AN INTRODUCTION to YIN and YANG in OUR EVERYDAY SOUPS AND FOOD
Yes, that ever so common Cantonese phrase “yeet hay”! Well, did you know, that yeet hay actually means, excess yang? Although sometimes, it could be mistaken as yin deficiency. And there are actually conditions that show through our body that can help us identify whether we’re excess yin or yan (or deficient) and you can plan soups or teas (and food) around these conditions to help bring yourself back into balance!
One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory. In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other. Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states. Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping). Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).
One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.
How to use this guide:
- This is a broad view of how symptoms show up in yin and yang states. While the tongue is one indicator, from a TCM perspective, it is usually combined with other factors such as skin color, tone of voice, pulse strength, how a patient walks in, or how the bodily fluids are functioning.
- Do see a Chinese medicine practitioner as this information is not a replacement for a doctor.
- You can follow this post for what ingredients are cooling or warming for soups and teas as a start.
- My tongue is pink (not red, but not pale) and has a wet, yellow-white coating. My mouth has been feeling super dry and like I am always thirsty, and I’ve got some painful canker sores developed. My initial read is that I have too much excess yang, likely due to diet over the past few days (which consisted of Korean fried chicken and hot pot), so I made myself something cooling, helps reduce heat in the body and clear that excess yang, and yet nourishing and moisturizes my body (honey and rock sugar are great ingredients here!). I made a simple chrysanthemum honey tea and a dried honeysuckle honey tea to replace my English breakfast in the mornings and a delicious roasted pork and watercress soup for the family.
- It is coming into winter and these chapped lips and dry chafing hands are a good indicator that I could use some qi replenishing support. This is usually the case when it becomes cold, windy, and we are in the deep of winter! If I don’t feel to heaty, I will often make myself a qi replenishing tea with red dates, longans, and dried goji berries. Red dates are the best for this, so I will often add this to soups such as a black silkie chicken herbal soup.
- As I’m getting older, I find my limbs become cold quite often, especially since moving back to Canada and I always want to drink hot drinks. The tongue is wet (not dry), so a good indicator that I have good fluid balance in the body. If no other immediate illness symptoms exist (such as a cough or headache), I’ll slowly improve my overall Qi with simple red dates teas. or with hawthorn as a tea. When your overall Qi is strong, blood is flowing nicely through the body and it’s able to distribute nutrition and heat to every part of it. My own TCM doctor has suggested to try HOT foot baths regularly to get that blood and Qi flowing as well. One interesting experiment is to do this and time it. How long does it take for you to break a sweat? The first time took me 20 minutes! The more you do this with HOT foot baths and supplement with Qi replenishing foods and drinks, this “breaking sweat” time should come down, which means your blood circulation (and Qi) are improving! Will share another post on this shortly of my full experience!
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The great thing about understanding how yin and yang is balanced is that this also pairs with the cooking styles of Chinese soups!
You can follow this post on “How Different Styles of Chinese Soups are Made“.
For further reading, I’ve found some more scientific and published articles. Here are some to read up on:
- Shen, 2007, “Yin Deficiency”, Science Direct [online], “https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/yin-deficiency“
- Ting-Ting Jiang,Ji-Cheng L, 2020, “Review on the systems biology research of Yin-deficiency-heat syndrome in traditional Chinese medicine”, American Association for Anatomy [online], “https://anatomypubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ar.24354″