by Calhoun Stallings
Questions about food cravings are routine in my work with people. Most people believe cravings are a bad thing. They feel out of control or controlled by the urge to eat ice cream or hot dogs or pickles. It doesn't matter the food; the belief is cravings are wrong, unless you are pregnant. Cravings are not wrong. They just are. To the conscious practioner of personal awareness persistent cravings provide a great clue to what your body, mind, spirit or all three need for balance and growth. The persistence of cravings is due to recurring imbalance. Ice cream cravings are a great example of satisfaction breeding dissatisfaction.
Ice cream is cold. Cold feels good as it takes the heat out of inflammation. Pasteurized dairy produces mucus which coats the inflamed areas. Mucus makes us feel sluggish. Sugar gives us easy energy; sugar produces inflammation. Cold feels good on inflammation. Mucus coats inflammed tissues; coated tissues have a hard time absorbing nutrients to fuel the body. Sugar is easy to digest for energy. Sugar causes inflammation. Cold feels good; cold slows down the metabolism. Unmetabolized food causes inflammation. Cold feels good and sugar gives fast energy. Is it any surprise that eating ice cream could cause a persistent craving for ice cream? Your appetite is not a broken record. It is an unfullfilled request. Cravings should be respected, inspected and the subject of experimentation.
I worked with a woman who had been losing her hearing for 10 years. She wore an obvious and bulky hearing device. Getting help with her hearing was why she came to me. She paid close attention to her diet and upgraded it regularly. She was very proactive in her healing process; I was a mere accessory, as I should be. Her food healing had to do with pickles. When we started working together, she was not craving pickles. Pickles were not part of her conscious eating plan. I told her that I was 'getting' that she should eat pickles and that I did not know why. She immediately softened and told me about homemade pickles that were a family tradition. It turns out that her hearing was at its worst around her family. Enjoying the memory and some actual pickles was a big turning point for her hearing. Five months after our first meeting she was hearing aid free and happily relating to her sister again.
A friend of mine confessed to craving hot dogs. It immediately occurred to me to recommend she try black eyed peas. Her eyes lit up; she loves black eyed peas. She investigated the ingredients of the hot dogs she craved and noticed paprika. On researching paprika, she recognized that black eyed peas had some of the same health enhancing qualities.
One day after grueling hours of working on a research assignment with hours to go and a looming deadline, I really wanted a BEER. I texted my beer buddy, who happens to be my editor. She suggested a short walk, a lavendar bath or chamomile tea. I had immediate respect for her recommendations as I knew her to be both intuitive and happy to have beer with me. I opted for the chamomile tea. I was amazed at the wonderous effect. I felt completely rebalanced, not sleepy and more importantly not derailed from being able to accomplish my task on time.
People are not broken, they are amazing! If someone is in a food rut, I recommend trying a little intuitive research. After all scientist proclaim the gut as the second brain; it is considered the home of 'gut instinct'. How we know what we don't know we know. Give the gut some respect. Lighten up on the judgement. Good research starts with a question, not an answer. Cultivate curiosity, because the body is wonderfully intelligent and endlessly amazing. It is not necessary to study the human body for years in an institution. The best teacher an individual can hope for is personal experience and conscious experimentation. The time to start is now. In building a relationship with your appetite, I advise to start with deep listening. When you crave a food, what do you get from eating it? Experiment. Are there other food choices that might offer that and more? When relating to cravings consider that appetite is not broken, it is merely misunderstood.