I’ll cut to the chase on the topic of cravings. Yes, they’re real. No, we (most of us) probably cannot trust them.
Like most explanations about our current state of food & nutrition, this one requires a bit of backing up before we can go forward.
Biologically speaking, hunger is our body’s message to us to eat and cravings are our body’s message to us to eat something specific that has the nutrients (both macro & micro) that it needed for repair and optimal function.
If we cannot trust them, why do cravings even happen in the first place? Is this not a cruel human feature? If we were to go back a few hundred years (or maybe even just a few really important, very industrial decades), we could trust our cravings. The very purpose of a craving (and hunger) is survival. Hunger and cravings are body-intelligence prompting to eat and guiding us toward what our bodies need to be fueled and nourished. Different foods have different flavors because they have different nutrient compositions for – you guessed it – survival!
At their unadulterated (pre-industrialized) core, cravings direct us to eat the foods that are comprised of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, & other goodies) our bodies need for repair and optimal functioning.
In whole, traditional, unprocessed foods, flavor is closely linked with nutrients. Thus, cravings for flavor directed us to the right foods.
Why can’t I trust my cravings?
So, if this is true that cravings are purposeful and meant to inform us, why can’t we trust them? There are likely several explanations:
1-Food is hardly food anymore because through selective hybridization (this isn’t as horrible as it sounds but, over time, it has become a problem), flavor & nutrient values have been altered which might not be that big of an issue (the human body is imbedded with an incredible amount of innate intelligence) except our bodies may have had trouble keeping up the the pace of the changes.
2-Food is NOT food anymore. Somewhere in time our modern thinking about food (coupled with increase demand for food) was that we could manufacture better food than nature could grow in the dirty outdoors. This is not just short sighted…oy, oy, oy… I’ll leave much of the shortsightedness piece for later and concentrate now on the fact that nutrients are complex in ways that our weeeee human little brains don’t understand. The problem here is multifaceted but how it effects our ability to trust our cravings is that in factories, we extrapolated & duplicated (& enhanced – boy did we enhance!) flavor but without the nutrients. Did I mention that the very point of flavor is to direct us to nutrients? Uh…oopsies! And this doesn’t even mention that impact of removing the “dirty” part (oh so much to discuss about food…). Point being, our bodies are confused. We are consuming flavor but not nutrients. No wonder you’re hungry all the time!! Your body is literally starving!
3-Manufactured foods (even those foods that are “fortified”) are engineered to be “addictive“. It’s not about your health. It’s about their profits. The problem, here again, is that the foods aren’t meeting our nutritional needs. They’re only meeting (and increasing) our flavor requirements. But our cravings persist (albeit in a far more confused way because the flavor is there but the nutrients aren’t). Befuddled and confused. But persistent.
4-Most importantly, our cultural norm is to ignore and even silence the wisdom of our bodies. Point in case, symptoms of illness are meant to inform us that something is wrong and needs healing, not that we need a medicine to silence the symptom (which is, indeed, what many medications do).
5-Something yet to be discovered because our human brain in limited…(#truth).
So the question becomes, “what now?”
The answer is simple but not easy. The first step is a no brainer, eat only food from the earth (even if it’s hybridized – which it is! – you’re moving much closer to real food and away from fake & confusing foods) that didn’t pass through a factory.
The second is to start listening to your body. Get to know it. Spend some quiet time exploring what it might be trying to tell you. Unadulterate it. Clean it up. Treat it like the internet, like it knows something you don’t. Like an invaluable resource. Like information you need!
Leave me a comment & tell me what you think…..