You’ve probably heard of Yin and Yang right?
In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang.
Yin qualities include:
Darkness, moon, feminine, shade, quiet, inward
Yang qualities include:
Light, sun, masculine, brightness, loud, outward
Night (yin) and day (yang)
Yoga exercise (yin) and boxing exercise (yang)
Yin represents the energy that is responsible for moistening and cooling bodily functions. When this energy is depleted your body begins to show signs of “heating up”. This is not a true heat such as a fever, but rather a lack of the moistening and cooling functions that are necessary to maintain a healthy balance.
Women are more yin, while men are more yang – for example yin is all of the fluids in the body for women (breast milk, menstruation, vaginal discharge/lubricant) – men don’t have this. Men do have some yin qualities, as well as women having some yang qualities.
This post is focused on yin foods, thus nourishing the body and rebalancing conditions. These can include dry skin, menopausal hot flushes, tendon and ligament tightness or flaccidity, vaginal dryness, lack of breast milk production, low libido, insomnia, feeling low, scanty menstruation, hot hands and feet, constipation, dull headaches or anxiety.
Why is your yin imbalanced? Well, lots of reasons – genetics, age, stress on the body, trauma, blood loss, excess sexual activity, recreational drug use, too many yang hot foods, poor diet and lifestyle to name a few.
Nutrition is a simple way to balance yin and yang. Yin foods are cool and expanding; Yang foods are warm and contracting. Think of a shell of iceberg lettuce (Yin), and now a chunk of beef steak (Yang), and you will instantly recognise this meaning.
Foods to nourish Yin include:
- Grains: barley, millet
- Vegetables: alfalfa sprout, artichoke, asparagus, kelp, mung bean sprout, pea, potato,seaweed,string bean, sweet potato, tomato, water chestnut, yam, zucchini
- Fruit: apple, apricot, avocado, banana, lemon, lime, mango, mulberry, pear, persimmon, pineapple, pomegranate, watermelon
- Beans: adzuki, black beans, black soya, kidney, lima, mung
- Bean Products: tofu
- Nuts and seeds: coconut milk, sesame seed, black sesame seed, walnut
- Fish: fish in general but especially clam, fresh water clam, crab, cuttlefish, oyster, octopus, sardine
- Meat: beef, duck, goose, pork, pork kidney, rabbit
- Dairy: cheese, chicken egg, cow’s milk, duck egg
- Herbs and spices: marjoram, nettle
- Oils and condiments: honey, malt,
Common supplements: Ginseng, royal jelly
Examples of every day foods that can be used to build yin, include:
- Fruit smoothies with honey and banana or a fruit salad
- Fish dishes with coconut milk
- Omelettes with cheese
- Asparagus and egg salads with sesame seeds
- Tacos made with Kidney beans and topped with a small amount of cheese
- Baked Potato stuffed with tofu with soya sauce and sesame seeds.
- Pork and apple dishes
- Miso soup with tofu and seaweed
Foods to avoid:
- Stimulating foods such as the following will only further deplete yin: caffeine, alcohol, sugar and strongly heating, pungent spices.
Note: Like yin tonifying herbs, yin building foods have a tendency to congest the digestive organs and promote stagnation if large amounts are consumed. It is therefore important to consume small quantities frequently rather than large helpings irregularly. Such as a large portion if a fish coconut curry late at night is not ideal as it will sit in your stomach, stagnate and not digest properly before bed. Thus a small portion between 5-6pm is more ideal as there is more time before you go to bed to digest it.
Also, It’s not to say that yang foods you already consume such as roast chicken, other types of fish, coffee, tea, black pepper etc are to be completely avoided. Remember yin and yang balance each other out, are contrary forces that are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent of each other.
Other yin tips: meditate; eat more fresh fruit and salads; drink more water, teas and juices; wear pastel colors; wear loose, flowing clothes; stretch; get out into nature; listen to relaxing music; light candles at night.