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Ask Char: How Can I Shake My Cravings?

Reclaiming your vitality through whole foods and herbs

Dear Char: How can I make sense of my cravings for certain foods? I feel so confused!

Great question. I have certainly struggled with this over the years, and I hope that these seven guidelines can help.

#1. Consider the possibility that all cravings come from a dietary fat deficiency. I first heard this from a lecture by Dr Tom Cowan, author of The Fourfold Path to Healing. I resisted this idea, UNTIL I started to pay closer attention to the context of my cravings. Sure enough, not eating enough good quality fats (in the form of olive oil, coconut oil, butter or ghee, lard, nuts and seeds) makes me crave strange foods, like pepperoni pizza! Consuming animal protein can play a role here, too, but fat is just as, if not more, important. Fat satiates the appetite and makes you feel good!

Get this: eating fat promotes oxytocin. Oxytocin is THE hormone of calm, love, and connection and is dominant during labor (where it facilitates contractions) and breastfeeding (where it facilitates bonding). It also opposes the stress response.

When we eat food high in fat, the upper part of the small intestine releases a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK not only activates gall bladder function, it also stimulates the release of oxytocin giving us a feeling of satiety and wellbeing after eating fat.

This insight comes to us from an excellent book titled The Oxytocin Factor by Kerstin Uvnas Moberg.

Good to know, right?

#2. Investigate food allergies. The most common culprits are gluten, dairy, corn and soy. Most people will reveal their food allergies to me in conversation by saying, “I can’t live without THAT!”

Here is what happens: your body wants to maintain balance. When a specific food creates inflammation, the body now has a new set point and will crave the food that is causing a problem. This is no different than an alcoholic or drug user craving their next hit. The only answer is to withdraw the likely foods from the diet and observe your body.

I remember when I first removed gluten from my diet. I couldn’t stop thinking about bread! I would eat and have this vacuous feeling like I hadn’t eaten. My body was waiting for the bread! Fortunately, I knew what was happening and rode the wave. I thanked my body for letting me know what was going on and after a few weeks the cravings passed and all my symptoms improved. My body had a new set point, and I removed the problematic food.

#3. Sugar and caffeine are drugs. If you ingest a drug, expect to crave it. If you crave true freedom, however, remove these substances entirely. With time, your body will adjust to life without them.