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Cravings Guide: The Texture-Mood Link

Let's dive into part 2 of our cravings guide series!

We often can have cravings for specific textures - crunchy, soft, creamy, or smooth - and these textures can correlate to different types of emotions. There are two different types of hunger, physical hunger & hedonic hunger. Physical hunger arises from your body's need to eat and hedonic hunger is the desire to eat foods for pleasure.

The body has so much wisdom; it communicates with us all the time, but we often don't try to listen. Our food cravings are a source of valuable education. Individuals are drawn to certain textures, fat content, flavors and smells of different foods for a variety of reasons. Below are different kinds of food cravings and what they are trying to tell us.

Soft + Creamy Textures: inwardly directed energy

A craving for soft + creamy can occur when we are angry at ourselves or have a deep longing for comfort and reassurance. When we crave these foods, we are feeling soft emotions, such as anxiety, betrayal, depression, embarrassment, fear, grief, insecurity, regret, sadness, self doubt and/or shame. Soft and creamy textures, found in dishes like mashed potatoes, ice cream, or pudding, often evoke feelings of comfort and security. These textures can transport us back to nurturing experiences, reminding us of the warmth and coziness associated with being comforted as a child.

Crunchy Textures: outwardly directed energy

A desire for crunch can occur when we want to scream, get back at others that have hurt us or feel like we are being controlled by external factors of life (i.e., busy work schedule, demanding family life, not setting strong boundaries, etc.)  When we crave crunchy food, we are feeling hard emotions, such as anger, bitterness, frustration, resentment, stress and/or tension. The satisfying crunch of foods like chips, crackers, or raw vegetables isn't just a treat for the taste buds; it can also be a stress-relief mechanism. Chewing on something crunchy provides a physical release of tension, while the noise associated with these textures can act as an outlet for stress and frustration.

Smooth Textures: Indulgence and Pleasure

Wanting something that is smooth can occur when we are seeking a more blissful, care-free experience in life. Oftentimes in our everyday lives we have to be serious like getting work done at our jobs, running dull but necessary household errands, saving money, being responsible, etc. So, we want to escape that and smooth textures found in chocolates, creamy sauces, and silky desserts are often linked to indulgence and reward. The richness and smoothness can trigger the release of pleasure-inducing chemicals in the brain, contributing to positive emotions and an overall sense of satisfaction.

Chewy + Gummy Textures: Rumination and boredom

An urge to have something chewy can occur when we are feeling indecisive, in a state of denial, or feeling bored. The sensation of having to repeatedly chomp up and down when a food is chewy or gummy gives your mind something else to focus on. So if you are feeling like you can't make a decision about something, unwilling to face a certain truth about a particular situation in your life, feeling bored or even insecure, the brain can try to give itself an easy way out through distraction.

Understanding the emotional connection between texture cravings and mood is a step towards mindful eating. While these associations provide insights into general patterns, it's essential to recognize the individual nature of our preferences. Factors like cultural background, personal experiences, and even physiological influences can all contribute to our unique relationship with food textures. These of course are not everyone's experiences and may not be the case every single time, but they can serve as clues for us to dig a little deeper and unfold behavioral patterns. If we are able to feed our emotions, aka actually sitting with the emotion in our bodies and allowing it to process through, we can prevent situations of habitual overeating when we don't want it to happen.

Next time you find yourself craving a particular texture, take a moment to reflect on the emotions it may be tied to. Whether it's the need for comfort, a stress-relief outlet, or a desire for indulgence, embracing a mindful approach to your food choices can enhance both your culinary experience and overall well-being. If you find that your texture cravings significantly impact your emotional health, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals or registered dietitians can provide valuable insights and support. Next blog, I'll go into explanations behind different nutrients and their links to food cravings!

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