When we try to lose weight, we tend to focus only on calories in and calories out. To shed a few pounds, we would eat fewer calories and work out more. In theory, this makes sense, but study after study shows that, in the long run, this method is barely effective.
A calorie is a unit of energy. Our brain, muscles, and every cell in our body require those energies in order to function. So if we attempt to eat fewer calories than we need, our body switches into survival mode. Metabolism slows down as our body tries to conserve energy. The levels of leptin (a hormone that controls our appetite and cravings) decrease, causing us to feel hungrier and increase cravings. As we continue to eat fewer calories, our body starts to break down muscle to use for energy.
Cutting too many calories not only doesn’t work for losing weight, but it could seriously damage our body.
So what can we do?
One of the critical things you have to do in order to lose weight is to eat healthy. It may sound so cliche, but there is no way to lose weight and sustain it without rebound if you keep drinking diet coke or eating low-calorie protein bars. Your body has to be healthy, and it starts with what you are putting in your body.
I know what you are thinking. It’s easier said than done. You want to eat healthy but don’t know where to start. So in this blog, I want to share with you one of the tools that I give my clients to assess what they need to eat more or less of to become healthy. It’s called Yin and Yang theory.
Yin and Yang is the concept of duality forming a whole. It points to an underlying order in the universe based on a dynamic, ever-changing balance between two apparently opposite yet complementary principles. Yang embodies the masculine qualities of hard, strong, active, tight, and contractive. Yin embodies the feminine qualities of soft, yielding, passive, receptive, loose, and expansive.
Regarding food, the yin-yang theory of balance asserts that we should avoid foods that are too Yin, or too Yang, to avoid imbalance which eventually leads to illness.
I have a list of foods below that are associated with each of the elements. You can go through it and see which foods you tend to eat more or less. Remember, the more balanced (not too Yin or Yang) is better.
There are also emotions that are associated with each of the elements. Knowing which emotions are associated with them will help you analyze which type of body you are.
Check each statement that feels true to you and add the number of the checks at the end of each quiz. If you have more checks in Quiz A, you have more signs of Yang. If you have more checks in B, you have more signs of Yin. If you have an equal amount of checks in both quizzes, this could mean you are fairly balanced in regards to Yin/Yang.
Are you balanced Yang?
- I tend to feel warmer than others
- Logical and analytical
- Expressive and extraverted
- Outward confidence and outgoing
Too much Yang?
- Overly aggressive
Total number of checks _____________
Are you balanced Yin?
- I tend to be colder than others
- Calm and mellow
- Flexible or agreeable
- Independent or self-sufficient
- Spiritual oriented mind
Too much Yin?
- “Spaced out”
Total number of checks _____________
So now you know which type of body you are and which type of food you tend to eat more. Next, you figure out what to do to make some adjustments. If you are type Yin and tend to eat more Yin foods, eliminate some Yin food. If you are more Yang and eat more Yang foods, do vice versa. The key to this exercise is to create a balance between Yin and Yang like a seesaw. If one gets heavier than the other one, you take some from the heavier one and make them even.
Our body actually does it by default. You have probably experienced that you ate too much sugar and you craved something salty afterwards. This is the sign of a body trying to maintain the Yin and Yang balance. You took too much sugar, which is Yin, so your body made you eat salt, which is Yang.
As you increase your awareness about the foods you consume, it will become easier to know what your body needs. Your ultimate goal is to have balanced foods (slightly Yin and Yang) in your diet, and by understanding the elements and your body type, you know what to do to become a healthy eater.
I hope this blog gives you an insight that eating healthy is not just eating celery sticks. It’s about learning what your body needs and make some adjustments. You don’t need to cut off all the very Yin and Yang foods all at once. All you need is to start with a couple of items and see how you feel. Once you start eliminating the foods your body doesn’t need, you will stop craving junk or unhealthy food naturally.