Does food make you an introvert?

by Sandra Radja

Food as medicine is known, and we usually think about the body in this respect.  You probably haven't heard someone say - hey, you know I'm feeling introverted these days, tending on withdrawal from society and family and friends, I'm going to introduce some pungent herbs and probably a little more salt in the meal tonight, you guys mind? 

Probably not right? The major mind categories seem to be anger (go to counselling), addiction (go to counselling), anxiety (take a xanax, preferably with champagne), and depression (counselling, various medications to see what works, exercise, change your job or your relationship).

How about what you eat?

As a side note, there is that documentary called the medicated child . It's heartbreaking. Parents not knowing what to do, doctors giving labels of bipolar as young as 2.  Drugs and more drugs until they start to totally fuck up the kid and then move to Colorado where the kid does meditation and yoga and seems to be on the mend - phew. 

It was an interesting documentary but one thing they rarely commented on was the food the kid ate. We are watching a mama tell the camera that the doctor told her it was the only way, she had no choice but to medicate her child.  And we see the kid in the background eating PURE CRAP. No questions on the food the child was eating. So the documentary is 50% complete - but it's a good effort.

Your food will affect your mind state. In thinking about representing this idea I decided to concentrate on the ideas of extrovert and introvert.  People will inherently decide they are one or the other. And this may account for whether you have certain natural qualities in your constitution tending toward heat or cold - heat being expanding and cold being contracting. Moist (sensual) or dry (withdrawn) may also be distinctions. As an extreme example, think the spicy and passionate Latino with the chillies vs the white sandwich English bread.  One tends toward outer expression, wild and bright eyed and one toward inner composure as their claim to culture.

When Prana (joy), Tejas (discernment and easy decisions) and Ojas (the 'shit happens' mentality) are in balance in a person, you rarely think of them as being introverted or extroverted, they just seem to be in balance, utilizing both skills as needed.  The concept of introversion/extroversion seems to imply a reaction to others in relation to your tendencies. Balanced PTO is borne from within; the mind acting in it's appropriate role as reflector.

So the next time you're feeling withdrawn check on your food.  Too many dry crackers, hard to digest beans, salads, white bread, raw food?  All these items are cold, rough, dry and embody a contracting element to them.  To bring yourself out, spice up your life, bring in a little fermented products like chutneys to increase your digestive fire and add some salt. Salt brings out the flavour in food and will bring out the flavour in your life.  It will also hold some water in your system so you can 'go with the flow'.  Building up the earth, water and fire is your ticket to balance in this instance as it relates to the Vata dosha.  Kapha qualities of heavy, cold and thick can also cause introversion as the heavy qualities, like yoghurt, are hard to move.  The congestion that builds up blocks prana from moving through the system and stagnates causing slow impulses in digestion and mind.  In this instance some movement, like vigorous exercise can help to get the flow going again.  I do, however, believe that pure introversion is a Vata disorder as Kapha does love to nurture and hold onto people and needs to be led.

On the other hand, to complete the picture, if you find yourself being too outward and craving more and more sensory stimulants to feel alive, then the contracting qualities of bitter ,astringent might help as well as the mildly sedating qualities of slow releasing sweet.

Severe introversion and being quiet in your mind are two different modes of being.  One has an element of fear and tends toward depletion, afraid to let others in lest they lose their ground. The other can be anywhere and with anyone and not feel disturbed by their presence. 

Joy. Discernment. Contentment. One size fits all.