Earlier this week Karen, from Waisting Time (yet another of my favourite blogs) asked ‘why we crave the things we crave?’ She talked about her love of ‘texture’ and craving of bread, dry cereal and crackers. She occasionally has a craving for taste, she says, like something sweet or salty, but it’s mostly about the texture.
Despite being such an overanalyser I realised I’ve never thought a lot about this. I mean, I know I crave chocolate or corn chips as my binge-food, but why, I wondered. Why a certain brand of cheese flavoured gluten free corn chips or flavoured popcorn rather than other gluten-free chips or salty crackers? And why caramello koalas and not a block of caramello chocolate? Or why a bag of mini Twirls or Flakes and not chocolate biscuits or cake? Why hot chips and not pizza?
Surely if I work this out, peace in the Middle East; or the meaning of life will be next.
But, it did get me thinking about it and what I realised is that – when it comes to my cravings, I am all about taste. If there are no cheese corn chips I won’t buy BBQ flavoured, or plain. Nope. I won’t even buy other types of gluten-free chips. And if there are no bags of caramello koalas, I won’t buy freddo frogs. Nope. No siree. As a long-term binge-eater, I’m very specific about my cravings.
I’m well aware, for example, that substitutions are simply not acceptable. I do have my standards, after all! On many an occasion my local grocery store has had no bags of caramello koalas. After I pick myself up off the floor following a tantrum to rival a 2yr old, I peruse the remainder of the very long and well-stocked chocolate aisle. I will often go for a close second. Belgium chocolates; bags of Flakes or Twirls; Lindt balls; or if really desperate, a block of Cadbury’s cashew or caramello chocolate.
But… without fail – although I assume I do enjoy the just-as-unhealthy substitute – the craving remains unsated, so rather than get past it or recover from the binge, later that day, or the next day or the next, I still need to go and buy those bloody koalas.
So, it seems, taste is all-important.
But, as I contemplated my cravings and habits, it occurred to me that the other key aspect was the ‘form’ my binge food takes. It has to take a while to eat. This is why a 200g bag of caramello koalas is more fulfilling than a 200g block of caramello chocolate. The block of chocolate can be inhaled unconsciously, with little consideration or enjoyment; whereas the 12 koalas have to be individually unwrapped and eaten. One by one.
Hot chips, corn chips, popcorn…. they all take some time to eat. And for me there’s always some ceremony attached. I’ve talked about this in my binge-eating posts: sure I don’t eat mindfully, but I pay ‘some’ attention to the process of eating as I sit in front of something ‘good’ on television. I don’t eat when I read; I don’t eat watching the news or similarly uninteresting shows; and shovelling in pizza or a block of chocolate would mean that the ceremony, the ritual, would be over in seconds. VERY unfulfilling!
I eat quickly but I eat my corn chips or pieces of popcorn one by one, rather than in fistfuls. I like to eke the process out as long as possible – which is why I like eating cake or biscuit batter spoon-lick by spoon-lick, rather than cake or biscuits. Perhaps there’s something comforting about the bowl to mouth movement. I just don’t know. But I do know what I like and what I don’t. And I do know what gives me a sense of fulfilment. Weird and pitiful though it may sound.
Like Karen I’m interested in what others crave. My mother, for example, would say mango, or fruit… whereas I would rather gnaw my own arm off. I rarely (never?) crave healthy foods: vegetables, meat and the like. And I’d have to be really in the throes of a binge to cook up a stir fry.So… What do you crave? What are your danger foods?