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Yin and Yang Foods

RawKarenRawKaren Raw Newbie

Help! I had an appointment with an accupuncturist yesterday to treat a stiff and very sore neck and shoulders. She is a traditional chinese medicine therapist and she told me I was too yin (cold) and I should eat more yang foods. I did not tell her I was raw, but thought it was amazing that she picked this up. I have done some web search today and am thoroughly confused about yin and yang in a raw environment. Can someone set me straight?


  • i am not sure, you might just want to add some warming spices like ginger and cinnamon. checkout conscious eating,by gaberial cousins.. chefraw.com

  • I just read this coincidentally when I was googling durian (which I have never had. When is it in season???)

    Hope this info is helpful. It was on the following website: froststreet.net/archives/ingredients/

    “As a post-script, I later learned that durian is considered in Eastern medicinal traditions to be an extremely “hot” food, i.e., it falls into the “yang” side of the “yin-yang” balance. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that durian eaters avoid other “yang-y” foods, especially alcohol.”

  • RawKaren, try looking into macrobiotics. http://www.macrobioticcooking.com/6.htmll, although the site is not raw, the page has a genreal overview of yin/yang, acid/alkaline foods. http://www.hipchicksmacrobiotics.com/ The lady at this page wrote a pretty decent book on macrobiotic ideas that go more into depth about the yin/yang business. Good luck!

  • humanimalhumanimal Raw Newbie


    This might help out a bit. It is from a macrobiotic website. If you are trying to increase your yang try to eat more warmed foods and avoid frozen fruits and vegetables all together. Warm your soups and other foods in a dehydrator before eating. Cayenne and roots really help with the cooling effects of yin foods. Cacao is a very yin food so when you make a smoothie with cacao make sure you add some cayenne powder to it to balance everything out. Preparing foods is simply alchemy.


  • teadeteade Raw Newbie


    I also just ran across this site if it helps

  • Is the idea of “warm” food in traditional Chinese medicine wholly related to the temperature of the food, or more to the character? Intuitively you’d think that spices and chilies would be “warmer” foods, whether or not you cook them. Any Chinese medicine experts that can shed some light on this?

  • RawKarenRawKaren Raw Newbie

    Thanks so much to you all for replying to my cry for help. I got very confused because TCM and macrobiotic sites talk about yang foods in slightly different ways. I’m ploughing through all of the recommended links.

    I love the ideas for including warming spices and the dehydrator for warming. Promnesiac, I think TCM experts like you to eat foods that are warm in temperature as well as character.

    Hippie Chick – I’d love to try a Durian, but never found one in England yet!

    Humananimal. You nearly spoiled my day when you wrote about cacoa, but adding cayenne is inspired and a great combo!

    Thanks again to everyone.

  • sweetpeasweetpea Raw Newbie

    Hi Karen, eating the right raw diet for your constition will balance your yin and yang. Basically, yang is fire, contracting energy, yin is cooling and expansive. A raw diet is naturally more yin but if you want to make it more yang, doing it in a macrobiotic kind of way makes sense. This means keeping to low gi fruits and and preparing more foods rather than just eating cooling fruits on their own.

    To increase fire on raw you need to add spices to food, keep the sugar down and balance dry and wet food. Also, make sure you always have warm food rather than eating it cold. It should also be low in fatty foods such as nuts, avocado and coconut oil. Instead use seeds and be light on the oils. Nicely season your food, not salty tasting but mildly savoury.

    Good luck. I was macrobiotic for a few years before going raw.

    Check out http://www.ayurbalance.com/diet_rawfoods.htm

  • My personal opinion on yin and yang and ping and pong is these are all full of you know what! You need to eat one food if the sun is shining in Poland and another when there is snow in Chile and another when there is a rain in Spain. C’mon this is a big story that has no scientific explanations. We all need to consume easy to digest foods that combine well and which are fresh, ripe, organic and raw.

  • RawKarenRawKaren Raw Newbie

    Thanks Sweetpea. I think I now know where I am going wrong as my diet contains alot of avocado, nuts and tropical fruit…...... I have upped my intake of spices in the last few days and root vegetables, and whether it is co-incidental or not, I am feeling a little better. Let’s see!

  • Sweetpea, thank you for your insight, I gues maybe you mentioned the avocados somewhere else, which I eat daily. Though I eat alot of winter storage type roots in my pureed soup,but also onion and garlic, I don’t really want to eat fruit or salad, as they make me more cold. Being cold is the biggest drawback to my first raw winter, and I am really struggling, therefore not really eating right, as I am used to making lots of brothy soups. Anyway, are you familiar with Between Heaven and Earth, if so do you think it is also a good resource for food for me. What about Paul Pitchfords book. The people I know who practice alot of TCM do not feel that I am okay and may be depleting my body by digesting all the raw food in winter. I feel I may need to be tweaking it, just not sure how to go back.

  • sweetpeasweetpea Raw Newbie

    When eating a warming raw diet it’s a good idea to think how you would eat if you were cooked in the winter but adapt it your raw diet. So, you may have lots of spicy soup and bread, I used to love butternut squash/tomato soup. Also, crackers and spicy dips, salad and fruit will make you colder and not help your digestion. But, you can make fruit desserts such as apricot/ginger which is a favourite for myself. I have that for breakfast with custard made from banana/lucuma/mixed spice, and usually sprinkle with extra spice/cacao and may add some goji berries or raisins. Between December and May, there can be alot of moisture in the air (at least here in Scotland), therefore you will be warmer if you balance with a little dry food.

    I have Pitchfords book as reference, again it’s useful to read about the principles and then apply them to your own diet.

    conscious eating by Cousens is also very good and it applies more to raw foodies, although it needs updating.

  • SoCal—Your username makes me wonder whether or not you have to deal with months of below freezing temperatures where you live. and maintain a raw diet. This problem is very, very real. I do believe many should re-introduce cooked root vegetables into the evening meal in the coldest winter months—December through February, or one risks seriously compromising the immune system and inviting infection, and hence missing the opportunity for a spring cleanse. In large part it differs from person to person. One size does NOT fit all. Sorry. You need to adjust things to support your unique body issues. This is not necessarily to say that you’ll be like this forever, but in transitioning into raw it’s wise be aware of very real seasonal influences. Chinese medicine is an EXCELLENT source for information on this, probably the best, in fact, since their whole lexicon of medicinal herbs was developed along principles of cold and hot, dry and moist. The very basis of the chinese study of medicinal plants is analyzing what properties a plant would need to counteract—survive in—the conditions in which it grows. So plants which grow in hot, dry climates have moist, cold qualities—in order to survive—and likewise ones which have evolved to grow in cold, wet climates have developed hot, dry characteristics to counteract the environment and survive. That’s the basis of Chinese botanical medicine right there. It’s powerful stuff. Start learning which foods and herbs are which, and to be willing to make yourself that warming soup on winter evenings, even if you are a raw foodist. Better to be strong and ready for a glorious, renewing raw summer (the time when humans undisputedly should be raw foodists) than sick all winter and using summer just to recuperate. The ayurvedic tradition is also a good source for knowledge of warming and cooling foods, particularly culinary herbs. Some very warming seasonings include ginger, white pepper, cinnamon, asafeotida—(hing)—this is really the ultimate warming food, black mustard seeds, curry. Foods include split peas, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, celery root, yam, turnip, kale, winter squash, cabbage. Good luck, and enjoy your cooked warming foods! (these same foods are excellent RAW in the AUTUMN to transition your body into dealing with the cold ahead, by the way). Beware of coconut, chocolate, cucumber, [raw] dairy, and others. These are potent cooling foods, very useful in hot climates, but they just should not be eaten in winter. :)

  • RawKarenRawKaren Raw Newbie

    Thanks Rawpease. Whilst I’m not a Chinese medicine expert, I have taken the advice from these pages and it is helping. I live in a cold and wet climate and this time of year I have been eating roasted parsnips, carrots and celery root in the last week. I have also upped my intake of warming spices and have swapped chocolate for cinnamon. I did not know about coconut, so I will be aware.

  • rawpease and sweetpea; thank you for the tips. I am trying to figure this all out. rp, what you said about compromising the immune system and using summer to recuperate really hit home. I started raw for help with a serious auto-immune issue, and really feel weak, and cold. I am just having trouble going back to integrate the cooked food, it is hard to even eat my favorite cooked roots. feeling sort of anorexic. your simple explanation about the seasons and how/where the plants grow or grow best seems easy to apply, if I can apply my gardening knowledge. I’m thinking peas, spinache, and anything else that grows better in the cool spring would be warming too, is that the right concept? sp; Pitchford’s book mentions the length of time to maturity as a guideline, too; yes, no? I have had the book for months, but it is so big i’m overwhelmed with it. the TCM dr I was seeing, just gave me the lame “everything in moderation” answer, when I asked about diet to augment the acupunture treatment. I want to go back, but I want the whole package. thank you both for your insight.

  • alpdesignsalpdesigns Raw Newbie

    There are so many diets out there that I’ve often joked in my own raw food group that I was going to do a raw version of The Best Bet/Macrobiotic/Blood Type/Paleolithic/Alkaline Diet. Eating more raw produce is something that they all have in common.

  • BluedolfinBluedolfin Raw Newbie

    123~ No joke! I have thought about “mapping” out these different diets and using the commonalities and calling that THE diet. Come to think of it… I don’t think that would work either… each diet has synergist factors. Ugh! What is a human to do? ;)

  • 123 and Bluedolphin-yeah it is quite laughable. There are some: like the Blood type that have no science behind it. There are still many others that may not have the Western science behind, but really seem so tangible and applicable, that you don’t need it. I really think that the Yin and Yang concept makes more sense than anything I have tried to grasp, not that I get it yet. The way rawpease explained it so simply, seems real. Acid/alkaline balance is very real too. I just use whatever I can see personal application for, from several different food plans; though I can’t even begin to fully apply it all to my raw diet. I don’t buy the one size fits all for any way of eating: but some things just apply no question about it, whiile others do not fit. My husband and I ( I’m very Yin and he’s very Yang ), and all three children are the same blood type; but we all eat differently, with different food sensitivities. If one ( also Yin) daughter follows the blood type diet, she can manage her her sinus problems and IBS, which she has had all her life. We are all a mix of Yin and Yang, with different foods we are drawn to. I am glad they are all grown, and I don’t have to try to figure it out just to feed my family. Any way I checked in just to tell RawKaren I roasted my parsnips, rutabagas, carrots, and celery with coconut oil, and curry powder, I am in LOVE. The carmelized roots were so yummy compared to my root stew I made over the weekend, I have to force myself to eat it. I also baked some salmon. That was my first planned cooked dinner in about 7 mos. I have to try this raw til dinner, for the rest of the winter. What does anyone else who does this eat?

  • wow! this topic is pretty similar to conversations at my house…
    my husband is an acupuncturist. he’s not raw, not vegan, and parties a bit
    but he’s the healthiest person i know! i think a lot of health and balance comes from a balanced mind and a balanced approach to food.
    he is always on to me about my ‘blood deficiency’ and all those cold raw foods damaging my ‘spleen’ ( a common sign of spleen imbalance is a pot belly, myself and some others i know tend towards this) and i have to admit i do get kinda anemic at times, and i am breastfeeding. but i truly believe raw can work, it feels so right…
    chinese medicine is great, and i think its ideas can be applied to a raw diet. and i agree with everyone’s advice on this thread already, except the macrobiotic stuff… (its a modified and misinterpreted version of TCM, in my humble opinion)
    i think maybe what i get out of all this is, that moderation is key, balance is important and look after your spleen.
    i used to have anorexic and still obsess over foods at the best of times. im learning tho!
    i love acupuncture ! its seems like lots of raw foodies do…

  • artistruth I am just now getting into a bit of understanding yin and yang. I really had no clue when I started going for acupuncture last Spring, he also had me on chinese herbs. I went for 7 treatments, with the only result being an autoimmune disease coming to the surface. I was overwhelmed with everything and felt worse than I did when I started treatment, so I haven’t been back. I want to try it again, but I really want more than the needles. My issue with the catch all “everything in moderation”approach to diet is: if someone is deficient, the deficiency will not be corrected, just with the acupuncture. The yin or yang needs to be nourished with diet, and I really feel I have depleted the yang energy instead of nourishing it. I am so frustrated with this, as TCM is so much more than acupunture. I am working on it. What rawpease said about spend the summer recuperating from winter, instead of being a time of cleansing is ringing in my ears. ashtangi What do you mean about the peppers(before they make you sweat)? How does this work with the fact that Mexican natives eat the jalapenos, and the climate is hot and dry, making the peppers cooling. They sure don’t eat them to get warm, does this mean thy are nourishing the yang? What does anyone think about that? I’m from the West, grew up on chili, hot red chilies, cayenne pepper, etc. and that makes sense, cuz it’s not keeping me warm here in the Midwest.

  • Where did everybody go? I was really enjoying this discussion, and really working on this concept applying to my raw diet. I have cut way back on avocados, always, warming food, adding more spices, started drinking herb teas again. I am going to try white pepper, too, any suggestions about where to use it. I have always loved it, haven’t used very much over the years, but I know it is one of the elements I love in my favorite cooked Thai dish. I am still cold, struggling with what to eat sometimes, and sometimes just eat the same raw soups over and over til I don’t want to eat them again.

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