and male, hot and cold, and so on. These forces are not static or mutually exclusive. They can coexist and even complement each other. For instance as in the alternation of day and night – there cannot be shadow without light. 

Yang energy is linked to things that are strong, masculine, warm and bright, whilst Yin is associated with feminine, soft, cool and dark.

How is Yin-Yang Philosophy linked to Yin-Yang diet?

According to the traditional Chinese medicine, food is energy and some foods are more Yin, while others are more Yang.

Yin foods are those that generate cold or cool energy in the body.

Yang foods generate warm, hot energy.

A healthy diet should be able to balance Yin and Yang energy in the body. A deficiency or excess of Yin or Yang can lead to physical and mental imbalances.

What is the Yin and Yang diet?

Whilst the Western diet focuses on the chemical composition of foods, the Yin Yang diet focuses on the energy of the foods.

For instance, the Western diet categorizes food nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, and fat, then groups foods accordingly, with a one-size-fits-all serving recommendation.

The Yin Yang diet is based on the belief that all foods carry their own energy which can have therapeutic benefits for the body, and the lines between an edible item’s nutritional and medicinal properties are often blurred.

Instead of focusing on the nutritional value of food, the Yin Yang diet refers to four different food natures – hot, warm, cool and cold. The hot or cool nature of food does not refer to the temperature of the food but to the type of energy that it generates within the body after consumption.

As an example, green tea may be a hot drink, but after consumption, it cools the body, so it is considered a cool beverage (Yin food).

In the Yin Yang diet, the key to optimal health lies in achieving an equilibrium between different energies within the body by eating a balanced diet of both Yin (cooling) and Yang (warming) foods.

The Yin Yang diet is also tailored according to the weather. For instance, during winter, having more warming foods to build up the yang energy in the body, is recommended.

The way food is prepared is also important as it will affect food’s energy. For example, tomatoes are commonly considered as a Yin ‘cooling’ food if eaten raw. But if you cook them, you increase its Yang energy.

In addition, different cooking methods also have Yin and Yang associations. Frying and roasting are considered Yang, whereas boiling and steaming are considered Yin.

The Yin Yang meal

The Yin-Yang meal is designed around the concept of balance. The plate should be balanced in terms of flavour (sweet, salty, sour, spicy and bitter), texture and cooking styles. Colours are important too, for instance, red meat should come with green vegetables (a contrasting colour).

Dry dishes, such as a spicy stir-fry, should also be complemented by a soup. The key again is achieving that energy balance.

The Yin and Yang food

What Are Yin Foods?

Foods with Yin energy are considered expansive, light, cold, and diffuse. They have a cooling effect on the body, therefore they are also known as ‘cold’ foods. See below examples of Yin foods.

List of Yin foods:

  • White processed bread
  • Potatoes
  • Sugar
  • Coffee
  • Cashews
  • Butter
  • Soybean sprouts
  • Tofu
  • Certain types of fruit, such as watermelon, grapefruit, apples, pears, peaches, strawberries
  • Spices
  • Tomatoes
  • Honey
  • Leafy greens

What Are Yang Foods?

Foods with yang qualities are considered compact, dense, heavy, and hot. They have warming effect on the body, therefore Yang foods are also known as ‘hot’ foods.

List of Yang foods:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Mussels
  • Salt
  • Poultry
  • Miso
  • Hard cheese
  • Garlic

Yin and Yang imbalance

Every body is different and health can be influenced by many factors such as diet, fatigue, anxiety and stress levels. Therefore, different foods can affect people in different ways. Some people tend to have more Yin/cool-leaning systems, while others have the opposite.

You might have a Yang imbalance if you suffer from:

  • High levels of discomfort in hot weather
  • Short temper, impatience or irritability
  • Constipation
  • Rashes
  • Pimples and acne
  • Nose bleeds
  • Dark urine

You might have a Yin imbalance if you suffer from:

  • High levels of discomfort in cold weather
  • Body stiffness, or often feel quiet and withdrawn
  • Diarrhoea
  • Pale complexion
  • Runny nose
  • Too clear urine

Of course, this is an overly simplistic approach and there are many other conditions that can cause these symptoms.

It’s common to find imbalances in the body, that’s why it’s important to consult an experienced Chinese medicine practitioner to have a proper assessment of your body type and condition in order to obtain the right advice on the appropriate foods and food combinations for your body type.

If you are interested in nutrition and trying to improve your health, make sure you also learn about high vibration foods.

Love and light x