Unfortunately, we are living, breathing, ever changing beings, and the only constant we can rely on is change. The same is true for our diets. You remember the first time you went on a "diet"? Was it high school or college, was it a dare, a socially driven obligation, a true desire to be healthy? Did it work for you then? Is so, it is not likely it will work for you again. Either because you chose the "eat nothing until you deteriorate-diet" and that doesn't work long term for anyone; OR you simply are not the same physiological being you were the last time a specific diet worked for you. So now what? With all the different media outlets pushing what's healthy and what's not, it's easy to get overwhelmed, confused, and simply give up!
This brings us to the importance of understanding and listening to your very own relationship with food. Regardless of what I say is good for you, or your friend, or the television, what does your body tell you? If you truly believe that a bowl of whole wheat pasta goes through your system smoothly, doesn't disrupt your digestive system, doesn't cause fatigue, doesn't make you bloated, doesn't cause sugar cravings, and doesn't make you gain weight, then by all means my friend enjoy that bowl of pasta! Not because I said so, because when you tune into your body it truly feels good eating this meal.
"Feeling good" is a very relative term. I have clients who sit down in my office and say, "I feel good, yeah I don't really have any symptoms." However, they change their diet anyway, with my suggestions, and they come back saying "I feel so amazing, I didn't even know I felt bad before!" Relative. You have to make space for your body to feel extremes in order for you to know your true balance. So let's talk about balance from the inside out, and from the outside (diet) in.
The Chinese philosophy of the yin and yang has been around for centuries. This theory of the universe was based around the idea of opposites, the division between the lighter and the heavier; the cool, dark element being yin, and the hot, light elements being yang. These same ideas can be characterized between living foods and energy systems within the body. Macronutrients are constantly undergoing buildup or breakdown, expansion or contraction, and both must be maintained for each to survive. Our metabolism is a wonderful balance of this buildup and breakdown that allows our bodies to stay stable; when our bodies sway more heavily to one side we may feel sickness or feel like our balance has been disrupted.
The laws of opposition related to foods are as follows:
1. Quality vs. Quantity. Though we may feel a need to reward ourselves with a dessert after a well balanced meal, we do not need a poor quality food to out weigh our good quality food choices.
2. Expansion vs. Contraction. Expansive and contractive foods depend on flavor, growth direction, growth speed, original climate, and moisture content. The expansive foods will be higher in all of the listed factors, while the contractive foods will be lower. Expansive is not better than contractive; we need both.
Drugs-Alcohol-Fruit juices-Vegetable juices-Tea/Coffee-Sugar-Roots-Nuts-Beans-Grains-Fish-Eggs-Salt
3. Acid vs. Alkaline. Our bodies like to remain at a pH level of 7.4 meaning there is a slight alkalinity to our blood. In order for us to void off infection, disease and other unwanted illnesses we have to maintain this balance through the foods we consume. Here is a brief summary of the acid and alkaline foods:
pH1 pH7 pH12
Alcohol-Sugar-Fats-White flour-Legumes-Fish-Eggs-WATER-Milk-Tofu-Yogurt- Coffee-Fruits-Veggies-Salt
4. Warming vs. Cooling. Recognizing that temperature has an impact on our foods ability to heal us is very traditional. One of the main properties of food according to Ayurvedic medicine is its ability to warm or cool the body.
Cooked or dried fruits
Our bodies treat nutrients in specific ways once they enter the body and if outside sources change the structure of a food before it enters the body we no longer reap the same benefits from it. “We are what we eat”- and preparation of our food has a direct impact on the way our body metabolizes the nutrient. For example…
- In most cases heating a food makes the cellulose and fibers more available to our digestion methods. We obviously can better digest meat proteins, rice, and beans better if they are in cooked form. Even though some nutrients may appear to be lost, cooking some foods makes our digestive system better equip to handle the food. If we can’t absorb the nutrients there is little purpose in eating the food.
- Fermentation is a process done to food by letting microorganisms like yeast and bacteria breakdown the nutrients in the food. Most commonly this is done to dairy products, bear, wine, and bread in the Western cultures; but also miso, tofu, tempeh, black beans, and even fish in Eastern cultures. Fermentation aids in digestion of certain amino acids found in the food and can increase nutritional richness.
This is why it's important to make your own food from scratch in your own kitchen OR let the Honest Market kitchen do the work for you! I have the great privilege of being the nutritionist for this amazing company, as we value not just the art of cooking and flavor in our meals, but the quality of preparation, and the quality of food sources that will help to balance your body and create optimal wellness. It can be a life changing event to prepare all your meals from scratch if you've never done it before. Having a few meals ready to go via Honest Market is a great way to ease yourself into fresh home prepared meals, I highly recommend giving it a shot!
Every imbalance you suffer has a cause, likely present in the above yin/yang categories. To heal the problem we must use another category to create balance. Some of the conditions that can be treated include; headaches, fevers, common colds, coughs, sore throat, earaches, skin problems, digestive problems, constipation, inflammation, eating disorders, and female disorders. You should seek a professional when prescribing home remedies.