Taming the cravings
I've had a love/hate relationship with my bathroom scales most of my adult life. Up & down, up & down... sigh...
Looking back at the heavier me, I see me eating a healthy vegan diet, but with lot of high fat foods such as oil, chocolate, nuts & vegan cheese products.
When I look at the leaner me (in memory & now!), I see my diet focused on low-fat whole plant foods: NO oil, NO avocado, NO nuts, NO vegan cheese products, NO coconut & NO chocolate.
"Why so strict?" you may wonder. "Come on, you gotta have a little treat now and then!"
And you’d be right. I do, but I am less and less thinking of those sorts of foods as "treats".At this stage of the game, I see them more as powerful triggers for cravings that make the rest of my life seem empty.
"Yikes!" you may say in alarm. "That almost sounds like you are addicted to high fat foods! That's not possible!"
I'm sorry to say, it is all too possible. High fat foods (which are generally also the most calorie-dense foods) are part of the Terrible Trifecta of food addictions: SOS (sugar, oil & salt). In the case of high fat whole foods, although they may be a little more nutritious than pure oil, their high content of fat comes from plant oils.
Now it's probably true that no one craves straight oil. No one hides a bottle of corn oil under their bed, for example! LOL Where oil packs it's punch is in combination with sugar and/or salt.
Let's take for example, chocolate: high in fat (approximately 50% of calories) and seriously bitter! So we add a little sweetener to it, and voila!We have a Class A addiction in one pot: fat, sugar plus some feel-good narcotics (theobromine & caffeine) to seal the deal.
When we couple that potent brew with positive emotional associations such as happy birthday parties or fun Easter morning egg hunts, we have created a very attractive (and fattening!) way to make ourselves feel better when we'd rather eat than face problems.
Having proved to myself several times now, that eating a little chocolate sooner or later turns into a lot... instead of chocolate, I enjoy naturally low-fat carob powder. It looks like cocoa powder, but without the narcotics, and because it is mildly sweet, I can enjoy it without sweetening.
I mix carob powder with a little water and spread that on a rice cake. It has a creamy texture & rich brown colour, with a pleasantly nutty flavour.It’s high in antioxidants; and I can stop after having a couple without feeling deprived.
Instead of high fat nuts, I enjoy chestnuts: deliciously nutritious, low fat and easy to stop eating after having a few. For my omega 3 fatty acid boost, I include a spoonful of ground flax seed & chia seed in my morning cereal. For whatever reason, they seem quite benign when it comes to fueling cravings.
Instead of high fat vegan cheese, I enjoy a little nutritional yeast mixed into some cooked orange squash: it's a creamy, cheesy taste & texture, high in nutrition and low in fat.
Potato chips have never been my Monster, but they are for my hubby. So when he's struggling, we pop some plain corn or make the new-style microwave potato chips: lots of fun without the guilt. :-)
"But aren't these low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt substitutes boring?" you may ask.
When I was younger, I might have said yes. For me now though, "fun" is having a clear mind to appreciate the beauty & wonder of the natural world, the joys of loved ones and being consistent, even-tempered, calm & helpful.I've learned the hard way that giving into cravings, rather than satiating them, is like throwing gas on the fire.
We all have our priorities, and I have found by trial-and error, that the best way for me to be a good wife & mother, a supportive friend & constructive member of my community, is to be lean, fit & healthy. So me, avoiding SOS is worth it.