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What Your Cravings Are Telling You

Food cravings have long been dismissed as indulgences or weaknesses in our willpower. However, when viewed through the lens of Eastern Medicine and the Five Elements theory, cravings take on a whole new meaning. The Five Elements – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water – are intricately connected to specific organs in the body. An imbalance in these elements can impact not only the associated organs but also those nearby, leading to various health issues if left unaddressed.

Understanding the Five Elements:

In Chinese medicine, each of the Five Elements corresponds to specific organs and plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of Qi, the vital energy that flows through the body. The Wood element is linked to the liver and gallbladder, Fire to the heart and small intestine, Earth to the spleen and stomach, Metal to the lungs and large intestine, and Water to the kidneys and bladder. When any of these elements are out of balance, the body may send signals in the form of cravings.

Deciphering Cravings:

Surprisingly, even seemingly unhealthy cravings may be a way for your body to communicate its needs. For instance, a strong desire for potato chips could indicate an imbalance in the Water element, particularly affecting the kidneys. Rather than resisting these cravings outright, it is essential to decode the messages your body is sending.

Balancing Cravings with Nourishment:

Resisting cravings entirely may not be the most effective approach. Instead, it’s about choosing foods that not only satisfy your cravings but also nourish your body and support the specific organs associated with the imbalanced element. If you find yourself yearning for potato chips, consider incorporating foods that support the Water element, such as seaweed and black fungus.

In addition to dietary adjustments, traditional Chinese herbs can be powerful allies in restoring balance. Herbs like he shou wu and rehmannia have been used for centuries to tonify the kidneys and enhance overall vitality. Incorporating these herbs into your routine can provide long-term support for the imbalances detected through your cravings.

Listening to Your Body:

The key to addressing cravings from a Five Element and Chinese medicine perspective is to develop a deeper connection with your body. Instead of dismissing cravings as mere indulgences, consider them as cues to pay attention to your internal energy balance. By understanding the association between cravings and the Five Elements, you empower yourself to make choices that not only satisfy your taste buds but also promote holistic well-being.

So what foods and herbs can we include instead of “unhealthy” food groups

  • Sweet (Earth Element, Spleen):
    • Craving: If you have a strong sweet tooth, it may indicate an imbalance in the Earth element.
    • Healthy Option: Opt for naturally sweet foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and fruits. If you are making treats use natural sweeteners or low GI sweeteners such as monk fruit or stevia
    • Herbs: Astragalus, White Atractylodes, Poria
Monk Fruit
White Atractylodes
  • Bitter (Fire Element, Heart):
    • Craving: A craving for bitter flavours might suggest a Fire element imbalance.
    • Healthy Option: Include bitter greens such as kale, arugula, and dandelion greens in your salads. Drink herbal teas with bitter notes like dandelion or chamomile to support digestion.
    • Herbs: Reishi, Rosemary, lemon Balm, Salvia
Duan Wood Reishi
Di Tao Salvia
  • Sour (Wood Element, Liver):
    • Craving: A desire for sour tastes could be linked to an imbalance in the Wood element.
    • Healthy Option: Consume foods like lemons, limes, grapefruits, and fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut. These can help balance the Wood element and support the liver.
    • Herbs: Schisandra, Milk Thistle, Bupleurum
Organic Schisandra Berries – Whole
Wild Harvested Schisandra Berries Extract Powder
  • Spicy/Pungent (Metal Element, Lungs):
    • Craving: A craving for spicy or pungent flavours may indicate a Metal element imbalance.
    • Healthy Option: Include spices like ginger, garlic, onions, and radishes in your meals. These foods can stimulate circulation, support the lungs, and balance the Metal element.
    • Herbs: Cordyceps, Eucalyptus, Licourice
Cordyceps Sinensis
  • Salty (Water Element, Kidneys):
    • Craving: Craving salty foods may suggest an imbalance in the Water element.
    • Healthy Option: Choose naturally salty foods like seaweed, miso, and high-quality sea salt in moderation. Incorporate mineral-rich foods and beans (especially black beans) to nourish the kidneys and support the Water element.
    • Herbs: He Shou Wu, Rehmannia, Goji
He Shou Wu

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