Introduction to Yin and Yang in macrobiotic diet

“Chi’ energy, or ‘life force’ circulates freely through a healthy body, but is blocked in an unhealthy body, causing illness. Chi energy becomes blocked when one has an improper diet combined with extreme weather conditions (hot or cold). Illness occurs when someone overindulges in the wrong foods, under indulges in the right foods and eats foods which might not be good for their particular physiological environment. Foods differ in their physical, mental, spiritual and emotional effects and can be divided into three main types ; Yin , Yang and balanced. Yin foods are cooling, while Yang foods are warming to the human system. Together, they combined in balance produce an equalization that translates into health for living creatures.

Macrobiotic cooking incorporates an ever-moving relationship between the opposite but complementary energies of yin and yang. The idea is to balance energies. For example, in summer the most yang time of year, we want to balance the hot energy with light, watery, lightly cooked and raw foods. We eat more salads, fruits and select moderate foods like fish over the intensely yang foods which we eat more of in winter. As the season changes to cooler and then cold weather, the ovens come on; we prepare soups (which can have both yin and yang energies), stews and roasts, and choose more from the yang end of the spectrum. This ensures that we will stay warm.

The following list is a basic guideline to yin and yang foods. Generally speaking, we want to choose most of our foods from the middle of the list (from temperate fruits to fish). Foods from the extremes are used sparingly and carefully. Foods are in the “balanced” or recommended zone of foods to eat.

  • Yin foods: Milk, alcohol, sugar, honey, oil, fruit juices, spices, stimulants, most drugs (e.g aspirin), tropical vegetables and fruits (e.g banana, mangoes), refined food, food additives of chemical nature
  • Yang foods: Poultry, seafood, eggs, meat, salt, fish, cheese
  • Balanced foods: Seeds, nuts, vegetables, cereal grains, beans, sea vegetables, temperate fruits (i.e. apples and pears)