Sunday, February 11, 2007

Food Glorious Food

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It's kind of ironic this post should follow on from one on The Biggest Loser.

Dr. Deborah Serani wrote earlier this week about the role of the insula in addictions and cravings. Very interesting and oh so timely. If only Deborah had included instructions on how to turn the insula off. Mine appears to be in overdrive.

Friday, I started a full elimination diet. Five weeks of rice, pears, chicken, beef and not much else. Two days later, I have full on cravings, even for things I wouldn't normally give the time of day. That gluten free loaf that wouldn't be out of place on a building site? The black cherries that appear to have put on a fur coat in the cold of the fridge? Even the cat food smells delicious. According to my insula, it's open season on just about anything.

The goal of this radical diet (under medical supervision) is to explore food intolerances. Cravings can apparently play an interesting role in intolerances. Often the foods you crave the most are the very foods creating a problem. Intolerances differ from allergies. Normally you can return to a problem food in moderation, once individual thresholds for tolerance are established.

For cravings in general, which are usually related to a specific food, there are all kinds of theories. A common belief is that the particular craving represents a deficiency in the diet and the craving is the body's way of signalling it. If that were the case, wouldn't we all crave a nice head of broccoli? Or the much maligned brussel sprout? Most people crave sugary, fatty foods. Let's face it, they taste better.

Helpful hints to avoid cravings include eating a variety of foods (sigh), waiting 15 minutes before considering caving in and, the old reliable, distraction. Hmm. Something like blogging? Riiiiighht.

Maybe I'll just eat this blog instead?


Alison said...

I've just finished a detox diet/program. It was a seven day job, I went for four. I was happy enough with that as I found it really hard! I bought my kids a pizza during the diet and found myself stroking the edges of it, looking at it lovingly until Anna stopped me by calling,"Mum!" I swung around, guilty. "You really want that pizza don't you?" Yes Anna, I said solemly. I do really want that pizza.

Actually the insula stuff is fascinating, I was reading about it over at Mind Hacks last week.

HP said...

Hi Alison,
I laughed so loud at your pizza antics. I so identify with that!

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Wow, you and Alison are braver than I. I hope you find the experience meaningful and helpful.

And it would be something to help offset my insula a tad too. Not all the way though, because well, we NEED it. But just enough so I can find some willpower!

jumpinginpuddles said...

we find eating an apple helps.

HP said...

Hi Deborah,
Thanks. Agreed. It would be useful to have the equivalent of a 'dimmer' switch!

Hey JIP,
Apples are great for cravings. I have a bowl full of lovely smelling apples - sadly also off limits currently.

Psychosomartyr said...

I've just written something on food intolerance, then I nipped across here and so have you - albeit from an interesting and different perspective.

I liked the comment about the loaf and cherries. One of my favourite lines from a novel that I read years ago was along the lines of, "Having discarded the Battenburg Cake 3 days previously in a fit of dieting virtue, I wouldn't want you to think that I'm the sort of person who eats elderly Battenburg from the bin. So, please avert your eyes for the next few lines".