Small Businesses Rule! Please Keep Them Alive!

Shop Indie Bookstores

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cravings... What a Peculiar Thing!

Yesterday, before the Jack episode (previous blog entry today... and consequently, he is doing much better!) I had a good 30 minutes of time in the early evening where I sat feeling sorry for myself... for no reason, ofcourse. I am sure that you can empathize with this emotional state, for I think it is part of the human condition. In this moment of unadulterated and unjustifiable misery, I stared out of the billowing curtains into a stormy sky and dreamed of the whipped cream that I had tasted atop of a mocha latte that franks had enjoyed the prior evening. It wasn't the run-of-the-mill whippet variety whipped cream from a canister, it was something FAR more special. I truly think it was REAL whipped cream...heavy whipping cream...sweet, delicious perfection only enjoyed on Thanksgiving or the like(sigh). It was that moment that I waddled to my car, angsty as a teenager, wallet in hand, on a mission for the most divine whipped-cream topped iced mocha latte that the universe had to offer.

Alas, CitiSpot Coffee Shop in Clinton, NJ...a mere ten minutes from my home, fulfilled my dream, and even enticed me to indulge in one of their ethereal chocolate chip cookies, too (not much arm twisting was necessary).
Mission accomplished. While I crunched the remaining ice and licked the melted chocolate chips off of my lips and watched a passing storm go over the little town of Clinton, I pondered the existence of cravings. Where do they come from? I hardly think that my body had a deficiency in whipped cream and chocolate... and needed a fix to rid itself of unnecessary anger and frustration. The old dead days beyond recall of incessant cigarette smoking are certainly a thing of the past, and I cannot recall ever craving nicotine as passionately as I wanted that delectable whipped cream.

A writer by the name of Susan Brody wrote an article that delved into the craving phenomenonin an online issue of "Parent Magazine" that I thought was worthy of sharing:

"What is it about pregnancy that can turn a meat-eater against beef or make a vegetarian crave steak? How can it make one woman gaga for guacamole and another barf at the sight of broccoli? Some of it is hormone-related, says Janet Pope, PhD, an associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. Just as women have cravings at various stages of their menstrual cycle due to hormones, the same thing happens during pregnancy.

Some theories hold that there is also a wisdom of the body. A craving for milk might mean you need calcium; a craving for fruit may signal a need for vitamin C. In fact, fruit, milk, and milk products (as well as chocolate and salty snacks) are the most common pregnancy cravings, says Dr. Pope.

One thing we do know is that a woman's taste preferences change throughout pregnancy and these changes may affect what she chooses to eat. For example, moms-to-be tend to have a greater affinity for sweet foods (hello, chocolate!). Scientists think this could be caused by an increased need for calories during pregnancy.

Research conducted by Valerie Duffy, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Allied Health at the University of Connecticut in Storrs showed that women:

Liked sour tastes more in the second and third trimesters than in the first trimester or before pregnancy. Like a preference for sweet tastes, a sour preference helps women get a more varied diet later in pregnancy so they can get enough calories, says Dr. Duffy. A yen for sour foods also seems to explain the classic pickle craving. And since fruit is typically a combination of sweet and sour tastes, it also explains why fruit is the most common pregnancy craving.
Showed an increased preference for salty tastes -- which would include foods like potato chips and pickles (again!) -- as their pregnancy went along. During pregnancy, a woman's blood volume increases, so this taste change may be tied to her greater need for sodium.
Had an intensified perception of bitterness during the first trimester. Scientists suspect that being able to isolate bitter tastes during pregnancy is an evolutionary protection, because many toxic plants and fruits taste bitter. This taste change helps warn pregnant women against consuming poisons, such as alcohol, during critical phases of fetal development, agrees Dr. Duffy. Interestingly, the aversion to bitter tastes typically lessens by the third trimester, when the crucial phases of fetal development have ended."

Aha! A moment of clarity! But let's delve into cravings at a deeper level. In the February 21, 2010 supplement of "Psychology Today," definitely one of my favorite mags, a young writer by the name of Adi Jaffe who is a doctoral student going for his PHD in Psychology at UCLA examines cravings in a broader sense. Read on:

"In my studies of addiction, the concept of cravings comes up often. Researchers talk of 'wanting' versus 'liking' of drugs and of the idea that cravings are a programmed response to environmental signals that have been connected to drug use through experience.

What are drug-use cravings?

I agree with these descriptions and the idea that cravings are strong memories that are linked to the effect of drugs on the brain's neurochemistry.Indeed, imaging studies have shown some intense brain activation when pictures that are linked to drug use (like a pipe, or a white powdery substance resembling cocaine) are shown to addicts.

The immense neurotransmitter release that is often brought on by the ingestion of drugs is responsible both for the experience and the lasting effects on learning. When it comes down to it, memories are really the brain re-experiencing an event, so it makes sense that reliving a drug, sex, or other past-compulsive experience would cause a serious emotional reaction. When one remembers, cortical areas associated with the sights, sounds, smells, and thoughts related to the event are activated in a manner very similar to the initial experience.

Still, aside from all the research, I know very well what cravings feel like.

I know the intoxication you feel the moment that memory hits you and your entire body tingles with anticipation. It's as if your whole being is crying out saying 'This is what we've been waiting for. Give it to me!!!' I never know to expect it, but when they hit, there's no questioning - I know that a craving has just taken over me. It's no wonder that people go out over these things, especially early on in recovery.

How to deal with cravings
I'm now at the point where no matter how strong the craving, I'm not about to throw everything I've worked for out the window for another hit. But still, it's just so damn tempting.

When you have a craving, recognize it for what it is. You might as well enjoy the rush, it's like a freebie you don't get to control. By being scared of the feeling, you induce more anxiety and shame that may lead you to act out. Instead, recognize your lack of control over the craving, let the experience happen, and go on with your life.

If the experience is overwhelming, make sure there's someone you can talk to about it (a therapist, partner, parent, or 12 step sponsor). As time passes your cravings will become less and less frequent, though without specific treatment, their intensity will likely not go away. Cravings are a part os the reality of addiction - knowing what to do with them is a key to success."

For now, I will chalk it up to the pollywog brewing in my womb, and I will...simply enjoy the REAL whipped cream.

Here are a few great reads to check out:

And two things that I (ironically...or is it coincidentally) crave or haved craved and different points in my life, Iron and Wine, happens to be the name of my Download-of-the-day.

This album has some of the most beautiful tunes - Feast Your Ears!
xo Amanda

No comments:

Post a Comment