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Living in Las Vegas, I have only really known two seasons—summer and winter. But, when it’s 60° F outside, I sometimes forget it is winter; having a family member in Mongolia and hearing stories on the news about how cold it is helps to remind me of the seasons though. Warming foods assist with mitigating cold weather woes, as they make our chronically yin bodies more yang and ease digestion. Anyways, for those of you in tumultuous and frigid weather, here are some ways to keep your insides warm and toasty:

Focus on Yang Foods

Ancient Chinese medicine is grounded on the dualistic and complementary nature of yin and yang. Yin is grounded, tending to be less dense, more chaotic, cold, damp, or ethereal while yang is fluid, tending to be more dense, more internal and warm, dryer, or physical.

Warmth signifies yang; cold, yin. Therefore, to warm the yin body, warm foods are needed. Yang foods are as follows: sea salt, meat, eggs, poultry, fish, and vegetables that grow in the ground or cooked vegetables (these can be neutral too). For comparison, yin foods are as follows: tree fruit, raw vegetables and herbs, juices, sugars, alcohol, drugs, water based meals (soups, smoothies), and dried fruit. Food that has been chopped, ground, blended, pureed, or juiced also makes it more yin. Whole, unadulterated food is more yang. Often, yin foods are focused on more than yang foods, so try and make your daily diet more yang with this recipe or this recipe.

Heat Your Food

As stated above, cooked foods rank as far more yang than yin and are therefore considered to be more warming for the body. Think about when you were ill as a child, your mom or dad usually gave you a soup or something warm to comfort you. Warming foods are grounded on that same concept. Cassie Mendoza-Jones, naturopath, herbalist, and nutritionist, says that the inherent heat in foods relates to its energy and temperature:

“It refers to both. Plants that take longer to grow like carrot, parsnip and cabbage are energetically warming…All of the vegetables that grow quickly like lettuce, radish and cucumber are really cooling,” she said. These warming foods work best when the body is in a relaxed state, and they are chewed well. Warming foods are called such because of their ability to flush the body or create intrinsic heat during digestion. For instance, cooked meals warm the body with their heat by “pushing blood and energy to the surface of the body during the digestion process.” Recipes like this one works wonders on a cold, yin body.

Balance Out Warming, Cooling, and Neutral Foods

Although yang foods are superior with their warming capabilities, yin foods and neutral foods are needed for a balanced diet too. Yin foods are prevalent in grocery stores and make up a significant portion of the modern American diet, so still be wary of that amount but don’t completely cut it out. For lunch, try not having just a salad for lunch; instead, include some cooked vegetables or some root vegetables with it. For dinner, have some neutral foods like cooked grains and beans with your yin and yang foods. Aim for a balance between the three types of foods and you will stay healthy and warm this winter.

Stock Up on Warming Staples

Venture on over to your local grocery store or to your backyard garden to purchase the following warming foods: oats, quinoa, sweet rice, spelt, black beans, coconut, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, asparagus, cabbage, kale, onions, chives, garlic, leeks, scallions, parsley, squash, parsnips. Due to the fact that the relationship between yin and yang is so complicated, there is some discrepancy between which food is yin and which food is yang, so don’t be overwhelmed by the list, make your best judgment, and do some research on specific foods that you love to determine which category it best fits in. For reference, here are some cooling foods: pears, strawberries, lemons, limes, peaches, avocadoes, apples, bananas, wild rice, lettuce, broccoli, wheat, radish, and pumpkin. And, here are some neutral foods: pineapple, raspberries, papaya, figs, apricots, buckwheat, corn, rye, flaxseeds, and black sesame seeds.

The weather outside might be frightful, and you don’t have control over it, but you do have control over your body. Choose yang and warming foods, and your insides will be nice and cozy.


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