In Ayurveda and other traditional healing systems, food is life and eating a meal is a sacred practice equipped with specific traditions like chanting, prayer, and lighting of candles. Even the preparation of the meal is a sacred act. Our modern day lives have changed our eating patterns and the sacredness of food itself.
How often do we grab food in a hurry? How often do we eat out? How often do eat emotionally and not think about what our body is really craving? It’s not the sugar we are craving, but the comfort of sharing a meal with our family, friends, and loved ones. Dr. Vasant Lad says, “Food becomes consciousness at a cellular level.” The food we eat, how we eat, and what we eat has a lot to do with how we are feeling. Eating is emotional, and the foods we eat change our consciousness.
Think about it: if you eat a McDonald's meal every day, how would you feel? What about chocolate chip cookies and other sweets? What if you ate a plate of steamed vegetables grown in your own garden with a locally raised organic roast chicken, and sat down with your family or friends and honored the food in community? How would you feel? I know that if I ate McDonald's and sweets everyday I would be very depressed and sick. This is the case of most Americans who eat this way. The energy of the food matters, as does the company with whom we eat.
When you crave something it’s a desire for what is known in Ayurveda as graha - a grasping. We all crave specific foods, but what are we really grasping for? If food is emotional, the food that you crave says something about what you are energetically craving. Craving sugar? Maybe you need more nourishment in your life, or something is missing. Craving coffee and caffeine? Maybe it’s sleep you’re missing. Craving comfort foods like baked goods, stews, and other nourishing foods? Maybe you are feeling imbalanced.
The question to ask yourself when you feel a craving arise is: why am I craving this food? What am I missing? Am I missing the nutrients, or am I really craving something else? What am I feeling when I eat that food? We need to bring the love of food and preparing a meal back into our daily lives. I encourage you to take time to honor your food through preparation, healthy ingredients, and sharing a meal so that eating becomes a sacred act. Through this practice, your cravings will become less as you feed yourself with love.
By Elizabeth Farrell