The Secret Life of Cravings.
No lie, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “but I love ___” “I cant live without x, y, z”, “my body feels good when I have ___” and a slew of other excuses and justificaitons to protect our food identity and attachment.
I know I’ve dealt with, and clients, family, friends have dealt with and battle cravings. It seems to be like comedian Iliza Sclesinger’s “party goblin” but it’s like our “cravings goblin”.
They lay sleeping, dormant, and its not until we’re tired, run down, upset, sitting down to watch that episode, with friends, had a stressful day, bored - that opening, that she awakens and emerges. Ready to feast. And feast she does. Its like our conscious taps out, and cravings goblin taps in ready to dominate.
But what actually causes us to have cravings? And how can we free ourselves from them, and the yoyo self-disappointment, regret, self-loathing and disgust that comes with it.
We tend to “blame” and shift the responsibility off ourselves, our willpower, our desire to change oncravings. It’s like we blame the cravings for causing us to not have the body we want, to not get what we want done, yet who the fucks buying the stuff that feeds the cravings?!?!!?!?! LIKE IT DIDN’T JUST FALL INTO YOUR FRIDGE, PANTRY OR MOUTH DID IT NOW?! NO. So, the first step to controlling cravings I feel is
GET FUCKING HONEST WITH YOURSELF. Stop trying to dodge the shame, the fact that you’re self-sabotaging, that you’re not as “strong” as you want to be. Why do you choose to engage and buy the foods that feed the cravings? Take ownership (read Jocko Willinck & Lief Babin’s book Extreme Ownership if you have no idea where to start).
Because, here’s the thing about cravings, they are either – psychological,in that we’ve created a pattern that weaves the cravings into a repetitive cycle and its cemented into our brains and behaviours.
Or, they’re – biological, in that the gut microbes in our body are controlling, speaking to our brain, screaming, and your willpower has zero chance against an avalanche of bacteria. Biological also includes nutrient deficiencies. Our bodies innate wisdom is phenomenal, and say you find yourself craving chocolate around your period girls, maybe you need iron? maybe you need magnesium? two minerals that are rich in cacao (the unprocessed version of cocoa.)
Biological cravings essentially create a self-perpetuating cycle that requires intervention to overcome, as when we eat the foods we crave – which usually aren’t broccoli and almonds, they encourage the growth and population of the bacteria that cause the cravings. It’s like they want their food. And their food = processed, simple carbs, sugars, man-made foods. And there’s +10x the number of bacteria than there are human cells, and they communicate to our brain and cells via the Vagus Nerve – which connects our gut and brain.
So even when you’re trying your hardest to resist, you really have fuck all hope if your microbiomes against you. A common sugar-carb craving bacteria is Candida albicans and for girls, it’s the devil that gives us thrush when its overgrowth is out of control. It lives off sugar, and when we feed it, it grows, and wants more sugar and speaks to your brain and says “hey girl, go get yourself some donuts coz you deserve it and I want it”. We laughed at my old job, and named Candida “Cindy” and would call her a slut because she is a thirsty hoe who we’d know when we’d eaten too much sugars – whether naturally occurring from dates, maple, fruit, white flours or from white sugar – that we’d be craving something sweet and so we’d be like “ah Cindy the hoe is hungry” and we’d starve her off and adopt a more higher fat diet and take SB (Saccromyaces boulradii) to help kill her off as a base (as there’s differing levels of candida overgrowth that may require bigger guns such as oregano oil and ATP’s gut relief).
If you’ve watched SuperSize Meyou’ll remember in the beginning how Morgan Spurlock’s struggling to finish, feeling sick, throwing up, having headaches, detesting having to eat every bite. But then something shifted – he started to feel better and crave these foods. Because the microbes had changed, and there’s numerous studies that back this up (1).
To biologically override the cravings, we need to starve off the bad bacteria and encourage the survival of beneficial bacteria via eating real foods. When we start to consume more plant-based foods – vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes and beans - we start to shift the species of bacteria in our guts. I know first hand, that when you start to consume a diet based of plant foods, not only do your cravings completely dissolve, your taste buds and food preferences also change without any conscious input. Like people ask me “don’t you miss x, y, z”. And my god honest truthful answer is no. I cant even fathom downing a Big Mac or chips or Dominos or Cadbury, like there is nothing that I miss or want. My body now knows what its like to thrive and receive the proper nutrients that it doesn’t get confused thinking these foods will deliver it, and I’m woke to the fact that companies just make shit taste delicious to get your dollars and don’t care that you get sick as a result.
It’s also 2018 and we can get a natural, healthy alternative to anything ever. Like you name it, there’s a raw snickers, sprouted fermented burger bun, vegan aioli, potatoes to make chips out of, its like the only barrier is you and your commitment and ownership to overcoming your cravings once and for all. Further down I suggest some easily accessible alternatives to common craving foods.
There’s also a pleather of herbs that can help to rebalance the gut flora, but changing the way you eat comes first. If you want more info on these herbs, please email me
Psychological usually revolves around mouth feel.
We love salt. We love fat. We love sugar. These three wise men (lol) hit the pleasure centres of the brain. This gets dangerous and out of hand, if we’re unaware – that food companies hire scientists and nutritionists to devise and create foods that have the perfect levels of fat, salt and sugar to hit the pleasure centre in the brain – the Nucleus Accumbens.
This pleasure centre is also triggered during orgasms and when we take drugs. It exists for survival – sugar, when found scarcely and seasonally in nature is a quick energy source, and sex, a quick energy source haha are both ideal for survival.
We need to realise that the food companies are taking you advantage of. And that doesn’t sit too well with me, and I hope it doesn’t sit too well with you either.
When we consume the processed, packaged, “fake foods” like the Oreos, Grain Waves, Snickers, Nutella, Pies, Cakes, whatever it is, is our DNA and taste buds being hijacked by food companies, to make their foods addictive so you cant stop buying it. It’s a get rich quick scheme.
And so, when it comes to psychological cravings, like you usually eat chocolate at 4pm at your desk at work, or you usually have that bowl of ice cream as dessert, they’ve become patterned behaviours that we almost do without a second or conscious thought – it’s just what we do. Companies not only make that chocolate and ice cream so damn good you sometimes can’t even just have a little bit, but they want it to become a part of your life, your family, your routine and now they’ve got that customer loyalty – and you identify with that food to “treat” yourself or to make the day a bit better, to help you relax, to give you energy, to help you sleep – whatever you attach it too – it’s comfortable.
When we indulge in these foods, there’s usually some emotional basis, whether it be boredom, sadness, stress, anxiety, happiness, whatever – and our foods comfort us and make us feel good. And we’re trapped in this habitual emotion identity fuelled cycle.
So when that time / activity rolls around, our body expects it. It’s like “yo where it at?!?”. And then, the bacteria, along with the habitual routine that’s burned into your brain, start the “cravings process” – and reminds you of how yum it is and how you feel once you’ve had it, saliva starts to be produced, you start to envision it, your stomach juices start flowing (because our brain is that powerful) and we read these signals as “its time to fulfil that craving”.
We’re creatures of habit. And so, to interrupt this unconscious behaviour, and thus, get a grip on our cravings, we need to:
1. Become conscious.
Interrupt yourself walking to the fridge, opening that draw, driving to go get Ben & Jerry’s, walking down that aisle. Mel Robbin’s has a method of counting down from 5, and then when you reach 1, you make a conscious decision. By creating space between the thought and the act, this gives us time to insert a new habit. Which leads into number 2.
2. Upgrade your treat like a pro.
We all love what we love. And living life without our favourite foods is a sad existence. But instead of being a slave to the microbes in your gut and the food companies, swapping out the over-processed foods for their more nutritious and natural ancestors not only changes your taste buds and food preferences (LEGIT), but it also doesn’t rob you of that time and human-ness.
Love your chocolate? Try Loving Earth, Pana Chocolate, The Chocolate Yogi, choose Lindt 75-90%, look for chocolates that use organic coconut sugar, agave, maple syrup, coconut syrup, rapadura sugar, and use cacao not cocoa.
Love ice cream? There’s Halo Top and Zebra Dream, who use real ingredients and taste amazing.
Love lollies? Chuck some dates in the fridge / freezer, make your own! use gelatin, fruit and stevia,
Love Cheese? Opt. for nut-base cheeses that aren’t processed within an inch of their life (without the casomorphins which is an opioid protein that hits the same receptors as heroin, no joke!).
Love anything sweet and just crave sugar? opt for stevia, xylitol, thaumatin, monk fruit sweetners instead. Also team this with some Chromium Picolinolate to help stabilise blood sugar and thus, cravings also.
Love coca cola? Try kombucha?
Love chips? Opt. for baked not fried, that use a more sustainable oil and don’t add in a pleather of artificial flavours, MSG and numbers. Or bake your own!
Love baked goods? Cakes, biscuits, pies, pastries, breads? Opt for options that resemble mother nature as much as possible. GF, Paleo, RSF options, who use honey and maple syrup and coconut nectar as sweetener, and use buckwheat or gf wholegrain flour and are sprouted, stone ground and fermented (it’s really not at foreign as it may seem).
Love Pizza? Get yourself a wholegrain / gf base boo.
Stacking together the biological approach with the psychological approach is a method to free yourself of cravings. So swapping out the junk food to nutritious alternatives is the key. Consciously reflecting on your food habits and self-sabotaging behaviours and taking ownership can help you to kick your cravings and thrive.
One love xoxo
Martin, F.P.J et al., 2009, ‘Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects’, J. Proteome Res., no. 8, vol. 12, pp 5568–5579, DOI: 10.1021/pr900607v