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Contracting and Expanding Foods: Is Your Diet Balanced?

February 20, 2013

We’re all looking for balance in our lives, but just as important is balance on our plates. By eating foods that work together as a team, instead of against one another, we can regain energy, create healthy cravings, and leave behind the bloated feeling. To avoid “ping-pong” dieting, eating one type of extreme food to alleviate the effects of the other, you can learn about what we call contracting and expanding foods to find balance in your meals and quickly increase your energy, concentration, and positive mood.

Contracting foods include salty foods and animal protein. When we eat too much, we create an imbalance and start to feel bloated, heavy, sluggish, and mentally slow. The more contracting foods we eat, the tighter our bodies become. As a result, we begin to crave expanding foods to find balance.

Expanding foods include refined white sugar and flour, such as breads, pastas, and cookies. These foods give us a brief feeling of elevated mood, but in the long run can give us feelings of depression, low energy, anxiety, and loss of concentration.

Eating mostly one type of food pushes your body to the extreme, causing exhaustion and imbalance. The trick is to eat less extreme contracting and expanding foods, and in healthy proportions. Foods that are low in salt and refined sugars are a great way to start, as well as combining a healthy amount of vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein into your diet.

For ideas on how to prepare a well-balanced meal, see some of our favorite recipes that will not disturb the yin/yang balance in your diet.

Aside from delicious healthy meals, staying hydrated is essential to diminishing extreme cravings. More importantly, finding balance is more than what’s on your plate. For overall health and wellness, focus on the primary foods in your life, which include healthy relationships, physical activity, a fulfilling career, and spiritual practice. Finding fulfillment in these areas of your life create true health and make what you eat secondary. 

What gives you balance in your life?