9 Foods That Can Cause Anger, Anxiety, And Spaciness, According To Eastern Medicine
Eastern Medicine, which can include things like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TMC), often looks at nutrition and foods that affect your mood — as well as your health in general. "Food in Chinese medicine has many qualities to it," Elizabeth Trattner, a Chinese and Integrative Medicine expert, tells Bustle. "First a food can be categorized by its tastes and corresponds to an organ system in TCM. Food also has a thermodynamic energy to it." That's why, for example, cold foods may be avoided in order to correct an imbalance. For TCM, achieving balance is key for health and wellness.
Ayurveda, which originated in India, has a similar philosophy. "Ayurveda understands our bodies as being a careful balance of elemental forces: Vata (the wind element), Kapha (the earth and water element), and Pitta (the fire element)," Martha Soffer, expert Ayurvedic healer and founder of Surya Spa, tells Bustle. "Together these elemental forces are called Doshas. When a specific Dosha is aggravated, that aggravation manifests as different physical and mental imbalance or ailment."
When such an imbalance occurs, you might feel more angry, anxious, or spacey. "For example, if you are experiencing aggravated Pitta, meaning excess heat or fire in your body, you might experience physical symptoms like rashes or rosacea as well as emotional symptoms like anger or frustration," Soffer says. "Likewise, if you are experiencing excess Vata or wind, you might experience a sense of mental unease or anxiety. Ayurveda is therefore the practice and science of balancing those elements using a combination of highly personalized Ayurvedic treatments, herbal recommendations, and, of course, diet modifications."
Which is, of course, where the following foods and drinks come into play. Here are a few foods that may cause anger, anxiety, or spaciness, according to Eastern Medicine experts.
1. Tomatoes Can Cause Anger
If you've been feeling angry or frustrated as of late, "it would be Ayurveda’s recommendation to eliminate the foods that cause heat," Soffer says, naming tomatoes as one example. And that's because, in Eastern Medicine, hot foods are often associated with anger, or the fire element Pitta.
But that doesn't necessarily mean you can't have tomatoes, or foods with tomatoes in them, ever again. By adding cooling foods, "like coconut, cilantro, aloe vera" to your diet, it can help to counteract the effects of these "hot" foods, and balance out Pitta.
2. Eggplants Can Cause Anger
For other foods that can disrupt Pitta and lead to anger, think along the lines of anything spicy or acidic. Soffer says coffee, spicy foods, eggplants, "and any other foods that are heating or high in acidity," might lead to feelings of anger or frustration. Minimizing these foods in your diet may do the trick, as can cooling them down with foods like coconut or aloe vera.
3. Greasy Foods Can Cause Anger
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, "each organ system ... has a specific emotion attributed to it," Evan Chait, PT, L.Ac, CNRT, President & Co-Founder of Kinetic PT, tells Bustle. "The liver is anger, lungs are grief/sadness, heart is depression/insomnia, kidneys are fear, and the spleen/pancreas is overthinking/worry. Foods have a direct impact on the function of each organ system and furthermore will affect our emotions."
Eliminating or minimizing foods that affect your liver can help if you are experiencing anger, which may mean cutting back on alcohol. It's also a good idea to eat fewer greasy foods and heavy meats, Trattner tells Bustle. Cigarettes can also lead to anger, because, as Trattner says, tobacco is hot in nature. Everything in moderation to help restore balance.
4. Cauliflower & Broccoli Can Cause Anxiety
For a Vata imbalance, which can lead to anxiety, "one might eliminate foods that cause excess air in the system, so foods like broccoli and cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts," Soffer says. Remember, a Vata imbalance is connected to the wind element in Ayurveda, so it makes sense why you might want to stay away from foods that are known to cause gas and bloating.
That's not to say, however, that you can't or shouldn't eat these foods. When taking Eastern Medicine into account, you may simply want to balance these veggies out with less "airy" options, such as "foods that contain healthy fats, like avocados, uncooked olive oil, [or] ghee," Soffer says.
5. Dried Fruits & Chips Can Cause Anxiety
Other airy foods that can cause Vata imbalance, and possibly lead to feelings of anxiety, are dried foods — which again have that light, airy quality to them. Soffer points to dried fruit and potato chips as examples, but also says foods and drinks that are cold might cause an imbalance here, too. Similarly, reducing these airy foods, and balancing them with the previously mentioned healthy fats can help.
6. Cold Fruits & Salads Can Cause Anxiety
The temperature of food ties into Traditional Chinese Medicine, which pays attention to hot and cold foods, as well as dampness in the body. "Cold and damp foods can cause [imbalances] as it doesn’t allow the free flow of chi [life energy] in the body," says Trattner. "Cold and damp food cause brain fog, [and] cold and damp food can cause anxiety."
So if you've been feeling a bit off, avoid cold foods. "Foods that are cold are fruits, cucumbers, watermelon, and salads," Trattner says. "These can deplete body energy making a person colder, hurting the integrity of the digestive system, leading to brain fog and anxiety."
7. Heavy Foods Can Cause Spaciness
We all have brain fog from time to time. But did you know that, according to Eastern Medicine, some foods can contribute to it, or even make it worse? "If someone were experiencing mental slowness or sluggishness, that could be a Kapha imbalance," Soffer says, pointing to heavy or greasy foods as an example.
And that makes sense, doesn't it? These foods tend to make you feel sleepy after eating them, which certainly doesn't help when you're feeling spacey.
8. Dairy Products Can Cause Spaciness
Dairy products can also lead to brain fog, as all those milks, yogurts, and cheeses can contribute to spaciness. The affects can be balanced, however, with spicier, livelier foods, according to the Ayurvedic tradition.
As Soffer says, "Eat more foods that are energizing like ginger, black pepper, and orange peel, which is lovely as a tea." Once you have a spicier food, you should feel more alert in no time.
9. Refined Flours & Sugars Can Cause Spaciness
According to TCM, brain fog can come about due to consumption of refined flours and sugars. As Trattner says, "Food that is damp, sugar, fried food, and dairy will all cause brain fog. We call this dampness or phlegm. If dampness becomes hot and congeals into phlegm, it will be damp heat and it will affect the mind. This condition will cause people to anger easily and sometimes not make sense when speaking, since phlegm blocks the orifices (the openings in our head) in TCM, [and affects how we think]." If you've been feeling a bit sluggish, it may be a good idea to cut back on white breads and white sugars for awhile if you're looking to go the TCM way, until you feel better.
That said, you should feel free to eat whatever you want, with a focus on the foods that make you feel your best. And hey, that may include the foods listed above. As they say, "everything in moderation." But it doesn't hurt to think about Eastern Medicine, and how incorporating the philosophies of TCM or Ayurveda may help you feel more balanced.