Can You Live Without Your Cravings?
Do you crave sweets or chocolate or salty or oily/fatty foods? And no matter how hard you try to resist, do you repeatedly yield to “temptation”, then are unhappy and feel you don’t have enough willpower? But what if it’s not a matter of willpower or temptation? What if your body is doing the best it can with what it knows by creating these cravings in order to correct an imbalance? Can you really eliminate cravings and those strong desires for sweets, chocolate, salty, or fatty foods - so you truly don’t miss or even want them? The answer is YES! And you can do so while eating delicious, appealing food that is satisfying and enjoyable, without feeling deprived or denied. However it requires learning how to give your body the healthier foods that it needs by learning to make wiser choices.
It doesn’t matter if you are the most disciplined person in the world. In trying to achieve balance in the quickest way it knows, your body “forces” you to eat these less desirable foods by creating cravings. But how did you get to this point? Why is your body choosing these foods? What is it looking for and what can you do about it?
By introducing healthier foods into your diet and learning to make wiser choices, you enable your body to meet its needs for balance with better quality and healthier foods and can eliminate your cravings for sweets, chocolate, or salty or fatty foods. Our body uses food as fuel for energy, to rebuild and repair the cells in our body, to assist in eliminating toxins from the body, and for emotional nourishment. If the food we eat is of poor quality or lacks balance, our body tries to use its reserves to restore balance. When that is insufficient, it sends us a message by creating a discomfort which we perceive as a craving or symptom of “dis-ease” or distress such as feeling tired, weak, light headed, faint, jittery, or out of sorts. If we are eating junk food, processed foods, meat, and sweets, our body goes for the quick fix by creating a craving for a food that will quickly adjust for an imbalance. However when we are predominantly eating whole grains, vegetables, and legumes in a naturally low fat and low salt diet, our body more readily looks for these healthier foods to bring it back into balance.
A woman who took a number of my cooking classes is a great example of how this change occurs. When she came to the first class, she loved sweets - cookies, cakes, and candy - and didn’t want to stop with one piece. After learning the fundamentals and taking the quick breads and cookies classes, she commented that she was surprised that a single healthier cookie or piece of apple tea loaf or pumpkin bread was very satisfying so she didn’t want more. Then three months later in another class, she was perplexed and confused. She had no desire now for sweets - but couldn’t eat enough brown rice and other whole grains.
So what was happening? All along, her body was looking for carbohydrates that it needs for energy. Initially, her diet was typical of what most Americans eat, so she craved sweets which are simple carbohydrates. But in changing the way she ate to consistently give her body healthier foods, her body realized it felt better and could better meet its needs with the complex carbohydrates of whole grains. So it turned off her desire for sweets and sent a message that it wanted more brown rice!
Even when we are eating a large variety of healthier foods, we need to understand the principles of balance that our body follows. Foods have varying degrees of effect on our body, similar to a pendulum. When we eat foods that have stronger effects, we swing farther out of balance then crave foods at the other extreme to bring us back into balance. Eating a broader range of healthier foods, all in moderation, results in less dramatic changes in our balance and reduces our cravings. Foods that have stronger effects causing us to swing further out of balance include simple sugars (including alcohol and fruit juice), salty food, oily/fatty food, coffee, eggs, and meat, including beef, poultry and pork. In comparison, whole grains, vegetables, and beans have more moderate effects on our body and reduce our need and desire for more extreme foods.
Foods go hand in hand in creating cravings. A person eating foods high in fat will often crave salty foods. Interesting that potato chips meet both needs at the same time - can you eat just one? Or did you ever notice a person choose the low fat, healthier entree at a restaurant with chicken or fish, a salad, potato and green beans or broccoli, then order a fat laden, sugary dessert? Is it indulging or lack of willpower? Or are they responding to their body’s need to create balance with carbohydrates and/or dairy products?
Dairy products are special buffer foods that enable us to realize balance because they contain fat as well as minerals. Depending on our condition of imbalance, we may crave ice cream, butter or cheese. But are they wise choices for creating balance? What impact does dairy have on our body? Dairy creates a mucous condition in our body. Individuals with asthma and sinus problems notice significant improvements when they eliminate dairy from their diets. Dairy can also interfere with female reproductive organs. Many women have seen PMS, menstrual cramps, endometriosis, and even infertility vanish when stop eating dairy products for a few months, only to return when they resume eating dairy again. We are told we need dairy for calcium to prevent osteoporosis. However the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are those which eat the highest amounts of dairy.
There are better sources of calcium which the body can more readily use. It is not the calcium alone that is critical in our body’s ability to utilize the calcium, but its ratio to magnesium and phosphorus. See how much better you feel when you choose more beneficial sources of calcium. Try sesame seeds, dark leafy greens including kale, collards and mustard greens, and sea vegetables such as arame and hijiki which have 8 to 10 times the amount of calcium of dairy products plus loads of other essential vitamins and minerals missing from most diets.
It’s all a matter of choice and priorities. Are you satisfied with being driven from one extreme to another as your body tries to create balance through cravings while you feel tired and weak? Or would you like to have an abundance of energy throughout the day, with a clear head that can concentrate and enables you to handle the details and stresses of modern life with a calm and poised manner? You change your life when you change the way you eat. Is it worth the effort of learning how to make better choices and learn how to prepare these foods? Only you can decide.
Janice Polansky, MBA, MS, works with individuals who want to live a joyful, effective, peaceful life with optimum health. She helps individuals to make healthier food and lifestyle choices and increase self awareness to create healthier, more balanced, and fulfilling lives. Jan combines holistic, natural, Oriental understandings with Western, scientific approaches to health and healing to bring you a unique perspective for understanding how to improve your health and life. Jan has a background in health, natural foods, enzymes, herbs, energy medicine, macrobiotics, essential oils and Oriental medicine. She is certified in enzyme therapy with the Loomis Institute and has studied at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Healing, Himalayan Institute, Vega Center, Kushi Institute and Ann Wigmore Institute. She has a bachelor degree in chemistry and masters degrees in systems analysis and business from Carnegie Mellon University. Janice is a naturopath, Reiki master, and founder of Personal Health Dynamics. Jan provides seminars and consultations based on integrative medicine for individuals and companies to support to a healthier life and way of eating. For information, contact Personal Health Dynamics at 412-492-0767 or Jan@PersonalHealthDynamics.com.
Ó Copyright 1995 Janice M. Polansky Personal Health Dynamics