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Got Cravings? Consider the Yin and Yang of Your Food

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It’s 10 am, you’re at work and you’re bored. That bagel you ate for breakfast earlier just wasn’t that satisfying, and the woman in the cube next to you has a bowl of Hershey’s kisses on her desk. You walk past the chocolates a few times and eventually just grab a few. At lunchtime you grab a deli sandwich with a bag of potato chips and a brownie and eat your lunch while answering emails. A few hours later you start falling asleep at your desk. You crave sweets, and a trip to the machine for a Snickers bar will help you stay awake and end the day. By the time you get through the evening rush hour and back home, you’re feeling “road rage” and want something to eat NOW. So you pour yourself a bowl of cereal and head over to the couch to watch your favorite TV show.

If you can relate to this scenario, you are not alone. Most Americans live their lives that way — they jump from craving after craving and feel completely out of control over what they eat. However, there is an easy way to control your cravings. There is a way of eating where you are responsible for your food choices instead of feeling like the food chooses you!

People often feel bad about their desires. They see them as a sign of weakness or that their body is “out of balance”. Why else would you give in to a bag of chocolate chip cookies when you could resist them all week?

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Actually, your body is very smart. It always knows exactly what to do. For example, your heart never skips a beat. Your lungs expand and contract as needed. When you’re hot you sweat and when you’re cold you shiver. Your body knows what to do and when to do it.

So if your body is craving a certain food, there’s probably a reason for it! Your craving is a sign of an underlying imbalance. It’s a solution, not a problem. It’s your body’s way of telling you it needs something. So your job is to be something of a “food detective” – ​​to find out what the cravings are really about.

There are many reasons why your body needs something and sends you a craving. One perspective on cravings uses the concepts of “yin” and “yang.” Yin and yang simply refer to “complementary but opposite forces”. We encounter examples of yin and yang constantly in our daily lives – below and above, inside and outside, white and black, female and male, cold and hot, day and night. Things in life that are opposites and yet complement each other.

Yin and yang can also be applied to food. In this application, “yin” refers to foods that produce short-term feelings of lightness, happiness, and contentment. Yin foods cause an increase in the neurotransmitter serotonin in your brain, leading to feelings of well-being, followed by a sharp decline and feelings of weakness and emptiness. The predominant ingredient in Yin foods is white sugar. Other yin foods are white flour, white rice, alcohol, juice, caffeine, fats and oils.

At the other end of the spectrum are yang foods. Yang foods create short-term feelings of strength and increase physical and mental performance. These include salt and high-protein animal foods like red meat, eggs, and cheese. Yang foods cause increases in the neurotransmitter dopamine, causing one to feel very alert and aggressive, followed by feelings of sluggishness and bloating.

Your body is always trying to keep its balance. If you eat a lot of yin, you will seek yang. If you eat a lot of yang, you will seek yin. For example, after eating a meal rich in extreme yang foods like steak, baked potatoes with sour cream, and buttered vegetables, you may feel heavy and blocked. Maybe you’re looking for something to help you feel light and free from blockages, such as: B. a sweet dessert and coffee.

So the key to reducing cravings is to eat foods that are neither extremely yin nor extremely yang. Imagine there is a continuum of foods between the extreme yin foods and the extreme yang foods. Foods that fall in the middle of the yin-yang continuum are vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes. Fruit is also in the middle, albeit slightly yin, while fish and poultry are slightly yang.

By the way, the terms yin and yang can be used to describe the day or the mood. When someone is very yin, they sit back, relax, dream, and nap. An example of being yang is when someone gets angry at the person who just pulled into traffic in front of them. Yin and yang can explain why you might not feel like speaking in front of a group (yang) after a day in front of the TV (yin), and why at the end of a long, difficult day at work (yang) you might feel like craving after a drink (Yin)!

If you’re feeling cravings throughout the day, consider what you’re eating and where those foods fall on the yin-yang continuum. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is dominated by extreme yin and extreme yang foods like sugar, white flour, salt, and red meat. We learn to eat this way from a young age and it becomes commonplace. Eating these types of foods can leave you craving more food later without you even realizing it! Also, consider what experiences you have throughout your day and how those experiences may make you feel “yin” or “yang,” causing you to crave certain foods. By being careful and eating foods mostly in the middle of the yin-yang continuum, you CAN control your cravings once and for all!

Thanks to Julia Kalish

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