Macrobiotic expert Shonali Sabherwal tells you how foods influence your feelings and what to put on your plate to flip your mood
On the big day of her book launch, macrobiotic expert Shonali Sabherwal ate calming foods that helped tone down her “hyper” self. If she’s feeling down, or needs more energy, she changes her diet accordingly. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), upon which Macrobiotics is based, each organ is related to an emotion, which can be altered by the foods you eat as foods impact the body’s energy. “TCM also sees each organ as a complex energetic system encompassing not only its anatomical entity, but each organ is correlated with a particular emotion, tissue, sense organ, mental faculty, colour, climate, taste, smell and more,” says Sabherwal. “These are referred to as ‘internal organ correspondences’. The foods are chosen based on the season in which they predominantly grow and the pattern of growth such as upward, inward, downward, tubers (which grow horizontally), etc. This applies to whole grain, lentils, beans and vegetables.” To feel good, all you have to do is pay attention to what’s on your plate.
I want to be happy. What do I eat?
Happiness and anger are both associated with the liver. To be less angry and impatient, you have to feed the liver. Spring is the season corresponding to the liver, and thus everything that grows upwards will placate the organ. Eat whole grains such as barley, amaranth (rajgeera), quinoa and whole oats. All vegetables fall in this category, especially sprouts, leafy greens, spring onions, radish leaves, turnip and mint leaves.
What should I eat to feel joyous?
Summer is the season of the heart, which along with the small intestines, is in charge of happiness. To activate it eat whole grains such as brown rice and amaranth (rajgeera). Legumes such as sprouts and soybeans also work, as do bitter foods such as raddish, mustard leaves, onion and garlic. Make meals out of vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, and seeds such as chia and flax.
Gosh, I’m anxious
Late summer is the season corresponding to spleen and pancreas, who make you anxious if they are feeling scratchy. Foxtail millet (also called cheena), starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, red pumpkin, carrots, onions and cabbage correspond to the taste of these organs and hence soothe it. Your spleen and pancreas also like black beans such as rajma, black soybeans and chickpeas.
I feel a bout of blues coming on…
Pay attention to your lungs. Their corresponding season is autumn and the taste is pungent. All whole grains and pungent vegetables such as radish (which is pungent and bitter), mustard leaves and mustard will help discharge mucous from the lungs and clear it up. Greens such as arugula, broccoli, wheat grass and parsley and also spirulina, rich in chlorophyll, help discharge negativity from this organ.
How do I feel more secure?
Cater to your kidneys. Their season is winter and taste is salty. All foods rich in magnesium help calm the nerves; all heart foods help here. Whole grains such as millet, barley, buckwheat (kuttu), fermented foods such as tofu, and whole beans, especially kidney beans should be on your plate. Spirulina has magnesium at its centre so it will help clear the kidneys. Though the kidneys like salt, too much of it may cause them to contract and make you feel more insecure. Eat small amounts of rock or sea salt.
Cheese, eggs, salt, baked products, chips and roasted products contract all organs and tense them up. Coffee, dairy products, sugar, preservatives such as MSG, excessive fruit and spices make you scattered and confused.