Why is it that sometimes we have healthy cravings (like craving orange juice and ginger tea when coming down with a cold) and sometimes we have unhealthy cravings (like craving sugar, cheese, and carbs when we are depressed)? Why is it that sometimes our body wisdom guides us towards balance, and sometimes our body wisdom guides us further away from balance? When can I trust my cravings and when should I think again?
Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, has an explanation that makes so much sense to me. Ayurveda explains that there are 6 stages of disease (1: Initial imbalance, 2: Build-up, 3: Spreading, 4: Accumulation, 5: Manifestation/Clinical Western medicine diagnosis, 6: Complications/Chronicity). If we are in the first 2 stages of disease, we will experience natural cravings for things that will bring us back into balance. If we are in the last 4 stages of disease, we will experience cravings that will bring us further away from balance because "ama" (waste/toxicity) has built up to such a level that we can not clearly hear and feel our body's wisdom.
So, what are we supposed to do with this Ayurvedic wisdom?
**First of all, remember that according to Ayurvedic wisdom, there is no "good" and "bad" just towards balance and away from balance.**
WHEN YOU ARE IN STAGES 1 OR 2 OF IMBALANCE/DISEASE: Practice paying attention to when you start to feel subtlety out of balance. Don't wait until things get bad to check in with yourself. Is your sleep a little off? Feeling just a little more anxious or sad that usual? Is your digestion feeling a little slower than usual? Is your skin a little dry? Notice these gentle cues and listen to your body. What is your body asking for to come back to balance? Listen.
WHEN YOU ARE IN STAGES 3, 4, 5, OR 6 OF IMBALANCE/DISEASE: If you know you are already off balance, think before you give in to your cravings. Remember that your body might be sending confusing signals about what you need right now. Remember that when you are off balance the things that are bad for you often feel good, and the things that are good for you can feel bad at first. Use your higher knowing and some willpower to make choices that will bring you back to balance and serve you in the long-run.
You know you are on the right track when the things that are balancing for you feel good, and the things that take you off balance feel bad (like you would way rather be doing yoga and going to bed early instead of drinking alcohol and staying up late!).
Cheers to staying in balance and listening to our body wisdom!