Cravings are something that most people have experienced or struggled with at some time in their life. There are many theories about the reason for cravings, particularly food cravings. When thinking about cravings, I wondered about the concept of yin yang and whether or not there is a connection between this concept and cravings.
The philosophy of yin and yang is a part of the Chinese culture and ancient Chinese medicine. In our modern world today yin and yang is the basis of the Japanese Macrobiotic lifestyle. So what does this ancient philosophy tell us about cravings? The whole yin yang philosophy is a very complex subject. So let’s start by taking a very brief look into what the philosophy or the concept is generally about.
Yin and Yang – a concept of how the world stays in balance!
- It consists of pairs, such as the moon and sun, cold and hot, female and male, dark and light, passive and active, up and down
- It is all about the importance of balance between yin and yang. If one is strong, the other will be weak.
- It is important to note that there is no absolute yin or absolute yang. It is about energy shifting between yin and yang. Yin can (and most often does) contain a component of yang, and yang can (and often does) contain a component of yin.
Yin and yang are part of a universal concept that encompasses opposite or contrary forces, which are actually complementary. They rely on each other – in fact, they cannot exist without each other. Yin and yang are two halves that form a whole and they are a part of nature. Yin yang is believed to exist in everything and they are equal qualities that transform each other.
The yin yang philosophy also applies to good health because it speaks of the balance of the yin and yang qualities within a person. If yin and yang are not balanced, one of the qualities is thought to be deficient or lacking. So if a person has a health issue, according to the yin yang concept there is an imbalance of either the yin or the yang which could be affecting or causing the health issue.
- Is the shady side or the north slope, the black side of the symbol that contains a white dot.
- Expansive qualities
- Represents the feminine, passive, or negative side of things; hidden or covert
- Is characterized by slow, soft, yielding, cold, wet, and passive
- Is associated with water, earth, the moon, nighttime, and femininity
- Certain foods elevate your energy, giving you a feeling of ‘up’, including sugar, alcohol, coffee and drugs.
- Is the sunny side or the south slope; the white side of the symbol that contains a black dot.
- Contractive qualities
- Represents the positive, active, or masculine nature of things; open or overt
- Is characterized by fast, hard, solid, aggressive, focused, hot and dry.
- Is associated with fire, the sky, sun, daytime, and masculinity
- Certain foods make you feel more grounded or down, including animal foods, root vegetables, hot cooked meals (the longer food is cooked = more grounded).
How does this relate to cravings?
When considering the yin yang principle of opposites forming perfect balance, cravings take on a whole new meaning. This principle tells us that we have cravings because our body is trying to create a state of homeostasis or balance. Most people are not consciously aware that the body is trying to create balance. The body is incredibly intelligent – it doesn’t make a mistake! Consider the fact that your heart beats regularly to pump the blood throughout your body without conscious effort, and your lungs work automatically without you thinking about breathing.
According to Joshua Rosenthal, Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, as our society increases in yang energy and as we, as individuals, increase our own yang energy by eating more animal products, more cooked food and becoming more materialistic our craving for yin energy increases in order to maintain balance. This could be one reason why many people experience a craving for sugar, alcohol or even drugs, which can give us a spiritual high without actually being spiritual.
In his book titled Integrative Nutrition, Joshua Rosenthal talks about yin yang balance as being one of the eight primary causes of cravings. He states that eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang will cause a craving in order for the body to get back to a state of balance. When the balance is restored, the craving will go away.
- If the craving is for yang foods like meat and heavy cooked foods: A diet with too much sugar or alcohol (yin) can cause a craving for meat or heavier cooked foods (yang). Reducing the consumption of yin foods (sugar or alcohol) and/or increasing the consumption of yang foods (meat or heavy cooked food) will restore balance.
- If the craving is for yin foods like sugar or alcohol: Eating too much meat or heavy cooked foods (yang) can cause a craving for sugar or alcohol (yin). Reducing the consumption of meat or heavy cooked foods will help. While it is not advisable to increase sugar or alcohol, other healthy yin foods can be increased such as salads and fresh raw foods, as well as water to restore balance.
Joshua also states that water can decrease cravings. A craving for sweets (yin) could indicate that you are too yang – dehydrated, or in a tight, ‘contractive’ state from stress, and tension in your body. Drinking water is expansive and increases yin energy – expanding energy throughout the body.
While the philosophy of yin and yang is very complex, we can still consider some of the basic principles and what they can indicate in terms of our body trying to achieve balance.
Are you interested in learning more about cravings and the yin yang philosophy? Contact me and we can chat.
Book: Integrative Nutrition, Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness by Joshua Rosenthal
© 2014 Cathy Ormon, Health Coach. All rights reserved.