Why Do We Crave Pumpkin Spice Lattes?

Viewing a Modern Phenomenon Through a 6000-Year-Old lens

This year, I noticed the exact moment when I started craving copious amounts of cinnamon on everything. I’ve loved cinnamon for a while — cinnamon teas, on oatmeal, in smoothies, on meat, you name it. But I hadn’t even thought of it all summer … until autumn hit.

No one craves pumpkin spice lattes in August; that sounds dreadful, hot and heavy. So I turned to the ancient science of Ayurveda to find what really makes us crave pumpkin spice.

Seasonal Change

After months of 90+ degree weather, we crave brisk air and sweater weather. But this change comes quick. The days become shorter and the temperature drops, all while you’re readjusting to the school season. After a summer of endless days, this is a shock for the body.

Our bodies scramble to protect ourselves from heat loss. Like trees, we begin to pull energy from our extremities into our core. Trees pull their sap inwards, causing the leaves to die and drop. The cold also causes to pull blood flow centrally, or vasoconstriction. The more blood on the surface in our extremities, the more we lose heat.

With reduced blood flow, our muscles feel more tired, and spending a night curled up on the couch starts to sound better. The muscles of the digestive system become sluggish as well, and are sensitive to stress.

In Ayurvedic theory, the key to immunity and health is keeping the nervous system stable throughout change. This means consuming grounding foods and relaxing to let the body thicken its skin to prepare for winter. Irregular meals, a rigorous social life, and staying up late is a recipe for more stress and depletion in autumn.

Why Do We Crave Pumpkin Spice Lattes?

Wise Cravings

In order to keep balance, we intuitively crave warming spices. Pumpkin pie spice is made up of four ancient warming spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.

These spices combat every aforementioned problem: cinnamon and ginger boost circulation to the extremities, warm the core, and are an expectorant for sluggish mucus congestion; nutmeg is a mild sedative, reducing stress. Cinnamon also keeps blood sugar and insulin response more stable, making it very beneficial in desserts.

Pumpkin itself is grounding, full of vitamins and calm-inducing properties. Combined with these spices, pumpkin spice anything can help digestion and lessen gas issues.

Nostalgia

For many of us, autumn feels like an old familiar friend. We connect this time to warming up with family, sharing meals and good feelings.

Unlike any other sense we have, smell goes directly to our limbic system (our emotional center) before any other processing. So we have a direct, unconscious connection between smell and the memories associated. 80 percent of flavor is smell. Add sugar into that equation, and that’s as addictive as it gets.

This trifecta of stress on the body, intuitive cravings, plus sugar-heightened nostalgia definitely validates the pumpkin spice craze. So listen to your cravings! But remember to reduce sugar and find healthier options whenever you can. Here’s a recipe to get you started.

Why Do We Crave Pumpkin Spice Lattes?

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

1 cup coconut or almond milk

½ cup organic coffee

2 tbsp pumpkin puree

½ tsp pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp vanilla

2-4 drops of liquid stevia (or sweetener of choice)

1 pinch salt

1 tbsp cannabis butter (optional, of course)

Warm coconut milk and coffee together. Blend in all ingredients with an immersion blender or countertop blender. Pour into a mug, sprinkle cinnamon on top and enjoy!

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