The Feng Shui of Food
My friends and I were having dinner together recently and the topic of feng shui came up. We began to wonder if feng shui principles can be applied to food preparation and eating?
The answer to your question is a most definite yes! Feng shui and food correspond in many practical and essential ways, just like feng shui and money or feng shui and love. The conscious use of the five elements, employing the principles of yin and yang, as well as generating positive chi all come into play when discussing the feng shui of food. Most important, however, is the intention in all feng shui activity to cultivate healing and beneficial chi wherever possible.
The five foundational elements of feng shui — wood, fire, earth, metal and water — are also the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and many other Chinese arts and sciences. The Five Element Theory is an ancient template for organizing and describing all of life, with each group including many attributes such as a season, taste, color, direction, body organ, emotion and many more distinctions. Just as all the elements are intricately connected in nature with each element being generated by another in a continuous balance of production and transformation, even the smallest details of our lives are touched by this dynamic. Too much salt or too much sweet or too much of anything upsets the natural order of things.
In studying the feng shui of food, consider the elemental nature of the food you are eating and strive for a balance each day, as illustrated in this chart (see below). While it is best to eat a balance of all the elements, it’s also wise to eat more of the flavor and color of foods that correspond to the season at hand for extra health support and taste.
Just as we strive to balance color, texture and yin and yang properties in our living spaces, these same feng shui principles can also be applied to the food we consume. Yang foods are more energizing; they are warming foods that stimulate activity and action, including meat, eggs, wild salmon, hard cheese, coffee and caffeinated beverages.
Yin foods are energetically more cooling and promote relaxation, stillness, and reflection. They can be found in liquids, fruit, tofu, sour foods, and vegetables, to name a few. Yin refers to milder flavors, while yang would be the bolder, spicier flavors. Most of us are quite familiar with this type of feng shui balance in Chinese and other Asian cuisines: sweet and sour, hot and sour, and strong flavored dishes paired with plain white rice or noodles. Yin and yang applies to the texture of foods as well. This explains the appeal of dishes with a mixture of soft or delicate foods (yin) with crunchy or crisp foods (yang). All successful cooking incorporates the artful use of textures and flavors.
Healthy food preparation, whether commercially or at home, requires that hands are thoroughly washed and all surfaces, utensils, and cookware are clean and free of harmful bacteria. Similarly, the quality of chi that is infused into the food by the preparer needs to be energetically clean and free of contaminants such as negative emotions, thoughts or energy for optimal feng shui. Food prepared with love, care and good intention makes for a delicious and nourishing meal as your positive state of emotions and energetic balance is transmitted into the food and then into the bodies it will feed. Simply stated, cooking with your heart is feng shui at its finest.
Create a kitchen that is well lit, functional, and cheerful to help keep you energized and generating positive chi during the sometimes tedious process of preparing food. Use your best plates whenever possible. Round plates are excellent, as this shape has the most flowing, harmonious movement. Square plates, symbolic of the earth element, are more grounding and make us slow down more while eating.
Color also plays a role in food presentation. White plates allow the beautiful presentation of the food to come forward, acting much like a blank canvas for a masterpiece. Bright orange, red and yellow (yang colors) are often used in fast food restaurants to subliminally encourage diners to eat large amounts of food quickly. Cooler yin colors, such as pale blues and greens, have the effect of helping us be mindful of taking smaller portions, while wildly patterned plates create the potential for digestive upset or a less than calm eating environment.
No matter how simple or humble are the surroundings in which you eat, strive for good chi in the form of gratitude for the food before you. Take the time to eat and chew food properly in a clear, electronic-free environment, turn down loud music and be present to yourself, your food and others dining with you while eating. Enjoy your food and allow good feng shui to nourish you on all levels!
Karen Feldman is a certified feng shui practitioner and interior designer, and the owner since 1994 of Urban Eden, a full-service holistic interior design firm in Providence, RI. Karen helps her residential, commercial and corporate clients to co-create spaces that are beautiful, functional and in alignment with the best interests of their well being along with the planet’s. Send your questions to Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.karenfeldmanurbaneden.com.