On Quora and Cravings
My sister is pregnant, and I’m the one craving peanut butter.
No, seriously. That’s all I want to eat. I’m not saying I’m sitting down with a spoon and a jar of peanut butter, like, LET’S DO THIS THING, but I’m finding ways to work the ingredient into a number of meals: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter smoothies, peanut butter and apples, peanut butter and bananas, cornflakes mixed in peanut butter and sprinkled on top of Greek yogurt.
I seriously am craving peanut butter. And, until recently, I couldn’t put my finger on why (more on that later).
I have this idea that my body craves the foods it needs. I don’t often have cravings, and when I do, it generally is for something I don’t often eat, like red meat or, you know, peanut butter.
But I think I got this idea from a Gwen Shamblin book.
Shamblin is the self-proclaimed “pioneer of faith-based weight loss” (and “the permanent solution to ALL addictions,” emphasis mine, but a grandiose claim which should set off some alarm bells right there). She is a very tiny woman with very big hair, but, so far as I can tell, she is not a doctor. She is a registered dietician. She also is the founder of The Weigh Down Workshop, Weigh Down Ministries and a church outside Nashville, as well as the “million-selling” author of “The Weigh Down Diet” (1997), “Rise Above” (2000) and several other books.
It’s “The Weigh Down Diet” I read in college. And — if memory serves me correct, because this doesn’t appear to have found a permanent home on my bookshelf — the premise was to eat only when you’re really hungry, and then eat what it is your body is telling you it really wants. Then stop eating when you’re full. And pray.
The eat-what-it-is-your-body-is-telling-you-it-really-wants part got me thinking, maybe there is something in peanut butter my body is trying to tell me it really needs. Protein, perhaps? I’ve recently stepped up my working out, and I’m not much of a voracious meat-eater.
Still not sold on Shamblin’s story (I’m a journalist, after all, and a tough sell), I decided to take the question of cravings to Quora.
Quora, to put it in terms everybody should understand, is like Facebook Questions without the Facebook, in the same way Twitter is like Facebook Statuses. It appeals to all us journalists, who, by nature and necessity, like to ask questions. It gives others the opportunity to position themselves as experts in their chosen fields with their insightful answers to related questions. And it got a lot of buzz at the end of 2010 as The New Twitter and THE Social Media Site Of The Year, which has led to equal buzz and speculation about when Quora will be dumbed-down and overcome by all the new users jumping on the latest fad.
That day has come.
I posted the question, “Do people crave certain foods because their body needs the nutrients in those foods?”
And here’s the answer I got, from somebody who actually purports to be a doctor and, moreover, a psychiatrist:
It’s not because your body needs the ingredients of peanut butter. It’s because peanut butter has become a substitute for being loved, soothed, and rewarded. It is all an illusion; a harmless one if you don’t eat too much, a harmful one if it is part of the pattern of emotional eating.
I have three responses to that response:
- Funny, I thought razzing strangers on the Internet was a substitute for being loved, soothed and rewarded.
- What is it with (some) men and thinking everything is always emotional with women and all about how we need to be placated because our lack of a penis makes our lives feel so unfulfilling all the time?
And, finally, I have the answer to why I’m craving peanut butter: One of my friends wisely pinpointed the start of the peanut butter thing to when I recently started taking The Pill. Which tricks your body into behaving as if it already were pregnant. And pregnant women crave things.