Ever wondered why we crave certain foods? And more importantly, can we change these cravings to hunger for real foods that are healing for us? The story of cravings starts by looking at animals in the wild.
In the wild, animals have cravings that guide them instinctually toward certain flavors. Without knowledge of pharmacology or nutrition, animals know when to seek a bitter or sweet herb deciphering between nourishing plants & poisonous ones.
In nature, nutrients like curcumin in turmeric, resveratrol in grapes or vitamin C in citrus are flavorless. However, each of these nutrients are bound in whole plant foods to a flavor. Citrus has a sour taste; grapes are sweet and turmeric is mildly bitter.
As mammals, humans also have an evolutionary instinctual drive to crave certain flavors that have always been connected to a specific set of nutrients. For thousands of years, our instinctual cravings are how we chose the right foods to eat.
Fast forward to modern times and the advent of processed foods. New technologies like gas chromatography pioneered by the food industry were able to manufacture flavors independent of nutrients. This was first perfected in the late 1960s.
Since then, the food industry has literally created thousands of flavors in processed foods without nutrients. Without these flavors, no one would eat these food like substances or Frankenfoods as I like to call them. As a result of this separation of flavor from nutrients, our instinctual cravings have been manipulated & warped by the food industry to make us crave their processed foods rich in flavors and poor in nutrients.
The availability of flavors without nutrients has ruined our ability to achieve healthy cravings and set up a limitless appetite for empty calories devoid of any nutrients. This cycle of craving has led to a special kind of eating disorder.
These flavor rich processed foods make up a whopping 64% of the Standard American Diet (SAD). These Frankenfoods are high in refined sugar, bad fats & toxic chemical additives.
Our bodies crave these food like substances & are never satisfied as the nutrients that are usually found with flavors are not there. This leads to an endless cycle of Frankenfood addiction that is the underlying cause of the diet related diseases of our time.
In order to break the cycle, we have to reboot our system & our taste buds by avoiding all processed foods. Thankfully, our taste buds change in just 21 days! So, we can stop the cycle and begin to renew our cravings for real food in just a few weeks.
In my next blog, I will discuss more about how we can begin to reset our taste buds and our cravings in just 21 days. Until then, make sure to recognize the difference between real food with real flavors connected to nourishing nutrients and fake foods that are manufactured to addict us and make us sick.
Dr. Shad (Farshad Fani Marvasti, MD, MPH) is a Stanford-trained medical doctor, associate professor in academic medicine, speaker, and author with expertise in nutrition and culinary medicine, wellness, public health and prevention.
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