By Matt Stone
Yes! Here I am, taking a break from the joys of?vacation such as?filling out police reports for my car getting broken into and rubbing Calamine lotion all over my Poison Ivy rash-covered body to bring you another homerun. Nah, grand slam. I love it when you call me Big Papi. I don’t mind really.All the National Parks that we drove 5,000 miles round trip to see?are closed anyway. Today, we talk food cravings…
I used to suffer from tremendous food cravings. I thought of myself as being a “sugar addict” in fact, and first went to war against my “sugar addiction” by strictly forbidding myself to eat ice cream (which, interestingly, isn’t that high in sugar’typically 55% fat and 38% sugar as you can read?in this old post). And, thankfully, I found Dr. Mercola and learned the great secret of EFT for sugar cravings. I just tap away at my head and wham, that?”sugar” craving leaves me and?is swiftly replaced by a strong desire for?grassfed beef liver and?interval training.
No, trying to will myself not to eat sugar or throw my cravings under the rug never worked. In fact, they just made the cravings stronger. Worse, my relationship with myself really suffered. Nothing is more defeating than repeatedly failing at something and having no one to blame for that failure other than yourself.
Today, I crave nothing. Ever.And it took no psychological trick, potion, gadget, or anything’silly’to overcome my “weaknesses.” Turns out my body wasn’t weak after all. Just hungry.
You know, hungry. Underfed. Starving. Undernourished. Depleted.
Imagine that! Having cravings for calorie-dense foods that can be absorbed quickly is caused by the body being in a state where it needs?calorie-dense, quickly-absorbed foods!
And cravings can also of course be caused by stress and various forms of emotional malaise, which cause a secretion of harmful?emergency hormones that are stifled by calorie-dense, quickly-absorbed foods. Yet again, the body NEEDS these foods, which is why you develop a craving for them. It’s no different from craving a hot bath when you are cold,?ice cold lemonade when you are sweaty and?dehydrated on a summer day, sex when your balls are overflowing with sperm, or air when you’ve overexerted yourself in a?quick flurry of activity. It’s that simple. At least it is that simple in the vast majority of people I encounter with the vast majority of commonly-craved foods.
If you suffer from tremendous?cravings, you can?probably eliminate these cravings completely and permanently?in a matter of?a few?weeks or months. Sometimes much less. Follow these simple steps:
- Eat what you want to eat instead of what you think you should eat, and do so unapologetically and without guilt. Not just for today, but for days, weeks, and months on end?as consistently as possible.
- Eat as much food as you desire, maybe even a little extra at first if you’ve been trying to eat as little as?you could stand for years.
- Eat regular meals at regular times without skipping. If you never get ravenously hungry, you’ll never develop a strong craving for anything.
- Satisfy all cravings when they arise 110%. So what if you eat 168 Oreo cookies in a week? You won’t eat that many’the second week and may not touch one for two years after the second week.
- Sleep more. Undersleeping puts the body into a chronically-stressed state of being and can heighten cravings for calorie-dense foods. In my experience 8 hours is an underestimation of a “good night’s sleep,” and few even manage to get that much.
- Reduce stress. Easier said than done, and stress creeps in subtly in a variety of ways. But see what you can do. There’s no doubt that being stressed and feeling generally unhappy and unfulfilled can create cravings.
- Don’t overexert yourself physically. Get some exercise, sure. Stay in shape? Hell yes. But nothing will create stronger cravings than really overdoing it on the exercise. This was the primary cause of my severe cravings back in the day. Burning lots of calories through exercise?creates a deficit, and creating a calorie deficit increases appetite for foods that will make up for that deficit most efficiently. I know you think you should create a deficit and lose weight and all, but it’s more likely that your body’s cravings and eager?willingness to store surplus calories is a direct result of?your attempts to create a forced deficit. Stop trying to shortchange yourself on energy and your body will stop craving things that thwart those efforts.
- Stop thinking cravings are bad. They are not bad. They have a purpose and a cause. And if you have developed a strong craving, it’s too late to do anything about it anyway.
Special thanks to Dr. Oz for inspiring this post. Recently he interviewed Cookie Monster on his show and encouraged him to use self control. Screw self control. And, I hate to say it, but screw Cookie Monster, too. Who’shoves cookie after cookie into his mouth and doesn’t get sick of them? If you give into your cravings like?CM does, they go away, except in very rare and extreme cases. But I guess I would be pretty stressed too if I was a furry?blue thing with uncontrollable pupils and?no genitals.
And as a final note, I’m tired of hearing about “sugar addiction.” If people were addicted to sugar they would seek out the richest sources of sugar when they had a craving for something sweet. People don’t drink maple syrup or wake up in the middle of the night to raid the pantry of all the dates and grape juice. They want cookies, chips, pizza, brownies, bacon cheeseburgers, and other things that have a lot more in them than sugar (and that have a lot less sugar than dates, maple syrup,?and grape juice by volume).The theme is calorie-dense and tasty. The body craves energy when it needs energy and knows what packs the biggest punch.
No, you don’t need to go join Overeaters Anonymous if you keep having cravings and eating your face off. In fact, you’re?probably more in need of joining Undereaters Anonymous.
Interestingly,’the word “Overeaters” was not?picked up by spellcheck, but “Undereaters” was, as if there is no such thing as eating too little.Not even in?our vocabulary.There is. Stop doing it.
Alright, getting disjointed and unfocused now. Probably should’ve just ended it on Cookie Monster’s lack of genitals. I’m off to drive across Kansas today, and I’m already starting to develop a wicked craving to see the World’s Largest?Prairie Dog. Prairie Dog Town?here we come!
Hey Matt, I haven’t had any real cravings since I followed wap. At first (when I stopped being afraid) I craved butter like crazy. Could not get enough of it. Hubs would teasingly ask if I was going to eat the whole stick. I think I wanted to. Same with cream. I finally allowed myself to have cream. We made ice cream all the time. After a few years of that the cravings have subsided. And before I ever found wap I craved chocolate. What girl doesn’t? Now, not so much. But I am still trying to heal & lately have wondered that I don’t always know what I want to eat is because I am not healed. On the forum other people have said they have huge appetites. That isn’t me. But, really, no real cravings for me.
Yeah, me too, I don’t have much of an appetite really, but I’m not allowing myself to have any food I want. After years of eating exclusive diets, I developed some uncomfortable food intolerances and I’m still pretty scared about potential effects. At least I started eating sugar and white flour again, and chocolate. That was a major step for me.
Awesomest post evah. And so true. I get in all kinds of trouble when I lose trust…
Hey, I’m first? That’s a first!
Good article, you’ll probably go right mostly when following your cravings, one of the few exceptions I would say when you get a craving for deep fried snacks in vegetable oil, it might be better healthwise to go for something like a sandwich with lots of butter and meat or something. Of course if there was nothing but the vegetable oil snacks I would still eat them rather than starving
I’ve always unapologetically indulged my cravings: everything from rich food, to trashy novels, to afternoon naps. I figured as long as I am basically a responsible person – and live in moderation – it’s okay to do that. Indulging my cravings makes me a happier person and more tolerant of others.
Yes! I find this true, too!
Love this. I still “wonder” why I crave food when I am not hungry and why I wake up in the middle of the night to eat something I won’t eat during the day (because I’m half asleep and that equals half guilt, right?) Maybe today is the day I eat one of those damned delicious prepackaged massive cinnamon rolls sitting on the counter that I stare at and wish I could heat up with butter. UGH. Or maybe, just maybe, have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead of eat PB in the middle of the night and anxiously exercise it off in the morning. My life.
I’m with Linda…I don’t really have any cravings at all anymore after following the advice on this site and in your books. This is a huge blessing after many years of being hyper-focused on food. But now I really don’t feel like eating because nothing much sounds good. I do eat when I’m hungry, but to be honest, I would just rather not be bothered. Maybe that’s partially because my system is still really run-down from an extremely stressful period in my life. But, I just don’t feel drawn to food anymore. Any thoughts on that?
Maybe raised cortisol levels reduce appetite?
Shannon- It sounds to me like the stressful event is still having an effect on your appetite. I encourage you to imagine what you’d enjoy eating, and start by eating that. Stress relief, having fun, watch a funny movie, listen to calming, or upbeat music; and yoga- which is essentially mindful relaxing body movement can all help restore your appetite.
If you don’t eat, you’ll find your body temperatures lowering, and a slower metabolism. Think about yourself as nurturing someone you love and care about…
Yeah the days of telling others what they should eat is long gone thankfully, I sure as heck feel like an idiot in hindsight. Funny how people are so similar, going through the same healthfoodcraze phase telling people what they should eat, I see it in so many people around me
Although it’s fun to bash Mercola (but not EFT! more below), I think you actually missed a chance to make your point more strongly (or at least to make a related point). Although EFT isn’t likely to make you crave liver, it can (at least for that moment) decrease the desire for the sweet stuff. I’ve seen it happen. And it totally makes sense, now that I’m thinking about it from a Peat perspective (at least as long as I’m understanding him right, that is. I’m rather new to this world).
Sugar lowers cortisol
EFT lowers cortisol (there’s at least one study about this; and anyone who’s ever done EFT knows how well it works at reducing stress. I don’t care how ridiculous it looks; it changed my life).
Eating sugar –> lower cravings for sugar
EFT –> lower cravings for sugar
And I suppose it’s possible that if someone consistently used EFT to manage their stress, their overall sugar cravings might diminish as well, since there’d be less cortisol raging in their system. I’ve heard of people doing this. (For my part, I don’t want to lose my desire for cookies–they’re too yummy!)
Anyway, this has nothing to do with the fact that people just need to eat when and what their body says to, but I just had a light bulb come on when I read your post and thought I’d put it out there.
What is EFT?
I don’t look like a loon eating sugar….
You make excellent points about EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). New research is showing that pre and post tapping session make immediate changes in blood chemistry. EFT is tapping on acupuncture points that have been used for centuries in China for medical conditions. This is self-administered, and very effective.
My concern about “cravings” is that sometimes the body will crave something that is bad (I’m NOT saying that sugar is bad) as in the case of heroine/crack/alcohol, etc.
And EFT will really only work when you WANT it to work. If you are not committed to quitting cigarettes, the tapping will not be effective.
EFT can help with stress relief, particularly when you tap on the source of the stress. I use it (and teach it) frequently with great, lasting results.
Lianda, I have tried this but it didn’t work for me. I must be doing something wrong.
I think you are right much of the time. But I know a couple who crave pork and eat it all the time. They are both very sick.
Bible says not to eat that nasty crap.
The problems with pork may be less if it’s not fresh pork or cured with nitrates. See Food Renegade blog, Perfect Health Diet blog, and WAPF website. They all have long articles about the potential problems with pork. The safest way to do pork IMO is “uncured” bacon, sausage, prosciutto (NO nitrates, salt, sugar, celery, spices) OR long marinated pork (like 24 hrs soaked in raw apple cider vinegar). I notice that nitrate “cured” bacon and fresh pork often make me tired or teeth & gums become sore/sensitive/inflamed. I won’t eat lard at all, based on animal studies showing it’s toxic and because the PUFAs are easily damaged, IMO. Leaf lard is more saturated and lower in PUFAs. THat would be best if you insist on using pork fat to cook with, hard to find, but you can probably get a butcher to special order it or find it online from a pastured farm.
Correction: “uncured” with NO nitrates, ONLY salt, sugar, celery, or spices.
Chris Kresser did a post on the nitrates thing. His claim is that the natural stuff in celery etc.. is exactly the same thing, so it’s just no big deal. Also that there are way more in very common vegetables than in bacon. Might be worth a read if it’s stressing you out. Funny how so many people defend bacon.
I love pork, eat it regularly, and see absolutely no problem with it. Pigs have been raised and feasted on for all of recorded civilization, and it remains a major source of protein and fat for billions of people worldwide.
There are religious strictures against pork in Judaism and Islam, and I completely respect the importance of those laws. Most religions practice some form of dietary restriction, which I think plays an important part in community identity. Even in modern, secular society, people organize themselves into social groups based on what they eat (vegan, paleo, ETF, raw, meat&potatoes, pizza&beer, organic, etc.). Still, if one were to guide his or her eating habits based on every religion’s dietary laws, there wouldn’t be much left to eat!
After eating in Korea for just a few weeks (loads of white rice at every meal) I was offered a huge bag of M&Ms. I ate two and just didn’t want anymore. What American cane at two M&Ms? Definitely not me normally.
Then the group of Americans I was with goes on to wonder why the Koreans were always satisfied with fruit for dessert and never wanted to try our French toast, brownies, and other decadent American sweets we would make. We concluded that they were just ecpxtra healthy due to their lifestyle. Thinking back now they seem to ALWAYS: 1. Eat meals at meal times and make sure you have had a meal if you had to skip for some bizarre reason 2. Have all macronutrients at every meal, especially rice. It cannot be a meal without rice. Sure pizza and burgers can be a snack but not a meal without rice (rice and meal are the same word in Korean) 3. Eat until they are full. The only polite way to refuse eating more as a guest is to simply say you are full. No other way of avoiding eating more! They also rarely drink water other than a small Dixie cup of it here and there but have a small 6 oz or so sized glass of water at the end of every meal.
Interesting to see a culture that is so modern still have a sense of listening to their bodies and cultural connection with food.
I’d like to spend some time in Korea one day. A friend went there and said it was the best food she’s ever had in her life for the few weeks she was there. Rice and seafood and veggies and meats and sour things- it was the best.
I could dig on it.
Lived in Bangkok for two years and every single
strret stand is two stars Michelin. Families are cooking and selling the same
plate for generation, big cauldrons cooking overnigh on slow fire,
meat, bones, cartilage, spaces, herbs.. Lots of rice, but also a great variety of noodles, seafood, fruits. I could cry in front of a plate of sticky rice steamed
in a bouillon of hens(boiled for many hours) served with peanuts, ginger, coriander sauce..
I think things are changing in Thailand. Or maybe I just didn’t know where to go. Matt tells me about his awesome food experiences there some years back, but when I went last winter, the food was just ‘ehh.’ Not bad, but nothing really standout either.
Some street vendors were good, others not so much. Reckon maybe I need to learn Thai script next time and go to places that didn’t bother with Roman script.
I didn’t enjoy much Thai food due to morning sickness, but my boyfriend loved it. The best food was in towns that weren’t too westernized…some of the best things we had were coconut seafood soup, banana pancakes, and mango sticky rice. You just have to get to the right places, because a lot is just mediocre.
It probably has changed a lot. I lived in bangkok for 6 months back in 2008, they put teaspoons of MSG in everything! I can’t tolerate MSG so I had to learn how to order without it in thai. Without MSG, the food I loved didn’t taste the same. At all. As if the food had lost its oomph :/
But the fruits are to die for!! Especially jackfruit!
Asian cuisine is not big on desserts – Chinese desserts suck in comparison to some of the decadent shiz dreamed up by the French, Germans, Brits, and Italians. I suspect that is is because of the balanced approach to representing all flavors, textures, and macronutrients in a meal or even each individual dish. Matt, I recall you dissing Thai cuisine as some kind of crack/candy bar disguised as a meal, what with the palm sugar, coconut milk, and fish sauce, etc. What do you say now? Perhaps it is “addictive” because it satisfies our “craving” for all five/six tastes.
I just made the thai chicken coconut soup last night. I couldn’t stop eating it even when I knew I was full. I was thinking, “damn, I never want to just keep eating because something is so damn good anymore, but I can’t stop eating this!” I did stop eventually, but I didn’t want to. It is damn close to my favorite food though. When someone asks me what I feel like eating, that’s what I usually want, or thai food in general. I had really good ingredients including freshly killed completely free range chicken and stock from it. Really glad i didn’t eat it all, because now I get to eat the rest for lunch! Crack-like indeed. And what about that iced tea…
Steven, please share your recipe! I would live on Thai coconut soup as well, but never made it myself. Would love to see how you do it.
My results are actually spotty with that soup. The one I’m eating right now is really good, but it’s not as good as the last one. Part of my problem is I can’t follow a recipe. I usually look at several recipes and then wing it. I know the ingredients pretty well now, but I check anyway. I’ll tell you roughly what I put in it, but I think you’re better off checking youtube. Actually, Matt did a post and video on it once which you can see here… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjKuY4x6W8o It’s actually very fast to make and even if it doesn’t always turn out amazing, it always turns out at least good, so you should totally go for it!
I think it helps to use stock as the base instead of water, but it’s not necessary. I boil the flavoring ingredients with some salt first, lemongrass (non-negotiable, and use a lot, at least three stalks chopped in pieces), citrus leaves (not as necessary as lemongrass, I’ve used lemon zest instead with acceptable results. I don’t usually use the authentic ones, I just pull some leaves off my lemon tree), ginger or galangal (I don’t usually have galangal, but I always use at least ginger and I’ll add a small sprig of rosemary to mimic the resinous taste a galangal. Sounds weird, but it seems to work.), maybe some hot chili and a little black pepper. Once those flavors are spread out in there I add onions (preferably scallions in my considerable opinion) and other vegetable like things in order of cooking time. Mushrooms of almost any kind, and the more kinds the better. summer squash, carrot shreds, ripe pepper (fairly essential to me). Don’t use too many vegetables. Just a few things floating in there is good enough. When those are basically cooked, it’s with the coconut milk (I probably use close to 1/3 coconut milk), and some fish sauce. Go easy on the fish sauce if you’re not used to it. It smells like extract of homeless socks, but it’s pretty good stuff once it blends in. When it comes back up to a boil, add chicken chunks (pref breast and/or thigh) and turn off when those are just cooked. Add lime juice to taste, a little brown sugar if you like it sweet and sprinkle with cilantro. Adjust salt level with salt or fish sauce.
I don’t think I forgot anything too important. I’m not sure yet what combination and quantities of ingredients makes it really amazing sometimes, but I know some mistakes I’ve made a lot. Not enough coconut milk is one of them, and not enough lemongrass is another. Too many vegetables mucking it up is not so great either. Finally, there is no replacement for real chicken. My chickens eat off the land 360 days a year. The only grain they eat to speak of is when they get pasta and bread and stuff in the compost I feed them. They are not the feeble, sick super fast growing breeds that are the sole feedstock of commercial chicken operations. They’re regular laying breeds that grow slow enough for their bones and bodies to keep up. The flavor is rich and the meat is solid and not rubbery. I feel a little sick after eating that fat, rubbery, omega six laden commercial chicken. Organic chickens are usually just the same thing fed with organic grain. Any chicken that is a normal breed which grows slow, and that eats some scraps and green stuff will be really good. If you are fortunate enough to be able to buy real pastured chicken at a farmer’s market or something, it’s generally worth the extra cost if you can afford it.
It’s similar in Japan. You almost never see Japanese people walking along the street eating either. Meals at meal times, sitting down. A lot of Japanese dishes (& Korean, I think) use a balance of sweet and savoury – sugar & salt. Along with the rice and a reasonable amount of fat (on the meat/fish, in the cooking). Western meals tend to focus on the savoury which we then like (need?) to balance out with sweets after the main. At least, that’s my theory on why the Japanese don’t love the rich desserts and sweets that I do. Having said that, they have some awesome, very sweet traditional snacks that go perfectly with green tea!
I’ve found that by drinking more sugar sodas and stuff like that (no high fructose corn syrup), I don’t crave things like chocolate, candy, ice cream, rich desserts, etc. I can take them or leave them. I’ve lost 21 pounds so far & think I will keep losing, because my athletic pants are falling off and my stomach is flatter and I have gained strength and seem to be maintaining muscle. I eat Haagen Dazs and Turkey Hill all natural ice cream whenever I feel like it, but it’s not addictive, I can stop after like a cup or a well-packed cone from Whole foods. I avoid PUFA oils and hydrogenated trans fatty acids, but will eat chicken, lean fish, blanched almonds, dry roasted pistachios, and peanut butter occasionally with no problem or change in how I feel now. I wasn’t always so resilient.
I think when you give the body what it needs abundantly (sugar, salt, saturated fat, mono-unsaturated, protein, vitamins, and minerals), it stops seeing famine and you can lose weight even when eating high sugar, starch, fat, protein, and maybe even moderate alcohol (like 2 drinks a day for men and 1 for women). I restrict nothing and feel better than ever in almost every way. A few problems remain, but the number and severity of problems is decreasing for me and that is a good sign. It’s a puzzle, two steps forward & one back. I don’t buy the idea that you need rice or “5 or 6 flavors.” Many healthy groups didn’t.
I don’t think you NEED rice necessarily. My point is just in a culture that obviously has a diet full of carbohydrate (via rice at every meal) there is generally not a desire for much sugary sweets or decadent desserts.
Reading your comment makes me want to cry. My belly is sooo big & I feel like I am never going to beat this. I just want to start seeing some improvement & start to feel better.
Oops, this response is to Mercury.
I remember tons of street food vendors in Japan. Esp some kind of tasty little pancake made with eggs and seafood, served steaming hot, mmm.
Yup, my sweet tooth food cravings went away when I started eating normal balanced meals 3 times/day to appetite (after weight was restored), and also using enough salt was important. I don’t think people need to eat cookies till they pop to stop cravings. I have learned that if I eat a proper square meal, I don’t want a cookie afterwards. Pretty much the only sweet stuff I eat anymore is fruit, and maybe some maple syrup or brown sugar on oatmeal. Everything else tastes way too sweet. If I do have dessert a bite or two is totally satisfying. Sometimes I’ll want a little candy, and then a handful is perfect. This from the girl who could not control herself around sweets for years and used to binge on butter and sugar mixed up together.
My eating habits are ‘normal’ now and I still love sweets. But I have since I was little, and I’m okay with that. When I started eating cookies again my friends and family were thrilled, because I’ve always liked to bake and eat sweets. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. I don’t really like salty snacks like chips, while others much prefer those over dessert. I very very rarely like fruit, I never buy it because it just goes bad. I guess what I’m trying to say is that people probably have different ‘tastes’ and some love desserts and some can take them or leave them.
Totally. I am definitely a salty foods person. I think enjoying sweets is very different from the types of cravings that accompany an under-nourished state.
Thats interesting. For the past few days since I caught a virus (fun times, fever, swollen glands, and no energy at all.) all I want is super spicy Asian food and white rice. Ever since I have been eating that, my desire for sweets is way down. Is it the starch? Is it the fish sauce in the broth and sauces?
Rice is one food that my body really likes, even better than fruit for carbs. It’s a good day when I start out breakfast with a bowl of it.
Another interesting point – Seth Roberts notes eating pure sugar actually lowers the fat set point and causes weight loss because it has NO FLAVOR. It is the combination referred to as “the bliss point” in manufactured, processed foods that causes problems.
Seth Roberts flavor-calorie association theory of obesity is full of holes like Stephan Guyenet’s (Whole Health Source) palatability theory of obesity. Read Chief Rok and Matt Stone and Danny Roddy (who lost 20 pounds of fat and flab by going from zero-carb to a half gallon of orange juice, plus milk, Mexican Coke, and other foods). I’ve lost 21 pounds so far and think I will lose more by restricting nothing except PUFAs & trans fatty acids (partially hydrogenated fats) and High Fructose Corn Syrup. I can eat HIGH SUGAR (refined and unrefined), HIGH STARCH (potatoes, wheat, rice), HIGH FAT (one or two quarts of whole milk a day, several whole eggs, cheese, fatty meat, macadamia oil, coconut oil) and MODERATE ALCOHOL (one or two drinks, beers, apple ales, 1.5 oz clear vodka/tequila/gin/rum). Seth Roberts probably lost weight from switching to sugar instead of HFCS when he was traveling in Europe, IIRC what he wrote in his blog. His flavor theories are bogus, IMO, and Chief Rok’s. Seth doesn’t look that healthy, IMO, either.
Seth’s problem is that he still thinks the objective is to eat as little as possible, which is also a problem amongst intuitive eating advocates as well. I remember Seth talking about his appetite dropping to 1200 calories per day or something, and how psyched he was about that.
That’s one thing I appreciate about lifting culture- there’s at least a vocal element that’s all about eating big to lift big. It’s cool to brag about needing 3500+ calories per day. Not everyone, of course, but some of those folks are all about getting big and strong and enhancing nutrient partitioning to the point where more food just means more strength, energy and vitality. Seems like a good bridge between physical culture and a focus on health through metabolism.
There’s no doubt that overeating is the easiest way to get really strong (along with lots of weights, of course). I watched some old World’s Strongest Man competitions recently, and those guys are all fat, and incredibly powerful. I have a friend who’s zeroing in on a 400-pound bench, and he’s making progress by eating huge quantities of food. He plans to change his diet to cut the excess fat once he’s achieved his goal.
I was reading about Brian Shaw recently, the reigning world’s strongest man, last I heard, and he is one big dude. Lots of muscle there, but plenty of fat too.
Here’s a clip of him and Olympia winning bodybuilder Phil Heath hanging out at a restaurant. Brian eats 9000-10000 calories per day he mentions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM_cW1aY0Fw
I watched that guy compete. He is a beast. He even makes Mr. Olympia look small.
For those guys, some extra body fat is essential to maintain maximum strength, and I’m sure they’re still healthy because of all the exercise they do, just like the sumo wrestlers. I’m never going to be a strong man competitor, though, so strength is only one of my goals. I’d like to be lean and fast too.
Yep- SAID, sucka!
I read a New Yorker profile of him, and they said, like many giant dudes, he has an alarmingly unassuming attitude and voice, a big teddy bear sorta thing. And he does seem legitimately decent in interviews I’ve seen of him. If you’re big enough that no one wants to mess with you, I guess you don’t need to announce your presence.
I reckon like most high level competitors, there may be some chemical enhancement going on, but he was legitimately huge even when he was a kid, and it wasn’t until much later that he figured out that strongman events were a thing, and that he already had a leg up on 95%+ of the population.
In short- Brian Shaw, awesome guy.
Agreed. One of the biggest guys I know–6’6″, at least 300 pounds, enormous bones (like a freakin’ mastadon)–is one of the gentlest guys I know, although recently he’s gone off the deep end a bit with Tea Party politics. Seems to have become more angry than he used to be.
I’m sure Brian Shaw uses steroids, but I don’t even consider that cheating in competitions like that. I just figure everyone does. But no doubt he would still easily crush me even if I were the one using ‘roids rather than him.
Seth Roberts is wrong. Sugar totally has flavor. IT TASTES LIKE SUGAR. I have no idea how people can make blatant statements like that that are easily refuted by anyone who has taste buds.
I think it’s sugar water he’s talking about, which is fairly neutral in flavor compared to granulated sugar.
Thank you! I’m glad someone finally voiced what I’ve been thinking for a long time: The need to be nourished is not some sort of human failing. We’re obsessed with this idea of “guilt” and “sinfulness” regarding food, and it’s such a Medieval concept (to paraphrase Sally Fallon). Does an animal have a moral conundrum when their body tells them it’s time to chew a bone or munch some grass? Of course not. And talk about a first world problem. I hate to be like everybody’s mother in the 50s, but some people on this planet have NO nutrition at all. I doubt they get all mental when they feel a craving. Except maybe when the craving is for food in general, and there is none. Listen to your body, and be thankful you can nourish it.
What about people with thyroid issues? The only weigh I can lose weight is by not eating as much as everyone else. for a few years I ate whatever, whenever, and I gained a lot of weight. Which I know is to be expected, but it never went down ever. Just steadily climbing, until I started eating less than I am super comfortable with. Sucks.
If you are properly medicated, you don’t have to eat less than everyone else.
Just had to comment as I do really believe sugar is addictive – I literally *would* drink maple syrup out of the bottle, plus sit and eat an entire pack of dates…. your examples of things people “never do” were so apparent to me of things I did (and would still do, if I’d not been diagnosed as t1 diabetic, and thus weaned myself of sugar entirely).
So though I like your article and it made me laugh loudly at certain points; always eating what you desire can lead to trouble… from personal experience.
Just my tuppence worth :)
I was going to say uh, actually I *have* drank maple syrup from the bottle, and then I read your comment Nadia, yep dates too. I was eating 1-2 lbs a day for awhile, after meals, it was ridiculous. Now I can’t go near a medjool date :)
Either I was severely underfed (which recent readings, here and elsewhere on the interwebs such as youreatopia, have led me to believe) or I was craving sugar.. Well I was craving sugar. But maybe I just craved the calories.
Type 1 diabetes is kind of another ball game. But would think with insulin you shouldn’t have that kind of craving anymore? I craved OJ so freaking bad I wanted to drink an entire gallon at once. It took over a month for that one to calm down. I really don’t crave anything anymore. Whereas once, food was this great wonderful thing I couldn’t have. Now it is annoying that I get hungry and have to eat something. I have other things to do.
I know this is an old-ish thread, but I just wanted to chime in too that even though I’m mostly a chocolate guy, I have drank maple syrup from the bottle, and (not in the same sitting!) eaten a ridiculous number of dates. I can indeed go nuts when presented with sugar, it’s usually better to abstain because otherwise “just one” transforms into “all of it”. :)
I’ve been following your advice for a while about just eating and it’s been fun! No cravings and I feel overall happier and energetic and calmer. I realized when I started eating how I was really not eating for years. It did keep me a little smaller for a while until it didn’t anymore (low carb/ high fat and low calorie = not much actual chewing happening!) The only downside to your unplan is that I did gain weight and i can tell the most in my butt when i try to put on jeans, and my boobs! But, my stomach is flatter it seems which I think must be from less cortisol activity. Now I’m unsure what to do to lose this weight. I’m considering low carbing again but I’m afraid I will stress my body out and feel depressed again!! Ugh. I’m not cool with being a size bigger! Although I feel good.
Bigger butt and boobs but your stomach is flatter? And you feel better? I think millions of women would love to know your secret ;p
I hear you about the extra weight. It’s not fun and it’s not sexy. There has got to be a way to balance the body without gaining weight or even losing weight. I can’t keep this up much longer. I here the call of the low-carb calling me.
Let me remind you that low-carb is about the most effective way to screw up your metabolism. People experience weight gain coming off low-carb like no other diet. If you’re going to revert back to dieting, may I recommend any way other than low-carb?
But for the record, I would encourage moderation and balance. There are ways to heal while minimizing weight gain, but most people prefer to go to extremes and also some people have more difficult situations. Depending on your situation (if you were in starvation there is no other option than to gain some), things like sleep, meditation, lifestyle changes, exercise, eating on a very regular schedule and listening to your body all help help with healing minus huge weight gain. In short, your body needs to feel like it is safe and being provided for and cared for. But, of course, some people will be dealing with food intolerances, starvation, medication, underlying conditions, major emotional stress, etc., which is more tricky.
Yeah, low carb sucks. Some people seem to do well with it, but for me it’s always resulted in a bad mood, bad breath, low energy, and an inevitable binge on carbs once I can’t take it any longer.
If you find being overweight* not fun and not sexy, then wait til you try low-carb. After a few months, not only will you not want any sex, you may not even be physically able to have it. And I’m sure you’ll be a great joy to be around socially when you refuse birthday cake to enjoy your bunless burger. And what could be more attractive than the wan, gray face of someone living on meat and cashew butter.
* And are you really overweight? I mean really?? Not just according to an old Met Life chart or according to not having a “flat stomach” (?!) but in a way that’s genuinely damaging your life? People on here complain about gaining weight all the time, and I really start to feel for them. Sometimes they tried Matt’s advice, improved their temps, digestion, sex drive, food tolerance, and reduced their general orthorexic neurosis. But horrors, now they’re FAT … according to them. As I said, at first their plight seems really worthy of concern: Wow, maybe they can’t fit in their car, in an airplane seat, maybe they can’t find clothes. Then they eventually share details, and they’ve gone from BMI 21 to BMI 25 or something, or 25 to 28, or even 30 to 32. In other words, too “fat” to be on TV, but give me a break, not even close to life-thwarting obesity, it’s just neurosis and perfectionism. I totally get it, I have felt the same way, but I’m trying to get over it, and realize that the body knows better than the conscious mind its optimum size and fat ratio at any given time.
Pretty much sums it up Mighty M.
I am the same but the weight gain is everywhere! And a lot of it! Plus I STILL have cravings and I’ve been following your way for a year now. And still gaining with is NOT good for my OA in my knee and ankle!
I think the best advice is NO diet, advice or way of eating is for EVERYONE! Including Matt’s way. It’s worked for a lot it seems but for myself and others I know it’s extremely bad. I did best with portion and calorie control and exercise and lost the weight quickly, easily and it stayed off and exercise did NOT make me hungry and I felt great with less calories – all the stuff Matt is against! And I was this way most of my life until my husband got sick and passed quickly and unexpectedly and then I overate and didn’t excerise and trying everything else that I did in the past DIDN’T work for me so I am going back to all the no-no’s Matt speaks against because they WORK for me!
Everyone must find what works for them and not be bothered about “studies, reports, the latest news” stuff because a lot of the times they don’t apply to everyone! Find your OWN way!
I’ve started my previous way a week ago and have started to lose weight, I feel great, I am not overly craving – do the eat well 6 days and week and have a cheat day on the 7th like I used to do and maybe an occasional cheat day in the middle of the 6 days if I wanted and execised fairly hard and it worked like a charm for me a long, long time and it is starting to do again.
So everyone who isn’t finding succss with this “eat all you can” way don’t despair, like clothes, try on other ways of eating and find what fits and suits you and your life the best!
P.S. I still read and will read your blog Matt as it is interesting!
“If you give into your cravings like CM does, they go away, except in very rare and extreme cases. But I guess I would be pretty stressed too if I was a furry blue thing with uncontrollable pupils and no genitals.” LMAO!!! I’m still laughing so much that I now have a craving for AIR!!!
…And if you like the Cookie Monster with no genitals comment as much as I do, you might like this short video of Family Guy’s take on CM’s cookie addiction. LOL!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz7mHPPV44U
Relating in a big way to Nicole’s above comment!!…It truly does “SUCK” to eat less than everyone else if you want to keep the kilos at bay…I get so frustrated because the hunger and desire are definitely “there”….but if I want to be “o.k.” or at peace with myself…I feel as if I simply cannot eat to the satiation point….in regards to physical and “mental” hunger.
Whacked-out metabolism and haywired thyroid are soooo very frustrating and alas…a mega-“crapola” reality for me as well.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m the most omnivorous person I know because in a day I might eat, hand harvested raw chestnuts, condensed milk drunk from the can, acorn mush, Arby’s curly friends, live grubs, a microwave burrito, chaga mushroom tea, a schweppes ginger ale, an ogranic apple from the tree, string cheese, some dogwood fruits, ice cream …
live grubs? lol
For years, I assumed that too much sugar stresses the body. Does anyone know where this idea came from? It would be good to examine it wrt Matt’s argument.
Personally, I find sweets very morish, a problem I do not have when I eat fruit. Could it be the vitamins and minerals that come with the sugar in fruit, as well as the balance between glucose and fructose?
I can see the point that you are making and I think that it applies when things are well or do not require intervention, but I also think that to change anything that has gotten out of balance, sometimes self control is also needed as work may need to be done to correct something. A personal example: I need to take medication on an empty stomach, so I cannot eat between meals. I need to plan and resist the urge to snack if I want to benefit from this medication. It results in a lower intake, as I do not need to make up for it at meals.
Why were the National Parks closed? Fire danger? Hope you all are enjoying yourselves.
Pink, the parks were closed due to the partial U.S. Government shutdown. Parks are considered one of the least crucial services offered by federal goverment. I think the B.S about sugar stressing the body came form the fact that people were displacing nutrient dense foods with empty refined sugars. Of course, this causes a stress on the body due to lack of nutrients not the sugar per se. The same thing can be said if someone was to take in mostly sticks of butter in place of nutrient dense foods.
Of course, I forgot about the shutdown (in Australia). Thanx JonO.
Makes sense about mistaking lack of nutrient stress for sugar. I wonder who started it all? Lustig?
Extending the theme of eating when stressed – it’s chocolate! Could it be that chocolate as well as having sugar and sat fat also has minerals such as Mg and a heap of other chemicals that affect your brain chemicals?
By the way, I rarely eat cookies because I don’t really like them. Most cakes I don’t like either, but of the few I do like, I only like them if they are baked that day. Same goes for bread.
Great post, Matt. My experience has been very similar. When I restricted foods in an attempt to “eat clean” relentlessly, I craved all kinds of things. When I was on the Slow Carb diet years ago I was able to put down 12,000 calories one cheat day. If I tried to eat more than one third of that in a day now without some intense exercise, I would struggle to do it. I no longer crave the pints of Ben and Jerry’s and whole cheesecakes that I did back in those days or when I was eating paleo either. Turns out I was just hungry. Oops :)
This advice may work for some, but as someone who used to always crave sweet foods, I can say that giving into those cravings through binging on the items I craved only served to make me fatter.
After reading The Great Cholesterol Myth, I eliminated sugar and flour mostly from my diet to reduce inflammation. I thought I’d have a hard time with it. I am the person that would get in my car, drive half a mile down the street to McDonalds at 11 PM at night just to get a chocolate shake or a 3 pack of chocolate chip cookies. Within a few days of going nearly cold turkey on simple carbs while still eating higher glycemic index foods (grapes for example), I no longer cared. I didn’t need will power and I didn’t need to binge on cookies.
For someone like me that was likely pre-diabetic, sugar had a clear addictive property, but there’s good news here. It was less addictive than nicotine. I solved my smoking addiction years ago and I’ll tell you that it turned out to actually be much easier to cure myself of my insatiable sweet tooth simply by cutting out refined carbs.
I “cured” my sweet tooth in a similar fashion. And thought it was awesome. Wrote about how horrible refined carbs were for nearly a half decade. Then I and most of the people I communicated with felt much better adding refined flour and sugar back into their diets. I no longer think desiring and enjoying some sweet foods is a problem for most people.
Matt, Matt, Matt. Disappointing post. No offence, but are you getting old or something? You sound like a broken record – ever more giving off the whiff of ideology. Crusty old ideology. What ever happened to the 180 degree switches in viewpoint? Anyways….
My problem with this post is mostly when you say “Screw self control” and the parts you are leaving out about self control. I see in the context you say that it is true. That “will power” wears out and that so called cravings often indicate a genuine need for food. I get your belabored point. But so called cravings obviously aren’t that simple. You don’t mention the role of learned behavior, access to food, variety, palatability or portion size all of which have bearing on eating behavior and “cravings”.
I think you know all this but for some reason you aren’t communicating it. Further it take self control to implement regular mealtimes and bed times. The “screw self control” thing seems a little over stated and I think that people need to realize that making any consistent change in their lives requires tolerating discomfort. The body and mind seek homeostasis and any significant change to the norm is seen as disruptive. I’m not sure you are sending the right message when you say “Screw self-control”. I’m not convinced. The middle way seems healthier.
Anyways – maybe you have good reasons for saying what you say and not saying what you don’t say, but I figured this post (and probably others) could use another devil’s advocate. Cheers.
I don’t crave anything, TurkeyBurger, and have lost 21 pounds so far and overcome a bunch of health problems and gained strength and energy and mental clarity as well. Read Chief Rok’s blog, he eats five plates and drinks five big sodas at buffets and he is operating at a higher level of health than ever. Discomfort is not requite. There’s no discomfort among primitive people, Koreans, Japanese, and others. They do not eat high fructose corn syrup, PUFA oils, and trans fat, of course. This IS the “middle way.” The extremes are saying restrict macro-nutrients or binge on unsatisfying, toxic, nutrient-deficient waste all day (SAD, standard American diet).
Yet South Korean men never stop puffing on cigarettes and in the North, it’s weed.
Have you been to Asia?? They cook a lot with PUFA and maybe trans fats as well. I’m not convinced PUFAs and HFCS are the root of all evil.
I’m not convinced either. I’d say the only problem with either is that they’re easy to over-consume.
Mercury – Cmon man – Anecdotal evidence is weak and traditional peoples weren’t raised on crap. Think about it!
I hear you and that’s partly why I recently wrote about my forays into calorie management. There are always tradeoffs, and what is adaptive now may not be so tomorrow.
I used to think that all exercise of willpower was misplaced, and we would do best to remove restraint and live instinctually. I still think this is valuable, especially if your experience is of unbroken restraint and overbearing micromanagement. Coming from that, any example of acceding to desires is perhaps better than constant policing. But at a certain point, learning healthy ways to express those instincts and desires becomes important.
And you’re right- on some level, there’s no difference between the willpower necessary to eat on a regular schedule and go to sleep early if that’s a problem for you than to moderate this or that food. The question is: how do we get to that place (where we don’t endlessly eat cookies or Snickers or whatever) without setting us up for a rebound?
For some, moderating consumption is inherently stressful- the low level restraint needed requires more and more mental energy, especially absent addressing whatever it is that’s causing you to endless crave cookies. Maybe for those folks, full throttle indulgence is the ticket for cultivating enough neutrality around the trigger that it stops sending you off the charts.
For others, moderating consumption can be energizing, can feel empowering and fuel a virtuous cycle. You can dial one health-promoting practice in after another, and see a synergistic effect. So for example, you cut out soda, feel better, less cold, more hyper-metabolic. You start exercising just for fun because having a body is awesome. You go to sleep earlier and rest more deeply because you got yourself a nice sweat going from all that Ultimate frisbee you were playing. You also got more vitamin D, and met some cool people. You keep doing it, and those people become friends. You get invited to a potluck, and cook some tasty homemade food and you physically feel great. You also feel mentally and emotionally better because these awesome people are in your life. You spend time with them, and less time alone in front of screens throughout your free time. Your confidence is up because you suddenly have a bunch of new people who realize you’re fun to be around and are an overall swell fella. Plus you’re getting pretty good at Ultimate. That confidence carries over and you meet a special someone. Between your new friends and your new special someone and all that Ultimate frisbee and potlucking, you’re barely watching TV, and your stress levels are down. You become more attuned to biofeedback, and when you drink that soda for the first time in a while, it only takes a few sips before you don’t want anymore, and if you keep going, you feel sick. Now knocking back a gallon of cola like you used to doesn’t take willpower at all, just remembering that you feel better when you don’t go drowning in it.
And so on…
I guess a final point in all of this is: how do we most effectively get to a point of auto-regulation, where it no longer takes an active effort to do the things that help us feel best? Like you said, all change requires tolerating some discomfort, but how do we minimize that and maximize the upside? If we assume that willpower is not an infinite resource and will exhaust at some point, what do we do to leverage that best?
I think that’s the crux of your qualm with this article, that it inadvertently promotes another ‘one size fits all’ approach, and does not make sense for everyone.
I agree with pretty much everything you are saying. And yes – you have astutely divined the crux of my qualms pretty accurately. Matt likes to make fun of other people’s over simplified ideas about how to be healthier, lose weight etc., but he is pushing his own version of the same thing.
I mean consider that its just as silly to say to someone that its going to damage his health if he resists that urge for a twinkie than it is to say that eating this or that is inherently unhealthy. I mean geez i’m sure countless lives have been ruined by people who unfortunately resisted their slightest inkling for a twinkie! Don’t even mention hohos or ding dongs and I don’t even want to think of the human wreckage wreaked from giving up pizza and beer and M&Ms. I’m sure Matt would be very good at parodying himself like this – no?
Anyways – don’t get me wrong I get there is merit to the method and I don’t necessarily have a problem it being pushed here, but everybody needs a little trolling from time to time :).
“I guess a final point in all of this is: how do we most effectively get to a point of auto-regulation, where it no longer takes an active effort to do the things that help us feel best?”
Good question – my answer is that there are many ways and its very complex. The fun thing about being human is that we are so complex that there are more things that can go wrong. There is a song by Stuart Davis entitled “Ladder” that analogizes evolution to a ladder in that the higher that we climb the more the ladder sways. There are innumerable threats to human well being – we live in a tenuous bubble of stability – far far from where humanity began.
My point is that everything in modern society is pulling the individual out of balance. we can only increase our awareness of what we really need and thereby simplify the satisfaction of human need and bring ourselves back into balance. I’m critical of the “screw self control” viewpoint because I think our task here is transcendence through self awareness. Humans are not animals. For example it takes self-control to implement the golden rule – that is what makes it possible for humans to escape barbarism. Just as perhaps it takes self-control to plan meals, bed times, develop habits etc.
Anyways where thought is getting stifled on this blog IMHO is that when people make a change there is naturally a certain type of inner “resistance” encountered. Matt is correct in that giving in to that resistance is one way of overcoming it. Ironically I myself have liberated myself from many temptations by giving in, getting bored the stimulus whatever. Its like by giving in to something you desire you learn what you really need. However – I’m not convinced that there is no merit to setting a practice, a discipline. In fact part of the idea of asceticism – and why it is a part of spiritual and religious traditions – is that by denying yourself pleasures and comforts you can literally “feel” your way to what you really need or don’t need.
I totally agree with you and when I read “screw self control” my first thought was ‘well, how do you think we managed to get down from the trees in the first place?”
I don’t think that any true achievement is made without temperance. I am a muso, and I have to play nearly every day, even when I don’t feel like it.
I think about will power and self control as existing on a continuum, with will power being the more extreme form. When I was younger, I had incredible will power to try very some pretty crazy diets in an effort to “fix” my health problems. Many of these diets were damaging and didn’t provide my body what it needed, but I was able to push through the warning signals my body sent me because of a strong will.
Now my will power is very weak in that regard. If a diet isn’t going to work for me, I know within a few days and I quickly give in to my cravings. I no longer have the ability to fight my body. However, I still practice self control. I’m restricting calories in order to lose some weight, and so I moderate what I eat, but I’m also careful to eat to satisfy my body’s true needs. Tonight, I started eating a second helping at dinner (because it tasted so good), but after a couple of bites I realized that I didn’t really need it, so I covered it with foil and put in the fridge. I don’t feel deprived because of that, and I won’t be subject to horrible cravings later, but it did require that I control my impulse to eat more.
I’m not saying everyone will use the terms “will power” and “self control” in the same way that I do–and I totally get what you’re saying–but for me, it’s a useful distinction that helps me think about two forms of self denial–one that’s damaging and one that’s helpful.
I will flick MR Matt Stone hard on his upper lip. Why? Because nobody, I mean nobody, insults Cookie Monster like that without repercussion. Nobody.
Hey, Cookie Monster is selling out. Face it. He’s been on Oz twice, been on Dr. Phil, and in one episode was eating a bunch of raw vegetables. Next thing you know he’ll be on a late night infomercial with David Wolfe.
I believe that the Cookie Monster is David Wolfe in disguise ha!!
LOL! Yes Reaper, it is blasphemy. I wish that Cookie Monster would get back to basics and do what he does best which is eating cookies!! I want him to stop pushing that damn Nutribullet (which is nothing more than a larger sized Magic Bullet)!! It does NOT EXTRACT nutrients, damn you Cookie Monster…oops, I mean David Wolfe!!!!!
That’s the Cookie Monster I know and love.
I really liked this post
I have no thyroid any more and am well medicated and have trouble shifting weight, BUT it doesn’t stop me from being fit and healthy so I try to accept it.
One of the things I have done since finding 180 degrees is to let go of the guilt around wanting “bad foods” and in the last 10 months I have just had the coke I wanted or the chocolate or the fruit or veges.
I can say that yes I put on about 5kgs but in the last 3-4 weeks I noticed that the chocolate has lasted in the fridge for almost a week instead of several hours (that is with the kids help to eat it) and instead of a 375 ml coke now I am happy with a 200ml can less often
I drove home from work dreaming of green veges and steak for lunch and even though starving drove past 4 fast food places
believe me 3 months age that would not have happened even with good food waiting at home
So this whole craving thing is working for me the only thing I would add is that I do supplement off and on usually zinc and chromium as Australia has very old soil
So Thanks Matt and no matter how you bag him out Cookis Monster will always be a fave in our house!!
I need to go to bed. Instead I am going downstairs to get a cookie.
?If you give into your cravings like CM does, they go away, except in very rare and extreme cases.”
What are these rare and extreme cases?
This sounds like my experience with soda. I was totally unabashedly hooked on pop. It’s not like my consumption was due to the denial and binge cycle associated with harsh restrictions. I would drink litres of it a day with no guilt or attempts to restrict it and would still crave it voraciously. No matter how much I drank, the craving never went away.
sa230e, first of all, do you live in teh USA where high fructose corn syrup is in most sodas? If so, try avoiding those, along with all diet soft drinks, which are crap IMO. Your body needs energy, not a water with man-made chemicals. I never drink diet sodas, never liked their nasty taste or after-taste, and never will drink them. THey are waste of money and provide nothing but dilution of cellular fluids. I don’t have cravings from drinking REAL SUGAR sodas, meaning sucrose, cane or beet sugar and not invert sugar or glucose-fructose syrup or anything like that. In fact, the SUGAR sodas (along with club soda and carbonated spring water) REDUCED my cravings for chocolate, ice cream, desserts, candy, fruit juice, and so forth. i was drinking lots of orange juice and other 100% fruit and vegetable juices for years and they were not helping me as much as the sugar sodas have helped. You need good food with them, however. Maybe that is your problem. Try having the sodas with meat and lots of salt and starch and vegetables, for example.
There’s a fine line between a substance that is enjoyable and one that starts to take on an addictive quality. Soft drinks containing caffeine can certainly cross that line for some. But one’s addiction-proneness is often related to how well they are nourished and operating physically and mentally. So it’s never complete enough to just say that X substance is “addictive.” Depends on who is consuming it, just like with alcohol.
Soft drinks make you thirstier, that’s why you can consume them on and on. I drink 2 of those small cokes (the ones in the 8-pack) these days and I make sure I have a big glass of water before and after. If I don’t have the water, I will want more coke.
I’m probably in the minority here but I think HFCS is better for you than cane sugar. It tastes better (I finally admitted that to myself) and it matches the sugar proportions of fruit better than cane sugar. A mexican coke makes me feel a little sick, but a good ol’ American coke makes me feel GREAT! In moderation of course.
I prefer the taste of HFCS-sweetened drinks too. I’m not sure if it’s acculturation or simple preference, but I don’t like the sucrose-sweetened sodas quite as well. I generally limit myself to one Dr. Pepper a day, and I enjoy it much more than when I had multiple sodas.
I don’t get thirstier from SUGAR sweetened sodas. I can’t drink them on and on. If you drink them too much, you will have dry mouth and thirst, but I’m hydrated & even over-hydrated when I have too many sucrose soft drinks. I have heard from others that HFCS sodas make them thirstier – and diet sodas too (which I avoid). I disagree on HFCS tasting better or Mexican Coke making you sick. Maybe YOU have a problem, and you are used to the taste of HFCS, but it tastes watery IMO and sugar drinks taste better, hydrate better, and are more satisfying. Maybe you need to eat a more balanced diet (more solid food, fruits, vegetables, juices) and more salt to stop the thirst.
I live in Canada and we do use HFCS (although here it’s always mischievously listed on the ingredients as “glucose-fructose”). Sucrose doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. I could go to town on a case of Pepsi Throwback or sucrose sweetened Gatorade just the same. I prefer the taste of sucrose though and it doesn’t give you the “sticky teeth” either. Both types of soft drink make me thirstier (and hungrier) so I try to avoid them. I can pass them by at the store but if they’re in my house I always find myself reaching for one.
Great article. I might add another way to look at it: when you give yourself permission to eat something, the cravings lessen.
I was until recently vegan for ten years (not a bit of meat, cheese, ice cream; not a sip of milk. Then a year ago I went Paleo-low carb for a year, and was ravenous for my usual carbs (rice, beans, etc). I then found 180, and gave myself permission to eat all those things (about a month or two ago). Sure, I gained about 5-10 lbs, but my energy is back, I feel happy again, my workouts and strength are up, and after binging on pizza for a month, I don’t crave it like mad anymore. Now I just need to lose the 10 lbs to get back to my fit-self.
Forgot my main point: when you restrict a food, you give it power. When you allow it back, it loses its power, and you should be able to enjoy it moderately.
Would that this works with smoking as well. I tried btw. Did make me smoke a little less for a time but never made me quit.
My dad quit smoking the day after going through way too many one night. It made him feel so sick. Doubt it would work for everyone, but you could always try chain smoking as many as you can one night and see what happens.
I used to be a pack-a-day smoker during my “invincible” teenage years. I agree completely that over-smoking for a night can be a great way to destroy your taste for them. It would still be difficult to quit if you have a serious addiction, but it can make the first day or two easier if you feel disgusted by cigarette smoke because you made yourself sick with it.
Another great way to quit is to give them up when you get a bad cold. Cigarettes make the respiratory symptoms of the cold so much worse that you often don’t want to smoke–at least in my experience.
The parks closed because it was a Federal holiday. I am glad that I indulged in my craving for salt in the mornings, salted fruit may be weird, but they taste great to me.
Sorry to be the voice of dissent here, but I think this advice is totally irresponsible. There are people for whom eating whatever they want will NEVER work. I know, because I am one of them. As a holistic nutritionist, I know what a balanced, healthy diet is, and I eat it. I get enough protein, carbs, fat, macro- and micro-nutrients, water and fiber. I eat well. Yet, I still have sugar cravings–all the time. I have eaten the equivalent of a box of oreos in a day, and the next day–guess what? Still wanted them. The next week? Yep, still wanted them. Two weeks later, two months later, two years later–still wanted them. If I ate what I was craving, I’d be so obese I couldn’t move, literally. No, wait, I’d be dead. I love healthy food, I enjoy eating a balanced diet, but I’ve accepted that I am one of those people who cannot always just “eat what I want.” There may not be enough years of therapy left in my life to change that. In other words, for some people, a conscious choice to eat healthy foods, and not whatever they crave, is the best course of action.
That’s why I use words like “probably” “usually” and “except in rare or extreme cases” frequently. In the early days I wrote in absolutes but I know better now.
Good idea! :)
I totally agree with this based on my own personal experience. I was trying to explain it to a friend the other day who was complaining about craving some “bad” food. There is a bakery in town that makes the most awesome pignoli cookies, and they are one of the cheapest things there so I can actually afford them. I LOVE those cookies. For two weeks I went and got a cookie at every opportunity, at least a few times a week. Then one morning I bought one, ate two bites, and decided that I didn’t want it after all. I went three weeks before eating another one.
As a doula I tell this to women all of the time- YOUR BODY KNOWS WHAT IT’S DOING. Trust it. This applies to birth as much as it does to diet. Believe it or not Dr. Oz does not know better than YOUR body and YOUR brain.
I’m thankful to you Matt for reminding me of this! I wish that I had learned it 20 years ago. I tell people all of the time that my life is SO much better since I learned to eat whole natural foods and not stress about exactly what.
Childbirth and diet are not synonymous.
Pignoli cookies?! I started eating the food, and I can have nuts again, which means I’m gonna make my sister bake them for Christmas.
I loooovvveee me some pignoli cookies.
Put that cookie down!! Naoo!!
Also, as far as cravings go, as a 24 year old virgin male, sex comes to mind :)
yourbrainonporn.com has a lot of interesting articles. When it comes to quantifications and nuances, things get interesting.
I have to say I do like the idea of going off like a monkey on a cupcake for a while and then things will straighten themselves out on their own. I’ve restricted PUFAs and am following a mostly Peat-inspired diet these days, and that seems to be going well. I’m not sure what to make of “food addiction”; artificial flavorings are all I can think of as addictive. I could try to stuff myself silly eating coconut butter and raw honey mixed together into a (delicious) frosting, and it isn’t going to happen. I can drink a hefty amount of orange juice, but probably because I drink orange juice instead of water these days since I’m trying to get as many calories in as I can. I have put on quite a bit of weight but most of it seems to be lean mass. My arms and legs have really filled out and I look more muscular than I did a number of months ago.
Now if any nice young ladies would like to volunteer to help a nice young man with his parallel studies on sex, think of all the contributions that could be made to biology and physiology.
I’m going to have to start looking around for a candidate. You know…for science!
Good luck on your quest for a lady friend. Being relaxed about food and eating a normal diet will help a lot with the dating game. Girls don’t want a guy who’s anxious about food, especially if they have issues themselves. Confidence is probably the most important trait you can have when it comes to dating. Appearance is important, but secondary.
Agreed. The most fun I’ve ever had on dates were at beautiful restaurants with intimate atmospheres where my date and I could just unabashedly enjoy ridiculously good food and wine. I’ve never had the impulse to stuff myself silly, but being uninhibited in the sensory enjoyment of the food (smell, taste, look) and sharing that with someone is almost a guaranteed mood-enhancer.
It more or less worked for me, but there is sort of a semantic issue here. What is a craving anyway? When I first started re-feeding, I wanted to eat sugar and carbs all the time. You could barely interest me in meat. The little bit of meat left in the freezer went mostly untouched. I ate quite a few eggs and a lot of dairy for protein I guess. After a while, food wasn’t very appealing and my appetite decreased. Gradually, I began to want (crave?) meat and broth. You could scarcely interest me in a cup of broth in the beginning, but now I could eat it every day and it tastes like ambrosia. Vegetables also became more appealing. Now I occasionally feel like I want a lot of carbs, but mostly I like to eat balanced meals, and as many pointed out above, asian food often fills that really well. I do sometimes want sugar after meals though. It is a distinct and unmistakable feeling. I don’t think it’s anything close to an addiction and I’m not sure I’d even call it a craving, and I don’t need very much, but my body is fairly adamant about wanting it. I have an idea that it somehow fuels digestion, but that’s just a hunch. Which sort of brings me to my point, which is WTF is a craving anyway? Where do we draw the line between hunger for something specific and a craving. It seems more like a matter of perspective. Someone who is overly polluted with the idea that sugars of all kinds are flat out bad and to be avoided will view any desire for sweet things as negative. Someone who is dogmatically invested in completely free eating will never view any qualitative or quantitative desire for sugary stuff of any kind as negative. Most of us are probably stuck in the middle somewhere. I think that makes it somewhat difficult to discuss the issue coherently. We might do well to examine our definitions of cravings and addictions. The term addiction is kind of sloppy anyway, at least in popular usage. It applies to both physical addictions and mental neuroses or patterns that cause us to want certain things. I mean sometimes I get to jonesing so hard for a salad! I don’t know what it is, vitamins, enzymes, but something my body would walk a mile for a damn salad, or something fresh. If anyone felt that strong of a feeling for sugar they would probably think they are some kind of junky sugar fiend, but if it’s a salad, it’s “all good”.
Finally, it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility that extremely palatable foods, concocted in ways that could only be considered unnaturally amazing, could cause someone to want to overeat; or that further, eating enough of them to lose all cravings could be not so ideal for some peoples overall health. Lots to think about, but I mostly don’t anymore. I have gained quite a bit of unwanted weight (though I think I may have turned the corner and started losing) and that is no fun on multiple levels. And actually finally, the consistency thing hasn’t worked well for me. My upper digestion is not always speedy and great. It seems like working up an appetite and waiting for what I’ve eaten to digest completely works better for me. Trying to force my body to adapt to regular meal times didn’t work so well. As a result, I often only eat a couple full meals a day, but my temps are staying up and I feel more active and generally better instead of bogged down by food I can’t digest all the time.
And really actually finally- I have increasing cognitive dissonance about the whole weight set point thing. Clearly there is something to it, but there seems to be a growing list of fine print that ought to be attached. I suspect that for me, I didn’t reach this magical weight set point. It seemed more like I reset my weight set point to a higher number, which then served as a stepping stone to increase it yet more. This is after a lifetime of being lean and experiencing plenty of the kinds of stressors that seemed to cause jumps in weight gain in the context of a calorie surplus. It’s hard to say for sure, but that’s what it seemed like.
I’m also suspicious of the idea of a weight set point. From my experience, it is common to maintain at a certain weight for a long period of time, even years, but I think it’s relatively easy to change that point, simply by consciously eating more or less, or exercising more or less. Then you eventually reach a new point that’s easy to maintain.
I would agree that the body likes to achieve stasis, but we are intelligent creatures and so we have a certain amount of control where that stasis will be.
After finding out I have autoimmune disease and genetic indicators linked to gluten sensitivity, I went a year without cookies, pastries, all the gluteniferous good things I grew up eating. Felt a bit better for 6 months and lost some weight, then had (the usual?) reversal of improvements over the last 6 months.
So recently I’ve been experimenting with eating all the things again, and they don’t taste so good. This is making me a bit crazy–I crave the platonic ideal of munchies, like an exquisite almond croissant I can remember eating long ago for example, but I cannot find it in real life.
I’ve been eating processed crap, since that’s all that’s available, in a tragic attempt to assuage the cravings. It kind of kills the urge without satisfying it, until the next time. This is unsatisfying yet self-reinforcing behavior, and I don’t know what to do other than use up my miniscule will-power to short-circuit it.
Matt, that was your LOLiest article in a long time. Oh boy. I gotta settle down. I’m picturing you writing this while sitting in your bashed in car, pausing to scratch your yourself every two seconds while parked directly in front of a gate to Yosemite that says CLOSED in big letters. And I can’t stop laughing. Nothing spurs creativity like some good old fashioned misery!
And yeah, totally. Cravings are your body’s way of saying “Eat this you idiot. Not that. THIS!!!!” Unless it’s an extreme case, as noted. And no, I don’t think this works with smoking because your body doesn’t need smokes. That’s a need the smoker invents. But the body needs food. There’s a “Roseanne” episode where Dan and Roseanne are dieting (with great success, as we can note from the rest of the series…) and Dan says to Roseanne that food is a tough thing to beat because it’s everywhere. Yeah, that’s because it’s necessary to survive. It’s not a drug, you dumbasses. You need it to survive. Take your body’s cues and get the hell over it.
I want to know just who the hell came up with that bit of nonsense that sugar destroys immune function. Mercola is always yammering on about this. Yesterday I felt so run down and on the verge of getting sick, obviously from an increase in activity the past few weeks and not enough sleep the night before, so I had sundae. Chocolate and vanilla with chocolate syrup, cinnamon, shredded coconut and fresh full fat whipped cream. I was all better after that.
I don’t think the analogy between smoking and overeating is completely off. The body does start to “need” nicotine after a while, because a long-term habit alters a person’s brain chemistry to the point that it requires the drug to achieve normalcy. This is true of addiction in general. In the same way, we can habituate our brains to the rewards of overeating, which can also stimulate the release of powerful, addictive neurotransmitters. I remember seeing a documentary about a woman who couldn’t even sleep unless she ate an entire pack of fun-sized candy bars right before bed. She was morbidly obese and had no physical need of any of the nutrition in that candy, but her brain required those pleasure chemicals to relax, just like a smoker needs his fix to feel normal.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with eating chocolate sundaes with all the fixings, but I think it’s common for people to use food as a drug, rather than a source of nourishment. We can be addicted to overeating.
What I was saying is, I don’t think the binge-out-the-craving approach usually works with smoking. It works for a day maybe. But then the craving kicks back in. You’re right, it’s something the body begins to need. But I feel that a learned need for nicotine is, I wanna say, simpler than the need for food. Food does something real for you, something consequential. It repairs wounds, provides energy, grows hair, creates warmth…all that, and it’s gratifying. The right food at the right time can really get the dopamine flowing, just like drugs, sure. But that’s all drugs are doing, pretty much. Food cravings are usually coming from a genuine need. Probably the people who get addicted to sundaes in the first place have an overload of stress hormones. Nothing shuts down a case of the jitters like a carb/fat heavy meal.
I agree with you about the binge-out-the-craving with smoking and I cringed when I read it further up in the comments. Why would you take the risk of making yourself very sick to give up smoking when the worst of the actual physical cravings for nicotine are over in 3 days or less?
Have you ever broken a long-term habit with a very addictive drug? It can be very difficult for many people. If it requires a trick, so be it. Addicts often talk about needing to hit rock-bottom before they can reverse their dependence on a drug. Making yourself sick is a way to artificially put yourself in that situation.
Not worth the risk IMO – there are safer and more effective ways to ease the pain, such as going bush for 3 days with non smoking friends.
As for the rock bottom theory, isn’t death rock bottom?
It is irrelevant whether I have given up something very addictive or not, others have and we all have will power and there is help available for us to direct it intelligently. That bit of information about how nicotine works and how the physical cravings for it are gone in 3 days is very powerful information for anyone who wants to give up.
If you had given up smoking, you would know that the cravings for nicotine last much longer than three days, despite the fact that the most basic level of the addiction may be broken that quickly. It’s the same with alcohol (or even opiates). Delirium tremors and hallucinations and all that are done fairly quickly, but the “need” for the drug lasts much longer. The brain becomes habituated not only to the presence of the drug, but to the cascade of neurotransmitters triggered by the drug. It can take a long time to feel completely normal. If quitting were as easy as locking yourself in a basement for three days, or taking a hiking trip, there wouldn’t be so many people smoking themselves into a early grave, despite an intensely strong desire to quit.
The idea of hitting rock-bottom isn’t a theory. It’s a phrase used by many addicts to describe their personal experience with addiction and recovery. They often need to experience the full hell of a drug before they can turn their lives around. I’m not sure whether your comment about death is meant to mock their experience, or if you just weren’t aware of how addicts actually think. This is why I think it’s relevant whether you’ve ever experienced addiction, or if you’ve had a close friend or relative who has been an addict and went through a difficult recovery process.
There is no real risk in smoking too much for a few days just to make yourself sick. You’re not going to die of a nicotine overdose, because you’d be very sick long before you reached the overdose point, which is extremely high. I’m not sure why you’re so hostile to a strategy that some people use to quit. It’s very difficult to quit smoking–for those who have a serious habit–and people will do whatever they can to make it easier.
I have deliberately kept whether I personally know about giving up smoking out of this argument. Whether I know or don’t know about the cravings is moot since other people do. In some ways one cannot compare smoking with opiates or alcohol, as there are also other issues and behaviours that arise with these addictions, beside the fact that they affect thinking in a way that tobacco doesn’t. Also, generally, people don’t lie and steal and behave erratically when they use tobacco and their smoking behaviour is not considered antisocial.
Please note that I said “physical cravings” and not cravings, which is a big difference. The after effects will take longer to deal with, but that “I must have a cigarette” physical cycle does not take long to break. This is extremely helpful knowledge to anyone who wants to give up and I respectfully suggest that you do your research before arguing with me on this point, as you risk diluting it by inappropriate comparisons with other chemical addictions.
My comment about rock bottom was not meant to mock, I just wanted to point out that that actually is, by definition the lowest an addict can get to and tragically, many addicts do reach this low. It re-inforces my point about making unneccessary risks. Also, the issues of hard drug users don’t neccessarily apply to tobacco use, as I pointed out in my first paragraph.
You claim that overdosing on tobacco doesn’t carry real risk, that may be true if you are young and strong. This may be not be the case for others and I’m not just thinking of an overdose. I don’t know – I would not want to risk finding out. I assume that if you did so and were ok, then the negative effects would be short lived, which actually argues against your point about needing to hit rock bottom.
Also, I am not hostile about the strategy, I just think that it is too unneccessarily risky and painful when there is good, helpful information and support out there for free.
Your explanation for why nicotine addiction and alcohol/opiate addiction should not be compared is, in this context, a non sequitur. The addictiveness of a drug is not correlated with the negative social outcomes that accompany that addiction. Yes, a drunk behaves much worse than a smoker, but that doesn’t mean the smoker’s addiction is easier to break.
Oversmoking to make yourself hate cigarettes is a psychological technique, yet you try to argue against it by saying that nicotine addiction (after three days) is only psychological. Psychological tricks are exactly what many smokers need. I’m not recommending that anyone try it–that’s up to them–but if it works for some people, then I admire their accomplishment and congratulate them for finding an effective technique.
We can agree on one point. If a smoker can read a website or a stop-smoking pamphlet and then simply quit, that would be the best option. But addiction isn’t usually about a lack of information. I would guess that people who always behave rationally when it comes to addictive substances, wouldn’t be long-term smokers in the first place.
Why fight over it? If the smoke yourself silly approach works for some folks, go for it. The risk is undoubtedly less than that of a lifetime of smoking. I just don’t think it works
Ha, ha! That’s like asking why we look at cats on the internet. Quibbling over nothing is what the internet is made for… :)
I agree with your point. It probably won’t work for most people–and that could be said for just about any stop-smoking technique. But if somebody feels trapped by their addiction, it could be worth a try, because it has worked for some people.
Personally, I wouldn’t intentionally smoke myself sick (if I were still a smoker), but I might use an unintentional night of over-smoking, like a late night at the bar, as the easiest time to give up.
My girlfriend recently quit smoking after 20 years of pretty heavy smoking. I think the biggest thing is having enough acute motivation to stop doing it, and getting through the uncomfortable first 3-7 days. Support is a big part of it, too. If it were just her, living by herself, it would have been near impossible for her to get through it. It’s easy to rationalize why smoking is no big deal when you are in the throes of a strong craving. With me there, it was different. I wasn’t about to let her get away with wimping out on it when times got tough. I guess “support” isn’t a good word. Maybe having an “enforcer” there, lol. Anyway, she did great and hasn’t had a smoke in a couple months. Cravings are gone. All appears well and good.
I think a lot of how one can quit is based on personality. For me, I backed out on many a quit attempt because people were enforcing the no ciggie policy with me or cheering me on too passionately. That just pissed me off. I was out on the porch smoking within a week with too much of that crap. I probably have oppositional defiance disorder or whatever that made up crap is called. The only thing that worked for me was not making a big deal out of it at all and keeping a pack on me all the time. That way I was like “it’s cool, I’m just not gonna have one right now. Wait till later.” And then I just kept putting it off. I never said “I’m never going to smoke again.” I just said I’m not gonna smoke…now. And actually, I’m so grossed out by cigarettes now that whenever I try an indulge myself, say twice a year, I have to put it out before I’m even halfway through. And I smoked a pack a day for ten years.
The smoking myself silly thing would work for a little while, the same way doing too much of anything can gross me out on it for a little while. But pain has no memory. Once the icky feeling passed and a new day dawned, I’d be ready for a Marlboro.
We’re all different. I’d say the only really necessary part of any smoking cessation plan is a serious will to quit. Not the whiny “oh I wish I could but I know I’m not going to put up a real fight” kind of wanting to quit. The real fuckin’ deal.
I was really tired when I wrote that, I think I missed part of my point. Ok, like I might be craving protein because the system’s need to build some cells and stuff or I might be craving carbs because we need some energy, stat. Or an orange because I need some vitamin C and fiber. But once those needs are met, you usually don’t crave them anymore. I eat one or two oranges and I’m good. Like I can have a really sharp craving for pizza for dinner, but if I have a piece of cheese as a snack to tide me over, my craving then changes. I don’t need the pizza as bad. I might change my mind entirely. People think I’m fickle and weird, but I’m just going with the flow, man. Just doing what the body wants. And the body does not want to get addicted to ice cream sundaes for any length of time. Gross. Ciggies are a lot different. I kicked smoking, but it took a lot of willpower. I think food is very different.
Hey girls, I think I figured out why we crave chocolate before our periods. I think someone mentioned the magnesium theory above…but it that were true, I’m pretty sure we’d be craving fruit juice instead. No, we crave chocolate because right before our periods we’re tense and we feel like shit and chocolate makes us feel better because it’s got fat and sugar and happy chemicals in it. That’s fuckin’ it. Magnesium. Ha ha ha.
If you only crave foods when your body truly needs them, then I’d say you’re unusually adept at reading your body’s signals. That’s awesome, and I know that many people do develop this ability. But there are plenty of people who make themselves very ill by the way they eat, because they eat far more than they need.
When I allow myself to eat based on cravings alone, I eat far too much for my health. I’d rather be like you and only crave what I need, but I don’t consider myself to be unusual in this respect. On the other hand, I’m pretty good at identifying what my body needs by how I feel in other ways. I can tell when my mind just wants the “high” of good taste and a calorie load, and when my body needs nourishment for energy and rebuilding.
I don’t think I am “unusually” adept. Like my chicken, she’s good at it too. Lately she had been eating too many meal worms and her poo began showing signs of protein overdose. So today she skipped straight over the worms and went for the coconut and kiwi berries (spoiled chicken). And worms are her favorite, but not today. Or if her eggshells are thin and showing signs of low calcium, she goes nuts for yogurt or oyster shell. But other times she does’t bother. Or my cat, if she’s having a particularly bad bout of hairballs will sneak out and eat grass. It’s innate, I’d argue. It’s not something to be developed. It’s all the other shit, the psychological stuff, the advertisements, the addictions, that’s the stuff that’s developed.
So I completely agree that it’s important to eat when our body needs something. But I also think that food is used as a drug by many people, far beyond their actual physical needs. I know plenty of obese people who eat incredible calorie loads, when in fact what their body needs is for them to stop eating. Diabetes and multiple other health problems are a common consequence, just like smokers often end up with cancer or other respiratory problems.
we can also habituate our brains to the “rewards” of under-eating: anorexia
Yep, undereating can be a drug too. There are so many ways that eating can alter our brain chemistry that I think the analogy with nicotine is really useful. Eating addictions might be even harder to break, because you can’t just quit. You have to figure out rewire your brain while still eating multiple times a day.
I love Cookie Monster but I fucking hate Dr. Oz, though. I just hate him so much.
Yeah, Dr. Oz has turned out to be just a media whore!
Matt, my journey from your early RRARFing ideas led me to read Dr. Diana Schwarzbein on insulin levels and stabilizing blood sugar and later Alisa Vitta of WomanCode who’s also big on eating 3 or 4 meals a day. I’m also supplementing with magnesium and I haven’t had a chocolate craving in weeks, almost months.
Very odd for someone with a decade’s experience with daily chocolate “cravings”. But good.
Well, it appears you went in reverse if you went from RRARF to Schwarzbein, as I went from Schwarzbein to RRARF over the last 7 years.
Now i’m hungry for dates, maple syrup, and grape juice =)