Philomina Gwanfogbe Ph.D. spoke at the Clover’s Natural Foods Store on Wednesday, Sept 5. about our tendency to crave sweets, and what we can do about it. I’ve captured highlights from her talk below.
At the beginning of her talk, Phil told us that she was going to tell us things that would change our relationship with food forever. She was right. And I’ve been talking about it ever since.
The Body, she says, is always striving for balance. This is what it does, and it’s how we adapt to our environment, and survive in such diverse conditions.
Sugar is not the problem, she says. It’s the instantaneous solution, or the solution in the moment. It’s not the problem. It’s a solution. It gives us energy. It makes us feel happy.
She points out that in finding a balance, when we eat more yin foods (green leafy vegetables, sugar, alcohol), then our bodies achieve balance by sending a signal to the brain to take in more yang foods (meaty, salty, rooty). These are the foods that ground us. When we eat a lot of yang foods, like typical Americans do, we then crave yin foods to balance them out.
Food in restaurants, she notices, are typically high in salt and meat protein, which tend to make us feel the need for a sweet beverage (soda) to balance it out.
She also said that often when people crave sweets, it’s actually because they are thirsty. She says that most Americans are chronically dehydrated. She says you need to drink water whether you are thirsty or not. Think about this: the process of digestion takes place in the medium of liquids. If we are dehydrated, the absorption of nutrients in our food is compromised.
Here is a simple rule you can follow with regard to cravings. When I notice a craving, I can:
1) Take a few deep breaths, and notice what the craving feels like. If it’s still there,
2) Have a glass of water. If it’s still there,
3) Check to see if there are other causes for the craving (besides a need for food – more on this later).
Here’s an idea you have probably not thought about lately. Besides the foods we typically think of (that pass through our digestive systems – Secondary Foods), we have a need for what she calls Primary Foods. These include:
• Special Relationships
• Nourishing Spiritual Practices
• Satisfying Work/Career
• Things we love
• Loving Treatment of our Bodies
Phil says that Primary Foods are crucial to effective utilization of Secondary Foods. Imagine that. Primary foods are what can successfully fill the void we are trying to (but will never) fill with Secondary Foods. Think about that. She says that in the absence of Primary Foods, I will not only have a void, but I will have low energy, no matter how much I eat. Sure, I can do the sugar thing, but that is only a short-term fix. Treating low energy or “the void” with sugar is identical to any other addiction. It is an attempt to feel better, that actually makes things worse, and worse, and worse.
In summary, If I don’t fill my need for primary foods, I won’t ever be able to really satisfy my cravings.
Phil’s practice is built around the premise that the Body has a natural inborn ability to heal itself. I think that’s fantastic, and of course I believe that too. So let’s put this to the test. Remember the next time you have a craving, take a few deep breaths, drink a glass of water, and then check to see if you are still having your craving. Go ahead and eat what it is you are craving, but think about what is happening here. Make it a priority to take the necessary steps to meet your other important needs, that are so often overlooked and neglected. Phil recommends putting a list on the refrigerator for easy access. Here’s what my list of Primary Foods looks like today.
Since engaging in a creative project is one of my most important Primary Foods, I am going to make a project out of refining and presenting this list. I encourage you to begin working on a list of your own!
• Working on a creative project
• Learning new tools
• Connecting deeply with others
• The arts
• Reading a book
• Listening to my daughters play
• Sharing ideas
• Yard work
• Hard physical labor
• Camping with kids
• Sharing food
• To be held
• Hanging out downtown
• Spending time with a child
• Watching a sunset
• Seeing the sun rise
• Playing Pinochle
• Sharing a meal
Making sure that your Primary Food needs are met requires some time and effort, but, as Phil says, it is certainly worth it! Check out Phil’s online presence at www.mynaturalhealingability.com.