Finding Diets That Work

Do you feel like you are addicted to some food? Given that the word “addiction” in this situation may not fit the medical or psychiatric meaning of the word, if you are a person who has had these feelings, you know exactly what I mean.

It’s those cravings you get that are never satisfied. No matter how much of the thing you crave you consume, you always want more. If you’ve got it in the house, you’re in danger of eating it until it is gone, every time. You have to think hard when walking past it in the grocery store to keep yourself from buying it. But sometimes you find an excuse and do anyway.

retro, vintage, home

For many years until quite recently I was addicted to cheese. While I had been a binge eater years back, for the most part cheese was the food that really was still in control of me after I overcame my binge eating.

I had gotten over binging on chocolate candy, having found that the craving for chocolate is not satisfied by milk chocolate, which apparently has little of the active ingredient (cocoa solids). It is mostly milk, sugar, and fat. White chocolate contains no cocoa solids at all. But eating the darkest chocolate would satisfy my cravings.

I even went through a phase where I would eat cheese-flavored potato chips and wash them down with Pepsi. You know, I can’t imagine doing it now, but I remember eating half a 5 ounce bag and drinking half a 20 oz. bottle of pepsi to go with it.

But cheese, yes. I had bought cheese and not only cooked with it, melting it in far greater quantities than I could ever have needed, but cutting it straight off the piece and eating it cold. Cheddar cheese, sharp, extra-sharp, medium, and mild. Swiss cheese, especially baby swiss and lorraine. Cream cheese. Brie, yes brie! Even velveeta, which can serve as a base for a cheese sauce with a wonderful texture. Goat cheese, yes!

Ah, memories of melted cheese. Back during my days of gluten consumption, I would wrap brie and sauteed mushrooms in buttered phyllo dough and bake it until it was wonderfully melty. Pizza with a mix of mozzarella, monterey jack, and fresh parmesan. Lasagna with mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta. So much cheese. And buying sharp cheddar cheese at Sam’s Club in a 5 pound stick, then hacking off 1/2″ slices when I got the urge. Which came often.

If I added up all the cheese I had eaten but (clearly) not needed, and subtracted it from the food that I did eat, it would have been far, far more than the amount of fat I carried with me, even at my heaviest.

So what caused me to crave that cheese and eat it uncontrollably?

The first thing we need to recognize is that it is not always the thing we crave which is what the body needs. There are some deficiencies (iron deficiency, also known as pica) that are well-known for creating cravings entirely unrelated to the deficiency. So a person with an iron deficiency might eat ice, or even clay. Ick, eh? I used to eat ice when I was in high school. I doubt there was a deficiency involved. My mother packed us with vitamin and mineral pills to make sure we were not deficient.

But it is also true that we may not recognize the true nature of our craving. Cravings are an instinct, and for humans instincts are weak and easily culturally-influenced. The craving is a feeling that we may attempt to interpret so we can channel it in a way we believe will satisfy it. But we may choose a food that cannot possibly ever satisfy that craving.

I mentioned binging on chocolate previously. If a person were to crave chocolate and eat a small piece of 90% cocoa solids chocolate, it might very well satisfy that craving entirely. But should that person choose to open a bag of Milky Way or Snickers bars instead, the amount of chocolate contained within is not nearly enough to satisfy the craving, while the sugar and fat will trigger an urge to keep tasting that flavor and feeling that texture in the mouth.

The people who manufacture and market these foods know exactly what they are doing when they market products like this. They are in it to make money, and they really don’t care what happens to you.

Oh, they’d rather you not die from eating their products in large quantities, because you’re a good customer. You are profitable. But it’s all about the money for them.

Now some say that food companies make money from pharmaceutical investments that gives them an incentive to turn more Americans sick and reliant on the drug industry. I’m not saying I believe this is a primary motivation, just that this is interesting.

But getting back to cravings… I had a client who described her craving for protein and chocolate. She would frequently consume large chocolate milkshakes, which contain little protein or chocolate, being mostly carbs. She had been told she was gluten-intolerant, but continued to eat lots of bread products because she kept hearing they are “good for us”. And she was a diabetic. So she was constantly channeling her hunger and cravings into foods that were not only not satisfying them, but actually triggering her health issues and making them worse.

But my cheese addiction… When I started losing weight this past May, I used EFT to help get over my cravings, including my craving for cheese. I began eating less, which means no more between meal snacking, and smaller meals. Of course I wasn’t getting enough calories. And I was fine for a while and no longer craved cheese. Then suddenly I had several episodes of craving and consumed large quantities of meat. What happened?

I decided that all those years I was snacking on cheese I was borderline protein deficient. I craved cheese because it had protein. But it didn’t really have enough protein to keep me satisfied. The calories in cheese are mostly fat. So where if I’d fed myself a large steak or chicken breast, I’d have been satisfied, what happened was I kept being unsatisfied, and kept eating more cheese. And kept getting fatter, and kept feeling out of control.

If you’ve got mad cravings, your body is trying to tell you something.

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