This past weekend I ate something I hadn’t eaten in years: a piece of bread. Within about an hour, I experienced something I had also not had in years: a food craving. That made me realize my usual daily diet, along with effortlessly keeping my weight down, has produced an unexpected benefit. It has immunized me from food cravings.
The piece of bread I ate was gluten-free. But, still… Later that evening, I found myself drooling over the thought of chomping down on another piece of bread. I savored the thought of biting into the crust, working my way through the soft doughy…
I wouldn’t let myself have any more simply because the experience of wanting more bread so badly was so unnerving.
My usual meals are based on the Paleo diet. The Paleo diet is meant to generally exclude the foods humans have gorged on since the introduction of agriculture about 10,000 years ago. It centers on meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts. It omits grains like wheat and corn. It forbids gluten, dairy and soy.
I went on a Paleo diet because I have celiac, an immune response to the gluten found in wheat, barley and rye. Aside from slowing the nerve and brain damage I experienced from gluten, I have discovered that the diet has largely stopped the progression of arthritis in my hands.
And after I had a piece of bread this past Saturday, I realized that the diet has also ended my food cravings.
Food Craving Causes
Exactly why a Paleo diet might put an end to food cravings is debatable. I think this happens because as long as I stick to my approved foods I can eat as much as I want. That doesn’t leave room for cravings. How can you crave a food if at every meal you stuff yourself with as much food as you desire?
Many days I feel like I don’t just eat as much as I want, I eat about as much as I can.
Oh, did I mention that since I went on the Paleo diet, I’ve lost about 15 pounds? Yes, I exercise but I don’t work out for an unreasonable amount of time. As long as I stick to the foods on my diet and stay away from sugary drinks, weight, for me, has become a non-issue. I eat until I feel full. And if I feel hungry a short time later, I eat some more.
But if you don’t want to go on a Paleo diet, the so-called nutrition experts have come up with other methods that are supposed to be effective at curbing food cravings:
- Yoga: A British study found that using controlled yoga breathing exercises may be able help you control cravings and addictions.
- Keep junk food out of your pantry: This tip is from Dr. Oz. It is based on the idea that if you don’t have problem foods in your house, you can more easily resist a craving for them.
- Eat the food you crave in the middle of a meal: According to Melinda Beck in The Wall Street Journal, research shows that eating a problem food like chocolate during a meal may help you fend off a craving for it later.
- Chew mint gum: This tip (also from Oz) comes from the idea that a minty taste in your mouth will make other foods taste yucky.
Of course, the best way to cope with a food craving is never to have one in the first place. Eating a diet that is satisfying and nutritious should keep cravings at a minimum.
As for me, I did allow myself one more piece of bread on Sunday. This time, I did not find myself attacked by the kind of intense craving that had besieged me the day before. Maybe I ate it at a time of day when I was less susceptible to a craving. Whatever the explanation, my bread experience over the weekend has reinforced my conviction that the Paleo diet is my best weapon against our current, toxic food environment.