Your body works toward balance – equilibrium. If your body is cold, it shivers to warm itself up. If it’s hot, it perspires to cool itself off. If it’s too acid, it calls on backup systems to neutralize it. If it’s too alkaline, it incites internal activity that produces acid. Balance is good.
But, here’s an out-of-balance situation that may be new to you. It’s related to the types of food you eat – contractive and expansive foods. The terms “contractive” and “expansive” aren’t far-out words, but we don’t often hear them applied to foods.
“Contractive”, as it relates to foods, refers to a drawing in, squeezing, or limiting effect the foods have on the body. We’re not talking about reducing body size. We’re talking about an internal tightening or restricting – up-tightness. “Expansive” relates to opening out, blossoming, or inflating. Again, not body size – it’s an internal effect. Both expansive and contractive foods can stress your body and affect your mental attitude.
In general, acidifying foods are contractive. They lead to an up-tight attitude. Similarly, in general, alkalizing foods are expansive foods that promote a loose, laid-back, possibly spacey outlook. A few foods, however, are neither highly expansive nor highly contractive; they’re neutral.
Neutral foods are the least-stress foods. The most neutral of all foods is nature’s absolute best get-this-small-person-off-to-a-good-start food – mother’s milk. But mother’s milk is a short-term food for infants. For toddlers through adults, the foods that put the least stress on the body are those closest to neutral. Least-stress foods on the contractive side are grains, nuts, seeds, and beans. Least-stress foods on the expansive side are vegetables and fruits.
Fruits and vegetables are slightly expansive. Increasingly expansive are fruit juice, tea, coffee, chocolate, syrups (honey and molasses), sugar, wine, beer, liquor, and the most expansive of all, prescription, over-the-counter, and recreational (usually illegal) drugs.
On the contractive side, grains, nuts, seeds, and beans are slightly contractive. Increasingly contractive are butter, chicken, fish, eggs, fowl, red meat, and the top contractor, salt. Contractive foods are essentially acid-producing foods, and acid-producing foods are essentially contractive foods.
Your body achieves a level of balance, even if the foods you eat are either mostly contractive or mostly expansive. The balancing results may show up in your personality. A predominantly contractive personality expresses itself in various forms of quick temper, explosiveness, or aggression. If not outright physical aggression, it may be masked as constant nervousness, physical over-activity, or verbal over-activity. Contractive personalities are always busy, always over scheduled, often flying off the handle and foot tapers.
A predominantly expansive personality is casual, laid-back, unable to concentrate, not “grounded” and minimally motivated. Despite their laid-backness, expansive personality people tend to be worriers. They don’t fidget. Some overzealous vegetarians can become so expansive; they appear to be on “cloud nine” – barely in touch with reality.
Drugs, alcohol, chocolate, coffee, tea, and fruit juices are big favorites of the expansive. The most expansive substances we can put into our bodies are drugs. But items that appear lower on the expansive list can have “drug-like” effects and also leave their mark on the personality.
Few of us limit our diets exclusively to only contractive or only expansive foods. Most meals contain some of both. Consequently, most of us don’t exhibit the dramatic personality types of extreme aggression or extreme spaciness. We’re more likely to be moderate in our contractive or expansive personality displays. We may be moderately aggressive – impatient, bossy, negative, overly critical of others, generally at odds with the world, but able to function well enough. Or we may be moderately spacey – disorganized, easily distracted, have trouble following a project through to completion, worry a lot, generally have an outwardly easy-going outlook, but grounded enough to do those things that ought to be done.
Highly contractive or highly expansive foods mean a highly stressed body. And we’re not telling you that vegetables and fruits are the answer to all of life’s problems. We’re telling you that you need to eat plant food in order to give your body the nutrients it needs to keep your internal environment a neat place for your cells to live. Most Americans eat some fruits and vegetables. However, all too many of us don’t eat enough. Your body is geared to handle vegetables and fruits. And even if they aren’t your favorite foods now, they will climb on your “gee that’s pretty good” list when your body finds out what it has been missing – when your body is able to find the balance between contractive and expansive.