Bipolarity - Taste Cravings and Satisfaction

Marcia Purse Health Guide
  • I've been told, anecdotally, that people with bipolar disorder crave salt. That's certainly true for me. I add salt to foods described as already containing too much sodium.


    I also crave the sweet things that are the worst things for someone with diabetes. In the past I've had times where I'd eat four to six Three Musketeers bars a day, or an entire bag of Raisinets after coming home from work. Now I generally have red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting for breakfast.


    For a long time the four basic tastes were sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Scientists have now added umami to the basic tastes which, as far as I can determine, just means "delicious." Ayurvedic medicine goes in a different direction, adding pungent (hot and spicy) and astringent (dry and tart). Tart is another favorite of mine - I add vinegar to spaghetti sauce instead of sugar, as many people do, and I prefer apples and tomatoes to be tangy.

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    In talking with other people who have bipolar, I've found that the favorite tastes are generally salty and sweet, like mine. Satisfying these cravings, though, can be bad for your health, especially when the "delicious" foods you love take a lot of preparation. Take one of my favorites, Brussels sprouts, for example - frozen ones are godawful, and fresh require a lot of cutting up and careful cooking, especially when you don't own a steamer. I ruined a batch just last week when all the water boiled away. (By the way, I have no idea whether buttered Brussels sprouts scientifically taste umami. A lot of people just find them bitter.)


    So - a very unscientific poll: Do you find your diet leaning toward specific tastes? And what foods do you find umami - delicious - that don't fit in with the tastes you crave? Let's see whether salty actually comes out on top.

Published On: September 19, 2011