Eating consciously and having an awareness of and appreciation for our food is a very important step towards achieving balance and wellness. Making the best food choices by paying attention to what we are consuming, and noticing how it affects us, is crucial for health and longevity.
Nutrition, in the form of good quality food, combined with good digestion and exercise, nourishes us on every level. It helps balance our emotions, and directly affects how we think and feel.
|GOOD QUALITY FOOD
Locally grown fruit and vegetables
Medication-free, pasture-fed animal protein
Unprocessed, unrefined whole foods
Unpasteurized, organic dairy
Fresh, enzyme rich
|POOR QUALITY FOOD
Aged, old, or rotting food
Hormone, antibiotic and grain-fed animal protein
Irradiated food, Genetically Modified
Chemically processed, refined sugar
Food raised in unethical conditions
According to Ancient Ayurvedic principles, a poor quality diet promotes disease by allowing low-level thinking, destructive thoughts and behaviour. This is referred to as Tamas. When we eat Tamasic food, it makes it difficult to be anything other than Tamasic. It is believed, when we are mindful of what we are eating, we will benefit by staying well with a clear mind that supports high-level thinking.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognizes food as having YIN and YANG qualities that have a direct effect on our bodies when consumed. Yin and yang describe all phenomena. They are polar opposite, yet interact with one another. Nothing is purely yin or yang, and if either one predominates the other will consume it.
The appropriate balance between yin and yang foods is desired, depending upon the constitution of a person’s body. If one is Yin deficient, as could be the case with a person having diabetes, hypoglycemia, anxiety, stress, insomnia, or hot flashes, they would want to build their yin by consuming good quality animal foods, dairy, whole grains, quality fats, cod liver oil, chlorella, and spirulina.
If someone is Yang deficient, they may exhibit symptoms of cold hands and feet, a cold body, abdominal bloating, fatigue, and low sex drive. Suggestions to combat this deficiency would be to build the yang while supporting the yin and a diet emphasizing cooked foods, using warming spices, such as ginger, cloves, and cinnamon, and limiting fruit and salads would be recommended.
Yin and Yang Food Characteristics:
Salty, Bitter, Sour
Descending Energetic Qualities
Ascending Energetic Qualities
It is interesting to note how our culture has become so disconnected from food, its value and its effect on us- physically, emotionally and spiritually. Food has valuable, life-giving, energetic qualities that nourish us. Understanding Ayurvedic principles or having knowledge of yin and yang is helpful to finding balance, but not necessary. Being conscious of what we eat and how it affects us, individually and collectively, is necessary.
As a suggestion, for your next meal, pay attention to how your food feels in your mouth- is it sweet, sour, bitter, or pungent? Notice its qualities and texture- is it warm or cold, dry or moist? These are clues to how it will behave and react in your system. Also, notice how your meal makes you feel a few hours later- energized or lethargic, anxious or calm, hot or cold?
Most importantly, before eating your meal, be sure to express gratitude for it. Especially when you are in doubt of its quality, acknowledging its value and giving thanks will optimize its nutritional value so you may receive all of its gifts- if you are willing. Namaste.
~by Nancy Hall, R.H.N., Level X