Be Challenged, Be Empowered, Be Fit, Be Nourished, Blog

Appetite and Cravings: LISTEN UP!!

Happy Thursday, you lovely thing, you! I hope this finds you well and knee-deep in plans for a fabulous weekend.

If you’ve been around the Insta-sphere or apparently, in Times Square, you’ve probably heard about Famous Female Celebrity’s partnership with Scary Lollipop Company. In case you haven’t, let me catch you up. A fairly well known hunger suppressing tea company has created a new product; a lollipop of questionable ingredients and even more questionable marketing. Unsurprisingly this new item is targeted solely to women, largely via partnerships with Instafamous females who are the envy teens and women alike. Obviously appetite suppressants have been a thing for ages, and this company is fairly well known in the space, but usually these diet aids have come in the form of snacks, shakes, maybe pills that you take once a day. They haven’t historically been sugar pops with a mystery chemical, specifically designed and marketed to sexualize not eating. The tag line for this colossal horror is “tell your appetite to ‘suck it’!”. Which is a great pun, but a terrifying message.
Guys. This is real. There are hundreds of thousands of girls across the world buying cases of these things to try to convince their bodies that they don’t need food. The company website shows an active feed of names of people who have just done exactly that. Thousands. Thousands of women who are buying the message that the things that they feel in their bodies are wrong. That their internal messages shouldn’t be trusted. That’s astonishingly brazen, and frightening.

While there are so many things wrong with this, I see huge potential for an empowering message, so if you’ll join me…

Appetite

Literally your desire for food, interest in eating things and overall interest in continuing to live by filling yourself with energy creating food. One of the most basic physical impulses is to take in food thereby keeping yourself alive, and there are companies out there advocating that we all tell that impulse to just buzz off. Like, “Nah bro, you can’t trick me into taking care of my physical needs. I’m gonna look like this girl with her photoshopped booty if I just seductively suck on this sugar stick! Hah! Fooled you!” Ever played chicken with that big glowing E that flashes on your dash when you haven’t filled up in a while? Sucking on a lollipop because you just don’t feel like being hungry is exactly the same thing.

Signals from your body are vital! And the more you can listen to them, ask yourself questions about them and see what they respond too, the healthier you will be. When your body is telling you to eat, chances are very good that it needs food. Couple of things: hunger and satiety are regulated by hormones produced in the body in response to food and physiology. Either a physical deficit or poor nutrition can mess with those hormones. If you eat junk, guess what… Your body won’t produce the right hormones to tell you that you’ve had enough and you’ll be hungry. American Chinese food anyone?

The fact that your body is telling you to eat at a time that you think is irrational is a huge indicator that something out of the ordinary is going on, and you should pay attention, not ignore it and try to cover it up with a tea/pill/gum/patch/lollipop. Phase of menstrual cycle, activity level, stress, time of the year, emotional distress, you guys know what makes you an insatiable food vacuum. Those are times to take note and make changes. Add some more fats, try getting more fresh fruits and vegetables, experiment with legumes or proteins, do something to show your body that you hear it, and will do what you can to fuel it properly. This is honestly how bodies become healthy. When you starve yourself and don’t respond to internal cues for nutritional needs, your poor systems get panicky and freak out at the next opportunity to get food. Wanna gain 10 pounds? Try ignoring your appetite for a week.

Cravings

As an adult woman who has been conditioned to question messages from my body, I can understand that the idea of these supplements is to curb those cravings that come on when you’ve finished dinner and a cheesecake sounds nice. “Hey lady, you walked past a bakery and the wafting scents of vanilla and frosting are seriously cramping your post workout vibe? Here’s a tasty little lollipop to help you stick to your goals!” You know those days when you’re just going along doing you and all of a sudden you can’t get the idea of snickerdoodles out of your head? I mean, yeah, who am I kidding, no one needs an explanation of a craving. Duh.

In the book The Dorito Effect the author tells an incredible story about goats and their cravings, that honestly blew this whole craving thing right open for me. While observing and studying a herd of goats in the wilderness this guy noticed that at certain times the goats would completely deviate from their usual diet for a period of time only to return shortly after and never eat that plant again. Research indicated that the goats who sought out the dietary change needed a certain nutrient and were literally craving the plant that held it. When they had what they needed the craving went away, and for many turned to permanent reversion.

Our cravings work very similarly. It’s particularly easy to relate when thinking about pregnancy cravings. How many of us have friends, family members or partners who have wanted unusual things while gestating? Pickles, baked potatoes, onions, mushrooms, tacos, I’ve heard a hundred. Those cravings are linked to a food that the body can identify as having the nutrient that you need. For the most part, except that science has kind of whacked out our bodies’ ability to determine some of these.

When we eat highly processed foods that are engineered to taste like a food we unfortunately mess with this brilliant system. Craving Cheetos isn’t a sign that you need Cheetos, sorry. More likely your Cheeto craving is telling you that you need the things that should be in a puffed cheese snack, like protein, fat and carbs.

IMG_0301
Twizzler kabob compliments of Hershey.

I used to get serious cravings for Twizzlers. Due to my fiscal responsibility I knew that it was most cost effective to buy a 1 pound bag rather than the individual snack size, so my cravings usually ended in me sitting on the couch putting a considerable dent in a pound of Twizzlers with some Pull n Peel and probably some chocolate ones, because yeah. After reading Dorito Effect I spent some time with my Twizzler craving to figure out what my brain and body might be needing. I walked into the grocery store and pretty quickly settled on strawberries, immediately getting excited that maybe I wasn’t a horrible creature destined to crave horrendous “foods” a chemical away from packing peanuts for the rest of my chemically shortened life. After about three strawberries I was satiated and beyond happy, and determined to listen to cravings in the future. It isn’t 100% constant, and I’m not saying that all of your cravings will make sense, but giving them their due attention and doing what you can to show your body that you’re on board with keeping it happy and healthy is a huge step in the right direction.

 

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