As a wellness coach and acupuncturist, I’ve seen over and over that the greatest challenge to someone seeking balance is often her individuality. The one-size, cookie-cutter advice (you know, those wellness fads that fill so many magazines and TV talk shows) doesn’t work for every person because it doesn’t account for our unique differences. What’s missing from one person’s ideal can be distinctly different than what would make the balance just right for another.
Balance is essential to wellness, and seeking it is a time-tested healing technique. Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that the universe is composed of five elements—Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Ancient wisdom teaches that people, too, are composed of these same elements. Our personalities, preferences, physical traits, and attitudes reflect the element we most favor—or, more likely, elementS, plural. Many of us, contrary to that cookie cutter I mentioned before, strongly reflect a combination of two or more elements.
Do you know which Chinese elements are dominant in you? Here’s a fun, 5-question quiz to give you an idea what you’re made of—and, better yet, to learn how to unlock wellness tailored especially to the characteristics of your element.Take the Chinese elements quiz.
Before you begin, keep in mind this quiz is about you. Your answers can’t be wrong, so don’t fret over them too much. Trust your gut. And it’s okay to pick more than one answer if that’s the case, too.
1. In typical social or work situations, I’d describe myself as…
A. a natural leader, willing and able to guide.
B. a warm, inviting “people person.”
C. a mediator, the one who recognizes both sides.
D. practical and focused on the goal.
E. quietly confident.
2. I feel most comfortable and am at my brightest and most creative during…
C. late summer or early autumn.
3. When I’m feeling terrific, I’m…
A. physically tolerant. I have good immunity and rarely get sick.
B. joyful and eager. I’ve been told I’m inspiring to others.
C. content and level-headed. People are comfortable counting on me.
D. obviously healthy. I’ve been told my wellness shows in my hair and skin.
E. mentally driven and physically agile.
4. When I’m feeling less than my best, my physical symptoms might include…
A. headaches, numbness, or tremors.
B. pale coloring and sometimes palpitations.
C. fatigue, poor food cravings, and indigestion.
D. exhaustion and breathing and skin problems.
E. headaches and low immunity.
5. When life gets stressful, my mental and emotional state could be described as…
A. indecisive, angry, or just generally moody.
B. restless or anxious.
C. burnout—a feeling of mental shutdown.
D. melancholy—a persistent sense of sadness.
E. fearful or unmotivated.
All done? Now tally to see which lettered response(s) you chose most often. If you answered….
A, you echo the Wood element.
B, you reflect the Fire element.
C, you identify with the Earth element.
D, your characteristics are similar to Metal.
E, you favor the Water element.
Once you have an idea which element(s) you mirror, use that knowledge to make a few conscious food choices that will help keep your life—both the physical and mental aspects—in balance even when outside conditions may not be optimal.
If you’re a Wood, fresh, vibrant flavors appeal. You’ll express your best self when your diet includes leafy green vegetables and berries. Enjoy them in plenty! Make your plate interesting by seeking sour tastes, too.
For a Fire, your life will feel naturally balanced when you fill your plate with an array of colorful fruits and vegetables. Bitter flavors will add dimension, and lime and lemon meet your taste, too.
An Earth person feels best after eating small meals that are cooked and still warm. You have a bit of a sweet tooth—but the natural sweetness of beans, grains, and yellow fruits and veggies satisfies it.
If you’re a Metal, pungent foods such as onions and garlic are especially satisfying. You also appreciate the heartiness of potatoes and fruits that are eaten peeled, such as pineapple and banana. (For a great Metal-friendly recipe, try Spicy Cauliflower “Steaks.”)
For the Water person, saltiness gratifies. Look for healthful salt sources such as seaweed and kelp. Blue, black, and purple foods—think grapes, eggplant, plums, for instance—appeal to you. You’ll find temperatures influence your taste, so when it’s cold out, balance with soups and stews; eat cooler foods when it’s warm.
While a simple, fun test like this one only scratches the surface of the Chinese elements, I hope it has piqued your curiosity! I encourage you to learn more about this gentle, elegant, ancient wisdom and its underlying concept of balance—something we all should have more of in our harried modern lives. Give me a call at 212-686-0939. I’d be honored to explore these ideas with you.