The Spiritual Meaning Behind My Cravings

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Think about what you crave on a regular basis. Do you have a sweet tooth and just need chocolate sometimes? Do you relentlessly pursue a bag of chips or a bowl of pasta? Have you ever wondered why you have those cravings in the first place or if your cravings could be a hidden message from your body about what you really need?

I used to experience major cravings. For years it seemed like I only wanted to eat greasy, fried, cheesy, or sweet foods, which I knew I wasn’t “supposed” to be eating, but I would convince myself that it was what my body needed. What I didn’t realize was how powerful my thoughts were. Once I started becoming aware of what my body, not my mind, truly wanted my cravings started making sense.

Our bodies are very smart, they know how to maintain an optimal state of balance. I’m always fascinated by how my body tells me when I need to rest, when I need to drink more water, when I am hungry or too full, when I am cold, it even tells me when I’m experiencing too much stress.

The meaning behind my cravings

Cravings mean that the body is missing something, it's a way that it communicates with us. We are programmed to view cravings as a weakness, but really, they are an important message meant to assist us in maintaining balance within our bodies. It is just a matter of interpreting those messages so that you can give your body what will truly nourish it.

You also have to understand that cravings are not always what they seem when we consider them in a spiritual sense. At times cravings that appear to be an honest message from the body— may actually be the opposite of what we need to heal. I’ve learned that cravings can show up when my vulnerability is triggered, or to appease self-negating eating habits and insecurity.

Bellow are 3 of my biggest cravings and what I’ve learned over the years about their meaning and some of my go to tips for reducing cravings and cultivating nourishment in my body.

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1- Sweetness

A craving for sugary things relates on a physical level of the cells of the body not getting enough energy. Sugar is a quick source of energy, and the body knows this. Reduced cellular energy production can occur because of a lack of minerals necessary for proper insulin secretion and sensitivity (chromium, magnesium and zinc are often low in nearly everyone, and can really help reduce your desire for sugars and other carbohydrates), or a fatty acid deficiency resulting in faulty intracellular communication.

But over the years it has occurred to me that sweetness as an emotional experience is often craved when I’m unable to process sadness; this would mean that hoping to temporarily cover up my low points with a little burst of a sugar high. Whether I view this experience on a biochemical level (relating the experience to a lack of serotonin, a pleasure-oriented neurotransmitter that is low when I’m sad, but stimulated by sweet flavours) or on a more spiritual view (that I’m quite literally looking for a “sweet” experiences in my life, which also stimulate serotonin release) makes all the difference in the world. On a physical level, I must eat something, while spiritually that craving could be satisfied by any number of enjoyable life experiences.

The challenge for me has always been to see whether the craving could be satisfied by taking a hot bath or getting a massage, or by sitting in natural settings and letting the beauty of the world sink in.

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2- Salty

A craving for saltiness is often physically associated with the kidneys, adrenals and the water balance they control in the body.

When stress is present and intense for long enough, the adrenal glands become exhausted and reduce the creation of aldosterone, a hormone that helps to retain sodium. Individuals with high stress levels will therefore often crave salt because their body is attempting to replenish what’s lost. Adrenal support in the form of bioavailable vitamin B5, adaptogenic herbs (Rhodiola, Siberian Ginseng, Holy Basil and others) or even adrenal glandulars may help to repair and rebalance the neuroendocrine system and reduce salt cravings, as will stress reduction and yoga. A craving for salt may be related to iodine deficiency as well, as it is the body’s way of calling out for natural sea-based minerals.

Lately my salt cravings are an indication that I’m trying to “solidify” myself because I’m overwhelmed and afraid; which results in me using salt as a mineralized fortification, thinking that the hardness and strength are what I need in order to deal with whatever experience is presenting itself. The problem is that while salt may temporarily fix the water balance and bolster my stress reserves, it does not work in the long term, and the hardness I want to develop only ends up creating resistance in my life.

At the root of my salt craving is the potential to find acceptance without making my stand on life. I find that my cravings for salt can be reduced by me affirming my trust in the process of life; by working on mindfulness and acceptance.

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3- Fatty

Cravings for nut butters (a common one amongst us people that do yoga, for some reason), oils or fried foods often relate to a calcium deficiency. This craving is said to be saturated with fats, specifically as they are necessary to help maintain bone density and keep calcium in the body. Fatty cravings may also be quite straightforward in their motivation, and indicate a physical desire for good quality EFAs for hormonal balance and cellular stability: the oily fishes, borage oil, fresh seed oils.

There is a difference, however, between a gentle craving for good fats and my ability to resist a tub of almond butter in three days…

Fat digestion occurs in the presence of bile, which is manufactured by the liver. When I eat too many fatty foods due to my cravings, as a result of that my upper abdominal area would usually get bloated and uncomfortable. The reason for this is due to my liver being overworked.

I believe my liver is the physical seat of my personal power—the third chakra—it is as though I’m eating these fatty foods because I have yet to accept my own importance, and feel the need to keep the full reality of my power squashed down by physical discomfort. In this instance, my cravings are coming from my wounded ego, looking to perpetuate old hurts and a reduced sense of self worth.

Through understanding ourselves better, it’s possible to see how beautiful our bodies really are, and how much they are capable of. Make it a habit to listen to your body more often.