What Your Food Cravings Say About Your Emotions

Deanna M. Minich, PhD, CN, author of Chakra Foods for Optimum Health told us what the five top food cravings say about your emotions.

Eating because of emotions is one of the main reasons for overeating. Rather than expressing emotions, we tend to stuff them down with food, which our bodies translate as “comfort” and “fulfillment” at times that we may not feel so comfortable and fulfilled. Often, people don't even truly know what they feel because they've buried their feelings so deeply within. That's why a small, seemingly insignificant event can lead to an outburst - because of all the volcanic action bubbling inside! The truth of the matter is that the more readily we can express our emotions, the more healthy our bodies, hearts, and minds will be. Scientific research has shown that when people have difficulty identifying the emotions they are having and dealing with them, they are more prone to engage in binge eating.  Therefore, the key is to know what you're feeling. By deciphering the real meaning of your cravings, you can get insight as to what's gnawing at you from within. Cravings are a sign that something is off balance or that we need to pay attention to something in our lives. And, if we choose to look at cravings from a symbolic point of view, we can get layers of information and insight as to what is imbalanced or what needs tending to. The bottom line is that your cravings are a window into your inner landscape!

Here are some general cravings and commonly associated emotional states based on the properties of the food, along with some alternatives to indulging in those cravings:

Sweets (pastries, cakes, candy, pies, etc.): Cravings for sweet foods of all types are probably the most frequent cravings people confess to me. When I ask the sugar cravers about what is going on in their lives, they typically get this “you don't want to know” look in their eyes, and then they rattle on about working too long and hard, crossing off their never-ending to-do list items, and feeling utterly exhausted. They barely have any time to do what they'd like to do. Usually, they have so little time for themselves that they even forget to eat, causing their blood sugar to become erratic, and, ultimately, resulting in less ability to concentrate and focus on all those tasks they signed up for! The emotional, symbolic reason for sweet food cravings is because they aren't experiencing the joy or the sweetness in their lives. Any trace of joy has evaporated in the flurry of their daily grind. What I like to recommend to those with a overwhelming sweet tooth is get your blood sugar into balance by eating more frequent meals, and plan for an activity you enjoy for just 30 minutes per day, whether taking a walk in the park, reading a good book, getting your nails done, or treating yourself to a foot massage. Once you begin to give yourself permission to have some joy in your life, you won't be on the hunt for those sweet foods to do the trick! 

Spicy: Five stars, “Thai hot”, hot sauce…those who like spicy food, even to the point at which their eyes well up with tears, are most likely looking for intensity and action in their lives. They may feel bored to tears when their real craving is to be crying for joy and excitement because of the adventurous person they are. These types of folks love to be on the go - going to movies, plays, theatre, traveling to distant countries, exploring new restaurants. When they haven't made the time to do these things, spicy food becomes the kick to “get them going”. In addition to creating action, spicy foods also rev the imagination and our ability to be intuitive, so when you get the urge to eat spicy, start thinking of ways to “spice up” your life using your intuition. Let your imagination go wild. What are small steps that you can change to give you the shift you need to feel “alive”? Trying stepping out there to take a dance class that you haven't tried before, like Zumba, or even venturing out to the latest blockbuster action movie!

Salty: In my experience, I've noticed that there are the people who crave sweet foods, and those who never go near sweet foods, but they can't stay away from salt - salty snacks, drinks, and even sprinkling salt on foods. Salt does an interesting thing in our bodies: it attracts water. When we eat lots of salt, we move the water in our bodies with it. The salt is like a magnet for movement and flow, which is important for helping people to “go with the flow” of life and relax. If we overdo salty foods, we may be prone to high blood pressure, or the opposite end of that relaxing continuum, creating stress and tightness.  Rather than indulge in the sprinkling of salt, find ways that you can sink into the moments of life and reflect. When you get a salt craving, try doing something to relax you, like deep breathing, taking a run, or meditating. You may even want to try watercolor painting - using the water and paint to flow with your creativity!

Caffeine: Cravings for caffeine are similar to those for spicy foods in that there is a push to “come alive”. However, with caffeine, it's a different type of “aliveness” - people who crave spicy foods need this wake-up on a physical body level: they need to do something; however, people with cravings for caffeine feel a call to action in their intellect! They want to be there, in the midst of it all, intellectually processing and absorbing all the information they can, and even remembering it so that they can be at the “forefront”. They are the mind jugglers. However, at the core of all that juggling, is mental exhaustion. The caffeine gives the false impression of keeping it all together and being mentally sharp, but in actuality, it exhausts us further, especially in excessive amounts throughout the day. Rather than that next couple of coffee or soft drink, give your mind a break and get some extra rest. Try taking a nap or going to bed early - then you'll really be able to concentrate!

Crunchy/crispy foods: Crunch, crunch. Those people with crunchy food cravings are not as much about the taste of the food as they are searching for a particular texture. The crunch and crispiness of foods gets them to be noticed - with every crunch, it's a subtle cry of “hey, look at me!” and there may be a variety of reasons behind needing attention. Maybe there's something they are trying to say, but can't. Perhaps they are angry and want to “snap” back at someone, but they feel restrained. They might also feel that they need a “pat” on the back for a job well done. Crunchy foods give you the fake center stage. When you feel called to be in the spotlight to speak your truth or to make something known, rather than tune into crunchy foods, see if you can understand what you really want to say. Write your words in a journal, and when you feel safe and ready, try to express what you have been bottling within in a manner that is a win-win for all.

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