Tuesday, January 19, 2010

controlling the cravings, part 1

Craving: an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing.

A dieter's worst nightmare.

In the conventional dieting wisdom, cravings are inevitable. After all, the very act of restricting a food triggers cravings for it. A paradox, wrapped in a tortilla.

If you read any diet support group's board, you'll notice a curious language has developed around cravings. In this language, the self is passive, and the body is the actor. Cravings are something to which our bodies subject us. "My body craves" this. "My body craves" that. I "listened to" my body and "gave in to" the craving.

The language of craving sets up a dichotomy between our bodies and our selves. It subtly shifts responsibility for our dietary choices onto the body. The body becomes the evil and uncontrollable twin to our true selves, a comic-book villain whose only goal is to thwart our dreams of slenderness.

But, this dichotomy is completely false. Our bodies are ourselves. (Hmm, "Our bodies, Ourselves." Great title for a book. Oh, wait, it IS a book...) Eating shouldn't be the locus of an ongoing battle between good self and evil body, struggling against each other to control what goes into our mouths.

And, it makes no sense to blame our bodies for poor food choices. After all, we don't typically blame our bodies for other ill-advised acts. Imagine, if you will, that you are pulled over for speeding. Try talking your way out of a ticket by saying, "I swear, officer, I was trying to follow the traffic laws, but my body was craving speed so I gave in. Just this once."

Good luck with that.

Next time: dealing with cravings, and why "cheat days" can be counterproductive

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely agree. The more I examine my own eating and cheating habits, I'm quite aware of making the decision to eat off plan or binge. There is a split second there to rationally discard the idea, but more often, once the thought has been formulated, it is too late and then becomes a "craving". My body isn't craving anything, it's my head that went where it shouldn't have gone.