Energetics of Food: Why is it Important?

yin_yin-yang_yang-imageThe energetics of food can be quite the tricky concept for the Western mind to understand. It’s definitely not impossible to understand; it’s more that the concept of energetics is a cross current pattern of thoughts that collide against the way in which most Westerners think about the food that they consume. I am one of these Westerners; my Western mindset gave me a lot of applicable and helpful knowledge. However, this mindset also led me astray when it came to my own health. I was so engrossed with consuming items that had phenomenal nutrient profiles that I had not considered the energetics of the food that I was eating. Once I accounted for the energetics of food, applied these Eastern concepts into my diet, and began Western nutritional supplementation, it was then that my health came back online.

energetics-apple

This image uses special photography to see the energetics of this apple. This is a real image of an apple. http://kirlian.com/

If you’re wondering, “what does the energetics of food even mean?” then please read this phenomenal series by Kaely Shull: Power of Energetics: Food as Medicine, Power of Energetics: Yin and Yang, Power of Energetics: 5 Properties, and Power of Energetics: 5 Flavors (Part 1) & Part 2. These blogs do an amazing job at exploring the dense, broad, and integral concepts related to this topic.

I am writing this blog post to share my personal experience with you: optimal health can sometimes require both Eastern and Western methodologies of medicine.

Over the last 8 years I have been attempting to widen my perspective to include ideas, concepts, and ways of being that are not aligned with my culturally adopted way of thinking. Chinese medicine—and the vital knowledge of energetics—has been one of the avenues which deeply expanded my thought processes, and more recently, has shifted me into better understanding how the energetics of food directly affects my body. To be completely honest, this transition into Eastern thinking literally feels as if my brain is turning inside-out and upside-down from its normal Western alignment. I feel like a ship lost at sea with only a half-working compass.

Not to worry though! Our minds and our bodies have the ability to make sense of this “lost” feeling. Eventually we can re-calibrate, and quite naturally, these two mindsets can learn to live harmoniously. The synergistic relationship between these two seemingly opposing ways of thinking can begin to inform one another and a new level of health can be established—one which would be almost impossible with either side being alone by itself. As with anything, this is an ever-growing process, and it is one that I am currently adapting to because of a recent health issue in my own life that has resurfaced from my past: dermatitis.

I’m currently 28 and this recent health issue, although in a new area of my body, was not something that I hadn’t experienced before. As a child I had extreme (well, to me) spouts of diagnosed eczema that had ebbed and flowed throughout my life and throughout different parts of my body. This form of dermatitis had been diagnosed and treated by Western medicine specifically via applying steroid creams and pharmaceutical liquids; this ‘fixed’ it for the time. After my body went through puberty my symptoms of eczema mostly stopped, and every once in a while since then, a small patch would show up in what seemed to be random parts around my body and I could not figure out what caused it. These small patches were minor and didn’t affect my daily life. I began to notice that my skin was my “Achilles heel” since I hardly got sick outside of skin issues, so I began changing my diet in the ways I knew best.

superfoodOver these last 8 years I have tried a multitude of different ‘healthy’ superfoods, drinks, smoothies, practices, etc. in order to optimize my own wellness and to detoxify my body from the things that I consumed before I became aware of the importance of food as medicine. However, my thought processes which lead me to these ‘healthy’ items was confined to my Western model of thinking—one which had overlooked the importance of the energetics of food, and instead, singularly focused on the nutritional profile. I was so busy seeking various superfoods containing abnormally high amounts of antioxidants, anticancer-agents, omegas, fiber, and protein that I unintentionally disregarded the importance of also utilizing the energetic qualities that were imbibed within these healthy sources: yin & yang, 5 properties, 5 flavors, 5 elements, and the 4 directions.

path_through_the_forest-t2My lack of applied knowledge, within the vital field of the energetics of food, led me astray. My hand flared a fiery red with inflamed dermatitis; the discomfort associated with this kept me from sleeping and was a constant struggle of attempting to rehydrate it will various oils; the less I slept, the more I stressed, the worse my hand inflamed. I then saw Donna, our practitioner here at East-West Wellness, and she reminded me of the importance of the energetics of food. After a month of this, I was finally able to see through the forest and know the path that I needed to take. I back-peddled through my mind to try to find where I went wrong. What was I doing that could have caused this to happen? If there isn’t a directly specific cause, then what things are feeding this fire on my hand?

Here lies one of the things that started the fire on my hand: my most recent blog posts (written 3 months before this blog and about 1 month before my hand flared) were written about the energetics of turmeric (Part 1 & Part 2). Turmeric has a plethora of amazing benefits for the body so I decided to prescribe myself ‘therapeutic dosages’ of turmeric. Even though I wrote this article with the intention of expressing its energetic qualities, I again still focused on the Western sense of a nutritional potency: I made a golden paste (highly condensed turmeric) and put this into most of my foods; I would sprinkle turmeric on almost every meal that I ate; I would also add it into my coffee and cacao drinks. I did this heavilTumeric and tumeric powder.y after I wrote that set of blogs, and then after a month of heavily consuming turmeric, my hand slowly exploded with dermatitis that got worse day by day.

Turmeric has a warming energetic constitution; this energetic quality of turmeric—even though it is also anti-inflammatory in Western terms—most definitely fed the inflammation on my hand. I also love spicy foods of all sorts, so naturally I had been consuming many spicy foods at the same time as this new influx of turmeric came into my digestion. Donna explained to me that the dermatitis on my hand has a hot energy to it (as it was obviously inflamed, red, and felt very hot in temperature), and therefore I should remove all energetically warming foods, begin to include more cooling foods, and to also use a topical neem cream with added vitamin D. I did all of this as well as ingested Chinese herbs prescribed by her which helped to clear the extra heat that I had in my system. After a blood test, I was also prescribed a few Western supplements to bring my nutrient levels back into an optimal state.

energetics-pear

Visual Energetics of a Pear

Almost two months later, after being urged to become aware of the energetic impacts of the food that I choose to consume, I now feel and see an immense improvement in my hand. The inflammation has receded, the pain has gone away, and my skin is beginning to feel normal again (FINALLY!). The miraculous thing about this improvement is that this improvement in health was able to occur during my most intensely stressful semester of college-level chemistry and biology (which was definitely among one of the causative factors).

All of this to say that by me shifting my perspective into applying the importance that energetics can play within my own body was a mind-body altering experience for me. Now, I can’t say that turmeric and warming foods were the only culprit—that is very obvious to me—as the ways in which I was dealing with my stress was also a contributing factor, and there were many other things that I had to become aware of (e.g. ingredients in soap, my need to increase exercise, etc.). However, I do feel that being armed with medical knowledge from a multitude of cultures, and now the direct experience of how the energetics within all foods affects my biology, became a key concept that allowed me to take control of my own health. This applied knowledge allowed me to be empowered in the decisions I make every day: what will I eat today? How will this food choice affect my energetics?

Now this doesn’t mean that I can never eat spicy foods or turmeric ever again—unless of course I took a food sensitivity test and found out otherwise. It does mean, however, that I need to learn how to balance my foods in relation to the qualities that these foods bring into my body. This is an art within itself; one that I am immensely excited to learn more about and integrate into my ever-evolving diet.

I know within my heart that this disruption in my health was a blessing in disguise. It is my hope that this experience can also be of help to those of you who read this. Feel free to post if you have any questions or comments =)

energetic-temperature-of-food

Click image to enlarge and save it for your reference

  • Koren Taylor

    Thank you!! The description of your journey has helped so much.

    • http://www.ewwellness.com Donna Sigmond

      You’re VERY WELCOME, Koren! I appreciate your comment! I’m happy this helped; that’s exactly what we’re here for =)
      Best Health,
      -Joey from the Wellitude Team