Arts & Culture 
 Human Rights 
 U.S. Asian Policy 

Home > East Asia > 

Balance Your Life with Food
“The macrobiotic way of life encourages you to eat foods that are locally grown in season, and to avoid foods that are considered to be extremely Yin or extremely Yang.”

 Related Articles
Traditional Culture: One Must Pay Back One's Debts
Acts Upon a Stage (Part 5 of 5)
Acts Upon a Stage (Part 4)
Acts Upon a Stage (Part 3)
Taiwan's Culture of Food
Acts Upon a Stage (Part II)
Chinese Dance in Ancient History
Acts Upon a Stage (Part I)
A Story from History: Jiang Balang Paid His Debt
China's Slavery Scandal Reveals Weaknesses in Governance
Oriental philosophy breaks down food into Yin and Yang, combining the two for the best effect. Yin foods tend to have a calming and cooling effect on the body, while Yang foods warm and stimulate. Rotten, leftover and processed foods are considered toxic or not beneficial.

If your energy is low and you are feeling tired, depressed or sluggish, increase Yang foods. If you are stressed, anxious, over-excited or angry, try the soothing Yin foods. If life is in balance and you feel pretty good, then it may be best to adapt your diet to the external environment. If you are in a cold, damp or wet place then the predominantly Yang diet would be best. If it is hot and dry then the Yin diet would be more suitable.

Macrobiotics, the practice of understanding the effect that food and lifestyle has on health, takes into consideration your individual health and physiology in relation to your geographical location and seasonal changes.

Japanese teacher George Ohsawa cured himself of so-called “incurable” diseases at the age of 18 by eating a simple diet of brown rice, miso soup, and sea vegetables. These foods are in the middle of the Yin and Yang spectrum. He then devoted his life to the study, which he named macrobiotics.

The macrobiotic way of life encourages you to eat foods that are locally grown in season and to avoid foods that are considered to be extremely Yin or extremely Yang. Ohsawa claimed that the modern diet of excess salt, refined sugar, dairy foods, processed food and meat upsets the body’s Yin/Yang balance, which in turn leads to disease. The body is always seeking balance, so if you eat an extreme Yang food such as meat or salty chips, your body will crave an extreme Yin food such as sugar or tropical fruits. The extremes affect not only physical health but also mental health and behavior.

Foods are also classified into five tastes i.e. sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty. A balanced meal is one in which each of the tastes is represented, yet in moderate measure. Sour can be found in pickles or lemons, bitter in parsley or sesame seeds, sweet in brown rice syrup or applesauce, pungent in watercress or garlic and salty in miso. The right combination should leave the eater feeling satisfied.

In the case of illness, certain foods and tastes may be emphasized and others left out to regain harmony.

© Copyright 2002-2007 AFAR