Ayurveda and Understanding Food Cravings

A food craving is a deep communication from our Inner Being – speaking to us in a subtle language of taste and impulse.

There is much benefit in bringing the healing power of awareness to your food cravings.

Learning to listen to and understand the healing wisdom of cravings, rather than the usual response of indulging our cravings (which can lead to compensating habits and addictions) or repressing our cravings (which can lead to deep suppressed discontent and frustration).

Approaching your cravings with awareness can act as a living meditation, that may not only bring healing to your mind, but also to your body.

Ayurvedic Food For Understanding Cravings

Ayurveda shares the science of the six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent and bitter) and how they unfold from the five great elements (space, air, fire, water and earth). Using the Ayurvedic Healing art and science of qualities and the principle of “like in increases like” and “opposites bring balance” in our everyday life can be a practical and valuable tool of awareness and healing.

The sweet taste in moderation can be most satisfying. It is also an excellent taste for stimulating growth and grounding (again, when taken in moderation).

Cravings for the sweet taste can indicate a lack of feeling loved or satisfied. In balance, the sweet taste can promote a feeling of contentment and well-being, a profound sense of satisfaction. There is a relieved feeling of “aah” that comes from sweet. For this reason, sweet taste can be calming to the nervous system and mental/emotional energy. Sweet deserves a place in each person’s palate – the appropriate amount and kind for that individual.

What it Could Mean if You are Craving Sweet?

If you are craving the sweet taste, it can be a profound practice to explore your ability to love and be loved, to allow yourself to be vulnerable and to accept the “sweetness” of life.

Do you feel a lack of love? Are you overwhelmed, unorganized or ungrounded? Often those who crave sweet are needing a deeper sense of peace, calm, support and stability in their lives. 

Grains, dairy, sweet fruit and veggies such as sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin are a great healthy source of “sweet”. Maple syrup, honey, dried fruit and cane sugar are another amazing natural source of sweetness. Observing your relationship to the delightful treats and desserts of life is a great practice of deeper awareness and healing. 

Often as we begin to allow in sweetness on other levels (love, warmth, whatever sweet means for us) we find our bodies becoming more satisfied, relaxing. The craving for sweet begins to calm.

The salty taste (found in salt, kelp and seaweed) is an important taste we need on a regularly basis. In small doses, it is excellent to provide structure and enhance digestion. It is moistening, calming and aids in tissue growth.

What it Could Mean if you are Craving Salt ?

Do you feel unsettled, thin and weak? Are you reaching for the bag of chips by the end of the day?

If you are craving salt then it is simple to slightly increase the amount of salt you use to season your food throughout the day. A good quality sea salt or other natural salt is recommended. 

A craving for cold food or drink is an indication of excess heat in the system. It is generally not advisable to take cold foods or drinks (especially in the winter) as they can inhibit and contract the natural digestive capacity.

Ice Cream Cone Food Cravings

What it Could Mean if you are Craving Cold?

The craving for cold is a good indication you need to take a deeper look at the heat, acid, frustration and anger you may be holding. Do you feel critical, angry or frustrated? Are you overheated, flushed and have any burning sensations? 

Foods with a cooling nature are advised such as fennel tea, coriander, cucumber, coconut water/milk and aloe. (Though an occasional ice-cream and delightful cold beverage – especially on a warm day – is always welcomed). 

A craving for warm foods and drink is an indication of excess cold within the body. Supporting the desire for warmth is important to nurture effective digestion, a strong immunity and healthy tissue.

What it Could Mean if you are Craving Warm?

Cold causes us to contract and tighten. Do you feel afraid and alone? Do you have cold hands and feet? This can be reduced by ensuring your food is well spiced, well cooked and eaten warm.

A deeper exploration of using spices such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, basil, oregano etc is required. 

If we are craving light or dry food it may be a good indication that your digestion has become sluggish or your channels are clogged with excess water, tissue or toxins.

What it Could Mean if you are Craving Dry?

Are you feeling stuck, heavy or lethargic? Do you resist change or are you stubborn in your opinions?

A light diet of basmati rice, mung dal and fresh cooked vegetables would be useful for a while.

Spices such as dry ginger, pepper, cumin, coriander, basil, oregano, fennel would be helpful to remove stagnancy and balance digestion. 

Saucy food has a certain satisfaction and warmth. Adding sauces to meals or favouring dals and soups can increase liquid intake and satisfy the feeling of contentment that a certain amount of “juiciness” brings. 

What it Could Mean if you are Craving Moist?

If we’d prefer our food to be moist we are likely experiencing an excess of dryness within.

Is your skin also dry? Are your emotions? Are your relationships?

Increasing liquid intake can be helpful. Favour herbals teas with soothing herbs such as fennel, licorice, rose or chamomile. Also consider juices such as grape, pomegranate or coconut water.

Healthy Ayurvedic Meal For Food Cravings

Sometimes we may crave an ingredient or food (especially from our past) that conveys a certain set of qualities that can bring comfort or balance to our current state.

Look deeper at the craving and explore the qualities of what you are seeking.

Creamy, spicy, comforting, heavy, fresh….. the descriptive words YOU use are a great indicator to what it is you’re needing to restore a sense of balance, and help eliminate a craving.

If you’re finding yourself stuck, frustrated or confused by your cravings, you may find the support of an Ayurvedic Consultation helpful to get a clear diagnosis with some natural remedies to bring relief.

Through the study of Ayurvedic Healing, we can often benefit from the wisdom and experience of a guide or strategy partner when we are looking to change or alleviate that which has become a habit, especially when related to food cravings and daily lifestyle.


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