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The good crave. February 23, 2008

Posted by phledge in black bile, family, fat, medical school.

Okay, so I’m really on a challenging journey trying to figure out what my body wants to eat.  It’s hard for a couple of reasons:

  • I’ve been dieting for so damn long that I’m used to someone else telling me what I should eat.
  • I’m in school.  I do not have instantaneous access to nourishing, inexpensive, fresh foods of all varieties.  I am lucky if I can afford Chipotle.  Also, I am stuck in a box for eight hours a day.  I do not have time to cook.
  • My husband and I have very different ideas of how to eat.  I am a grazer; he is a two-squares a day type.
  • I tend toward overeating because, as one of six children, I subconsciously panic that if I don’t eat it all now there will be none left later.  Intellectually I know this is ridiculous.  The hungry child within begs to differ.

I’m also wondering about a lecture I listened to several weeks ago about food intolerance.  One of the core arguments made is that if a patient craves a particular food during a short fruit-juice fast, that food may be responsible for some generalized symptoms; elimination of said food may result in improved health.  I’m not sure how much I buy this, although from an addiction standpoint it begs consideration.  Say I am addicted to nicotine, or alcohol, or Coke (hee, I kill me), and I stop intake of those substances.  Surely the first thing my body does is crave those things!  But how about if I am a menstruating woman who stops eating meat (for whatever reason); as my iron reserves decrease I will very likely start to crave red meat or other iron-rich foods.  How are we to tell when the craving is for our health and when it is for an addiction?  I find it rather silly that someone can claim to be addicted to wheat or dairy or sugar–after all, these foods generally provide for our healthy growth and maintenance.  I’m also a little addled by the concept of addiction, anyway.  Why is it that our infinitely intuitively wise bodies would demand a cigarette, or another beer, or another can of Coke?  Somewhere, somehow, some need in our bodies is being met by these otherwise damaging substances.  But that’s another story for another time.  Suffice it to say, I’m worried that I am not hearing my body correctly.  The foods I eat are not dangerous in and of themselves, and I’m not freaking out that I’m going to get fat! because, heh, I already am.  But I do want to nourish myself, and I’m sad to report that I can’t hear what my body is saying.



1. Piffle - March 1, 2008

Keep listening, remember that the signals may not be very strong, or at least not as strong as all the other voices in your head who’ve been telling you what to eat so far. And it can be a bit wierd what your body wants sometimes, mine wanted tuna salad on a toasted english muffin for breakfast the other day. For me tuna fish is usually a lunch thing, and on bread, not a toasted muffin. For dinner I wanted mahi mahi fried with just a bit of butter and some lemon. Clearly fish was on the menu, I’d guess for the omega-3’s but who knows for certain, there are lots of other things in fish too.

I wonder if it would work when you aren’t sure how to listen to your body to make yourself a variety platter, with some cheese, fruit, vegetables, meats etc. and carefully taste everything to see if your tongue says “Yes!” to any of the things. It’s just an idea, I haven’t tried it. Going to a buffet might do the same sort of thing more easily if you can afford it.

Addiction to foods strikes me as a very strange idea, my usual experience with cravings is that if I really let myself have things, then I get tired of them for a while, sometimes for a very long while. I really overdosed on bananas with peanut butter once and didn’t have it for a couple years after that. I don’t develop a tolerance for them and don’t have to increase the dose or eat them constantly.

With drugs like nicotine, I think they subvert our systems and give false answers to our brains about what is good for us. Our bodies are wise, but not perfect, or cancer, lupus, etc. wouldn’t happen either.

2. phledge - March 1, 2008

OMG, what was I thinking? Of COURSE buffet! I live in fucking Buffet Central Capital of the Whole World. That is an outstanding idea.

What’s fascinating to me about addiction is that we all have, to a lesser or greater extent, the ability to become addicted to something. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that there is genetic preponderance for alcoholism and other addiction disorders, and I wonder if that’s simply a bum gene saying feed me cocaine mmmmm cocaine. And just yesterday our clinical systems lecturer said that every year more and more diseases are being uncovered as autoimmune disorders at their core. So, yeah, there’s lots of ways our bodies can fuck themselves up. I guess I was thinking, or rather feeling, about the spiritual implications as well as the professional philosophy that’s associated with osteopathy. More to learn!

3. ShannonCC - March 1, 2008

I’m not a medical person nor do I play one on tv, but I cut gluten out (for digestive issues which cleared up when I did it) and lo and behold my binging stopped.

What I’ve read (somewhere . . . sorry) is that when you eat a food that is hurting you, your body sends off some sort of hormone (?) to try and help and you get used to the rush of the hormone (adrenelin? I don’t know, it made sense when I read it.). I know a lot of people who figured out their kid’s food issues by looking at what foods the kid HAD to have at every meal. Same idea. It wasn’t the food that made us feel good, it was whatever our body was getting used to when it tried to overcome the pain/badness that food caused.

All I know is that I cut gluten, the binging stopped and then I looked back and holy crap, I sure did eat a TON of gluten before I cut it. Entire loaves of bread, cookies, cake, donuts (baby flavored 😉 Toast, toast, toast. Gluten items were the center of my binges and most cravings. I never would have called it an addiction, I still don’t, but in hindsight it was definitely something going on.

4. lillian64 - March 1, 2008

I’ve heard time and time again about people that are lactose intolerant craving milk. I’m allergic to eggs and there are days that I’m craving them and I have to tell myself that I would get hives if I ate them.

This evening, I have a large craving for oatmeal and I know that I need the fiber so I allowed myself to have as many bowls that I could eat. I think we can crave foods that are good for us and as well as ones that cause us discomfort. and possibly even illness.

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