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Feng Shui For Your Diet? Understanding the Basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine & Nutrition

"In Western Medicine the body is seen as a machine, you try to fix a broken part or take it out. In Chinese Medicine, the body is seen as a garden. If the leaves are wilting or turning brown, you examine the condition of the soil, see if the plant is getting enough water & sun or if the roots are being impinged upon. You don’t just paint the leaves green! "

Between Heaven and Earth

Most people don't know that the principles of Feng Shui can also be applied to the human body. Just as Feng Shui seeks to optimize the energy flow in our living spaces, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) aims to balance the energy flow within our bodies to promote health and well-being.

With its roots tracing back over 2500 years, this ancient holistic approach considers various factors, including dietary, environmental and lifestyle, in assessing imbalances and promoting healing. It intertwines nutrition and food science with universal energy laws, underscoringthe powerful link between mind and body. In this post we'll delve into the holistic principles of Chinese Medicine and understand the interconnectedness of our bodily systems, embarking on a transformative journey toward greater health, harmony, and vitality.

Cultivating Balance and Harmony

Traditional Chinese Medicine views the body as a microcosm of the universe, with energy channels known as meridians running throughout, similar to the concept of energy pathways in Feng Shui. The goal of Chinese medicine is to ensure that the Qi flows smoothly through these meridians, as any blockages or imbalances can lead to illness and discomfort.

Just as Feng Shui seeks to create a harmonious environment by arranging objects in specific ways, Chinese medicine utilizes various techniques to balance the body's energy flow and promote health:

The Five Elements

One of the fundamental principles of both Feng Shui and Chinese medicine is the concept of the five elements. Each element is associated with specific organs, emotions, colors, and seasons,

Each of the 5 elements corresponds to the 5 Flavors in Chinese Medicine, which are affiliated with the 5 organ systems of the body. Maintaining a balance between them is essential for overall health.

While our living spaces can aid in achieving wellness and equilibrium, delving deeper into Feng Shui involves assessing our lifestyle choices as well. Our diet, in particular, offers a simple yet potent way to cultivate overall health and well-being, considering that our bodies serve as the vessels for our soul and spirit.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views emotions and physical health as interconnected, with each influencing the other in a dynamic loop. Emotions are categorized into five basic feelings in TCM, each associated with a corresponding organ.

Illness or dis-ease is a sign that there is an imbalance of Yin or Yang in the body. Symptoms in our body serve as valuable clues, acting as direct messages from our bodies to signal when something isn't quite right—whether on a physical, mental, or emotional level.

In Chinese Medicine, all symptoms, regardless of their nature, can be traced back to imbalances or dysfunctions in the main 5 organ systems. Failing to address symptoms properly may lead to more severe ailments down the line.

The foods below are considered balanced in Yin and Yang, thus neutral for all bodies.

  • Wood: Liver, gall-bladder / nervous system

    • Green or Sour foods - vinegar, citrus*, grapes*, olives *fermented foods

    • Emotion: Anger

  • Fire: Heart, small intestine / cardiovascular system

    • Red or Bitter foods - parsley, kale, collard greens, coffee

    • Emotion: Joy

  • Earth: Stomach, spleen / digestive system

    • Yellow or Sweet foods - rice, *sweet potato, cabbage, *carrot, squash, *corn, honey, red meat*, cowsmilk*, fruit* peanut*

    • Emotion: Worry

  • Metal: Lungs, lymph / immune system -

    • White or Pungent foods - scallions, radish, ginger

    • Emotion: Grief

  • Water: Kidney, bladder / endocrine system

    • Dark or Salty foods - seaweed, tamari, pickles, shellfish)

    • Emotion: Fear

Indeed, Mother Nature has given us a "cheat sheet" into nutritional medicine. So, if someone is experiencing poor digestion, for example, they should consume more yellow foods like winter squash.

"Balance is not something you find, it's something you create."

Jana Kingsford

Food as Medicine

Today, it's widely accepted that our diet plays a crucial role in either fostering disease or promoting longevity.

Despite knowing that certain foods like alcohol, sugar, and synthetic additives are harmful, many of us still consume them out of habit rather than ignorance. As always, moderation is key. A little of these flavors goes a long way. Too much of a certain flavor will cause a weakening effect.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, food is seen as a powerful tool for maintaining health and preventing disease. Eating according to the principles of Chinese medicine can help support the body's natural balance. Foods are classified based on their energetic properties and their effects on the body, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients and moderation in consumption.

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."


Your Energy Type

In TCM, Yin represents FORM, while Yang embodies FUNCTION. This duality can be likened to the elemental contrast of Water and Fire—opposing yet complementary forces. Each individual possesses a unique blend of Yin and Yang qualities, with one usually dominant based on factors like blood consistency and organ health.

Maintaining a balance between Yin and Yang is key, as our tendencies may fluctuate with seasonal changes, age, environment, and other life factors.

If you're Overly Yang in constitution, then you need a Yin-based diet.

Signs of Yang-Dominance

  • red complexion

  • easy to sweat or overheat

  • aggressive or outgoing personality

  • loud voice

  • dry mouth

  • frequent thirsty or hungry

  • prone to constipation

  • prone to halitosis (bad breath)

  • infrequent urine, urine that is usually dark

  • irritable moods

  • insomnia

  • heavy menstruation

Foods that are Cooling (Raw, Steamed, Boiled, Stewed)

Yin Foods are beneficial in cooling the blood and clearing out toxins.

  • Fruits: grapefruit, watermelon, apple, mango, orange, pear, strawberry

  • Veggies: lettuce and sprouts, tomato, seaweed, broccoli, cucumber, spinach

  • Grains: barley,

  • Protein: tofu, yogurt, egg white

  • Condiments & Spices: salt, soy sauce, sesame oil

If you're Overly Yin in constitution then you need to prioritize a Yang Diet.

Signs of Yin-Dominance

  • pale complexion

  • cold limbs and fingers

  • low energy

  • loose stools

  • introverted personality

  • lack of appetite

  • frequent urine, urine that is usually clear

  • dizziness

  • swelling in the legs

Foods that are Warming (Roasted, Deep Fried, Baked, Stir Fried)

Yang Foods bring more warmth and flow to the body- improving circulation and boosting immunity.

  • Fruits: dates, peach, raspberry,

  • Veggies: asparagus, leeks, onion, pumpkin, sweet peppers,

  • Grains: pine nuts

  • Protein: chicken, goats milk, lobster, walnut

  • Condiments & Spices: clove, ginger, cinnamon, mustard

As you can see, many of these foods are traditionally seasonal - for good reason. Yin foods are best enjoyed in warm summer (Yang) months, while Yang foods are best in cold winter (Yin) months. This is ultimately because it can help bring us in harmony with nature and earth. Our bodies go through cyclical changes throughout the year and nature provides the perfect blueprint for balancing our bodies during seasonal shifts.

Most of us will naturally have cravings, and it is those urges which are your body telling you where it needs to be balanced!

Other Feng Shui-Inspired Tips for Your Body

AVOID "C.R.A.P" - You'll notice there is not any mention of the typical American diet of convenience-based, processed foods. These are considered Chi-depleting, as they are the most distant from nature. For the highest vibrational frequency it is always best to opt for a whole-food, clean-eating plant-based diet and to stay away from "C.R.A.P" (Carbonated drinks, Refined sugars, Artificial ingredients, Packaged foods)

EAT REGULARLY - Strive to eat at consistent intervals - every few hours. Having a solid routine for your digestion is key for your balanced Earth element. Also- never skip breakfast- the digestive system is most active during 7-9am and 9-11am)

STAY BALANCED - While a raw foods diet juice-cleanse may be trend-worthy, it is actually considered too Yin and dampening in Chinese medicine. It's fine to have some fresh, cooler foods of course, but in moderation mixed with warming, cooked or neutral temps.

STAY HYDRATED - You may have read that drinking ice water is best for your metabolism. This could be true temporarily however for the best longterm health , it is recommended to drink room temperature water instead of cold water.

DIGEST MINDFULLY - Be present in the moment of every dining experience, chewing your food slowly and intentionally, keeping your screens off and conversation to a minimum. Avoid eating when stressed as that can have a negative impact on digestion as well.

STAY CLOSE TO NATURE - Cook your food in natural, earth-based materials whenever possible. This includes ceramic, glass, or stainless steel.

EMBRACE FULL SPECTRUM WELLNESS: The following methods align with TCM philosophies, helping to restore balance to the body and promote overall health.

  • Acupuncture: This ancient practice involves inserting thin needles into specific points along the meridians to stimulate the flow of qi .

  • Herbal Medicine: Chinese herbs are often prescribed to address imbalances and promote healing in the body. Each herb is selected based on its energetic properties and its ability to restore harmony to specific organs and meridians.

  • Qi Gong and Tai Chi: These ancient practices combine movement, breathwork, and meditation to cultivate qi, improve circulation, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being.

"Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind, and spirit. When one is free from physical ailments and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open."

B.K.S. Iyengar

Wrapping It Up

Achieving balance in the body is not just about treating symptoms; it's about addressing the root cause of imbalance and restoring harmony within.

Embracing the wisdom of Chinese medicine can empower you to live a healthier, more balanced life . By understanding the energetic properties of the five elements and how they correspond to different aspects of your body and life, you can take proactive steps to optimize your health and cultivate balance and harmony on both a physical and emotional level.

Chinese medicine offers a holistic approach to health and wellness that aligns closely with the principles of Feng Shui. By recognizing the interconnectedness of our bodies, minds, and environments, we can take proactive steps to optimize our health and create a sense of harmony and balance in our lives, from the inside out.



Erin is a certified feng shui consultant, energy healer, wellness coach, and holistic growth strategist.

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