Darn food cravings. Most of us have experienced them. When I get a strong craving for chocolate or ice cream, I wonder why I can’t crave broccoli instead. If only vegetable cravings were more common than doughnut or french fry cravings.
Whatever it is that you find yourself craving, have you ever wondered why? Well, it turns out that there may be a deeper reason for your cravings, and figuring out what that trigger is might just help you kick your unhealthy cravings for good! (1)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) follows the belief that if you’re craving something, it means that some part of your body’s energy is out-of-whack. In TCM, each system in the body is associated with a different element. When cravings arise, it might be a sign to look deeper!
What Your Food Cravings May Be Telling You
1. Craving Salty?
The taste of salt corresponds to the water element and kidney energy. A lack of energy flow to the kidneys can bring up a salt craving like no other. Unfortunately, this isn’t because the body actually needs salt. Giving into this craving when there is a kidney issue can lead to fatigue, joint pain, and other health issues. Cravings for salty foods can also mean that stress is taking a toll on your body. Skip the salt and find a way to de-stress instead! (2)
Eat this: Black beans, walnuts, goji berries or seaweed.
2. Craving Spicy?
Spicy food cravings are linked to Metal energy and the lungs. Spicy foods can actually help get rid of pathogens in the body that cause illness. If you’re craving spicy foods, you it might be because your body is telling you that your immune system needs a boost. This is a craving that is good to indulge in, to a point of course. Try to stick with healthier spicy options! (3)
Eat this: Green onion, peppers, garlic and ginger.
3. Craving Bitter?
Bitter cravings are among the least common. These cravings are linked to the Fire element in TCM, which corresponds with heart energy. Bitter foods can dispel heat from the body, which can help with anger, emotional instability, anxiety and insomnia. If you’re craving bitter foods, feel free to give in! Most people don’t include enough bitter foods in their diet. (4)
Eat this: Arugula, Brussel sprouts, Swiss chard and artichokes.
4. Craving Sour?
A craving for sour foods corresponds to the Wood element, which is related to the liver and the gull bladder. A liver imbalance may also lead to cravings of fried and greasy foods. This can be your body’s way of letting you know that you need more essential fatty acids. A liver imbalance may also cause depression, migraines and muscle tightness. Citrus is a great addition to your diet if you find yourself craving sour foods. (5)
Eat this: Blueberries, red beets, tomatoes, avocados, dates, eggs, cranberries and oranges.
5. Craving Sweet?
Sweet cravings are common, and they can mean a variety of things. If you’re craving sweet foods, you may also be experiencing digestive problems, fatigue or trouble sleeping. In TCM, a sweet craving corresponds with a weakness in Earth energy, which is related to the spleen and the stomach. While sugar can temporarily increase your energy, the more you give in to these cravings, the worse your symptoms will get! Chocolate cravings are often associated with deficiencies in magnesium or copper, so you may notice a craving for chocolate around the time of the month that Aunt Flo comes to town. (6)
Eat this: Celery, carrots, garlic, squash, sweet potatoes, bananas, brown rice and dates.