Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a calling and a craving. Both are insistent and hard to deny. But denying a calling imperils our soul, while denying a craving is sometimes a necessary step toward health. Telling the difference requires careful discernment. Of course, we tend to think of callings in terms of work or creative pursuits, and cravings in terms of foods that are usually bad for us. Who ever felt “called” to the task of devouring a box of Godiva chocolates?
When it comes to food, I find there are two reasons why people experience cravings. The first is lack of enough good quality fat in the diet. (See August 27 blog for more about fat.) A deficiency of fat leaves us feeling empty, unsatisfied, longing for more. More of what, we’re usually not sure, but often we think it must be sugar, the fastest way to trick the body into thinking it has what it needs. Of course sugar doesn’t give the body what it really needs so very quickly we’re craving more. This produces an endless cycle with disastrous results (think diabetes, heart disease, obesity, fatigue, premenstrual syndrome, etc.) So if you struggle with food cravings try including a teaspoon of fat with each meal. I like coconut oil best, but you could also try butter and olive oil. See what happens.
The other reason people have cravings is because of hidden food allergies. There are two kinds of food allergies. The immediate kind cause dramatic reactions such as hives, asthma, and even anaphylactic shock upon contact with the offending food. For instance peanut and shellfish allergies elicit this response in susceptible individuals. People who have these must avoid the allergenic food at all costs. But there are also delayed food allergies that produce less dramatic though equally problematic symptoms. Delayed food allergies set up chronic low-grade inflammation and autoimmune responses. Uncovering this type of food allergy requires detective work. The best way is through a rigorous elimination diet, starting with the most common culprits—wheat, dairy, citrus, soy, corn. There are ample resources available to guide you through this process. The point I want to make here is that these hidden food allergies are often the cause of your most insistent cravings.