Friday, July 27, 2007

Those damn cravings

I read an article in a medical publication once that basically stated cravings are our bodies way of telling us when we need something. For example, a pregnant woman will crave salty things like pickles and chips because her body needs the sodium. Or ice cream because she needs the dairy or protein. They also suggested that babies and children who will only eat certain foods or request the same thing over and over do so because their bodies are telling them that food has what they need. Furthermore, as we age our tastebuds change and mature to protect us from things that are more likley to make us ill or cause harm at that stage in development. Babies dislike bitter foods and prefer sweet foods. Rapid growing means they need all the quick energy resources they can get, and bitter foods with a tonic effect may cause their little organs more work than they can handle at that point. Growing children need energy and protein. They have little need for fiber at this point, so vegetables are often snubbed. As adults we need to eat a wider range of foods to guarantee enough calories when working from a nomad diet of mostly grains, seeds, and vegetation with the occasional meaty meal. Tonic foods are more useful to help our bodies cleanse themselves of toxins and because of our larger size and maturity of our organs this can be done with lower risk of poisoning ourselves. In fact, we may crave these tonic foods according to the illnesses we have. Wild animals with upset stomachs have been seen eating leaves of plants that are known to have carmitive, laxitive, or other helpful effects. Who hasn't seen a sickly looking dog eating grass to make themselves heave and feel better? Monkeys have been observed eating sour or bitter berries when they don't feel well - berries that are edible but not tasty that are usually ignored. Berries that are full of vitamin C and antioxidants. And so on. Basically, our tastes and cravings are a wonderful evolutionary advantage to us and may help explain how we have survived all these years. I wonder what wonderful, evoluntionary, and healthful compounds are to be found in the chicken soo gai (with WHITE rice), deep fried spring rolls, and butter pecan ice cream I have been craving? I guess I should just go with it and plan lunch and dinner accordingly. After all - far be it for little old me to throw a wrench in the wheel of evolution! That is my story, and I am sticking to it. Now leave me alone with my chinese food and ice cream before I remember I hate ice cream and it makes me feel ill.

1 comment:

Red Dirt Mummy said...

I most heartily agree! Now just let me finish my cookie and cup of tea. LOL
In all seriousness I do actually agree with those points and have long believed that my body tells me what it needs, eg a sudden desire for steak, a need for a big plate of vegies and yes, the chocolate I can't seem to live without. It's the over-indulgence, rather than the simple indulging (of any of them really) that is problematic. And yes, I have been known to plan entire meals around strange cravings - like sweet chilli sauce!