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Mind & Body: How Ayurveda Can Help You Control Food Cravings

written by Guest Blogger May 8, 2012

This is an incredibly timely guest post for me: just yesterday I had a huge craving for ice cream! Here’s guest blogger, David Tully, who explains  ancient eastern medicine, Ayurveda, and how understanding our particular digestive constitution can help with our health goals. 

Whenever we have a food craving, we have one of three options to choose from, we can either:


  • Deny ourselves the food, which can be difficult.
  • Give in and allow our body to take the consequences.
  • Find a healthy food substitute.

First of all, it is worth stepping back and understanding why you have a craving in the first place. In our modern world, we are literally showered with advertisements telling us what to do and particularly what to eat. It can be very hard to distinguish what our bodies truly need.

Are we actually hungry or is there a psychological element in play? Generally when hungry, we feel an urge to eat; a craving on the other hand is when you desire a particular food such as a burger or pizza. Cravings can come from many sources, including advertising, but also from deeper emotional issues such as depression. It is critical that you identify why you have this craving and what you decide to do about it.

In Ayurveda, an ancient form of Indian medicine, our relationship with food has particular importance. A balanced diet comes from the ability to understand what your body needs to be healthy, and it isn’t the same for everyone. We all have a different constitution with some able to convert food into energy and digest far more efficiently than others.

In Ayurvedic medicine, there are three “Doshas” which define what type of digestion we have. Vata, Pitta and Kapha all determine our body’s constitution. You can discover your particular Dosha by taking this free Dosha Test.

Understanding our own body’s digestive system gives us a far better understanding of what we should be eating. If we have a craving but are not hungry, we can be mindful because we are aware that eating at that time can disrupt our body’s natural balance and overall health; these cravings are often rooted in emotional disturbances.

On the other hand, cravings accompanied by hunger can be healthy or unhealthy. When your body is in a disturbed state, and you give in to a craving that will only make the disturbance worse, Ayurveda recognizes this as “crime” against the body’s natural intelligence.

For example, a craving for cold ice cream when you have a cold and congestion will only worsen your condition. But if you are aware and able to hear your true inner voice, it can often also create a craving that will help heal your imbalances. For example, a craving for warm soup may help soothe the symptoms of a cold and congestion. As you can see, per Ayurveda, when you have an imbalance, using remedies of the opposite nature can help re-establish balance.

You will definitely assist your body’s natural healing ability if you are both conscious and disciplined to ensure you do not eat the wrong foods, but it takes a lot less will power if you can practice some of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda. Meditation is a very important part of balancing both body and mind. If you are depressed or in a particular emotional state which leads to certain food cravings, meditation can train your mind to calm the cravings. It can also help to manage the emotions behind the cravings.

Also, you do not need to deny yourself the craving all the time. Instead, become conscious of your craving and ask yourself why you want this food and what else you could eat instead. When you practise this moment to moment mindfulness, you will take a big step to improving both your diet and your overall health.

Eating more healthily in accordance with Ayurveda will help to contribute to your overall wellness. Using particular herbs and organic foods which aid digestion to keep your body in balance is the most important thing. Ask yourself, what does your body really need? Keep this in mind the next time you have a craving.

About the Author

David Tully has written many articles on Ayurvedic medicine, many of which can be read at Banyan Botanicals.

Did you take the free Dosha test? What’s your type of digestion?

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Mariana May 9, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Great post! I took the quiz and found that Vata is my predominate dosha, sounds exactly like me. I’m taking a small class on Ayurveda this summer, can’t wait to learn more about it!


Head Health Nutter May 10, 2012 at 10:29 am

Very cool, Mariana, I found out that I predominantly Kapha. And yes, I’d have to agree that it sounds like me!

I have a book by Dr. Chopra, “Perfect Health,” about Ayurveda – might be an interesting read for you before attending your class. 🙂


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