If you've ever embraced a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter day or feasted on bland foods such as plain cooked rice while ill with the flu, you've engaged in the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) concept of yin-yang eating. TCM views foods as being either yin or yang based on whether they calm and cool your system or stimulate and warm your body. Spicy foods, including garlic, onion and peppers, are considered yang because of their sharp flavor; bananas, oysters, cucumbers and other flatter-tasting foods are considered yin.
"We need balance, and TCM espouses that eating foods that are opposite our body's natural disposition is the key to achieving it," says Henry C. Lu, MD, founder of the International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia. While everyone is a combination of yin and yang forces, one is usually predominant. Take this quiz to find out whether you're generally cool as a cucumber or hot as a jalapeno. Circle all that apply to you:
- Cold hands and feet
- Feel hot and perspire a lot
- Small and slender
- Larger, muscular body
- Pale complexion
- Flushed or ruddy complexion
- Light eater
- Hearty appetite
- Prone to colds and deficiency diseases (i.e. anemia, underweight)
- Prone to diseases of excess (i.e. hypertension, heartburn)
Consume a few spicy foods to rev up your system.
Try gentle foods to calm your nature.
Photography by: Jeff Padrick