WHY CRISIS CAUSES CRAVINGS

ALCOHOL, SUGAR AND QUARANTiNE – WHY CRISIS CAUSES CRAVINGS

Being quarantined for weeks is unusual. For weeks that feel like Christmas holidays on the loop: there are no stressful visits scheduled, but we are surrounded by a lot of comfort food to help with relaxation or serve as entertainment. Somehow it seems harder to resist the lure of cakes, chocolates and drinks. But why? Traditional Chinese Medicine, biology and upbringing provide some answers. In addition this article offers alternative choices and answers the question as to when turning to drink and food becomes dangerous.

TCM

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) every organ is connected to emotions. According to TCM the liver not only regulates detoxification, sugar metabolism and blood supply, it also responsible for emotions of anger, passiveness, helplessness, having no choice, and change. Stress and pressure are hard on your liver. In extreme situations, liver together with the gall bladder shall provide the energy for growth and help as adjust. 

That’s the reason alcohol and greasy foods have a calming effect. They keep liver and gallbladder occupied and thereby dampen our awareness of the associated emotions.  

At least for a few moments sweet drinks, sugar, and desserts are a blessing. They activate spleen and stomach. The emotions associated with spleen are fear of the future, confidence, and (self-)reliance. Spleen and stomach together support digesting as well as  sharing or thoughts freely. 

A craving for sweet food isn’t always what it seems to be. The need for sugary things can be triggered by thirst. The body is only able to send the signal of thirst if enough water is left. Without water it has to send a coded message instead. I want sugar is code for: give me water.

Kidneys and bladder need water to function properly. TCM attributes fear, inner guidance, anxiety, and despondency to bladder and kidney. The more fear we experience, the more work there is for the kidneys. To keep up the good work they need water. If they don’t get it deficiency symptoms are likely to occur: cravings, fear, or bladder infections.

FOOD, ENDORPHINS AND EDUCATION

Endorphins are part of the brains chemical messengers, the so-called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are adept at division of work, assigning specialised tasks to every group. Endorphins are released to reduce pur perception of pain. Our body also releases endorphins to make us feel good that’s why they were dubbed happiness hormones.  

Chocolates and carbs contain a lot of those happiness hormones. That’s why it’s so hard to remove them from our diet. 

Research suggest that our upbringing might influence the release of endorphins. Experience taught us that food makes one happy. We celebrate with food, reward  extraordinary achievements, heal heartbreaks with chocolate cookies ice cream, cure boredom with crisps, and if you behaved well, you got dessert. 

All this junk is now able to make you feel happy – because of your experience and its inert endorphin storage. 

NEUROTRANSMITTERS AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM 

All neurotransmitters do have a direct effect on the immune system. In recent years scientists were able to proof this effect. Fear, joy, shock, and pain result in a release of these chemicals. That’s not always a good thing. Psychological distress leads to cortisol release, which inhibits the immune system. The lymphatic system too is weakened by reactions to psychological factors. (cf Karger)

One must bear in mind that it is not only one’s own fear that is capable of provoking these reactions. Good mood, but also other emotions, are contagious. Quantum physics provides the explanation for this: experiments have shown that information transfer also works between cells (people) that are not connected to each other by telephone etc. Plants and trees also communicate with each other in this manner, which is shown in a BBC documentary. 

Fact is: others’ fear does not leave us unaffected. It is contagious, in both senses of the word. It grips us, and it weakens the immune system. Therefore it is important to address this fact carefully.

IDEAS

A healthy diet, sufficient amounts of water and conscious mental demarcation help. 

Healthy alternatives to chocolate are compotes, nuts purée, and smoothies. Dancing, music and a walk in the fresh air make you (and your liver) happy. A vegetable-based diet strengthens the immune system. In addition, the system (body-mind-soul-energy) uses less energy when processing food and thus has more room for external stress (psychosocial stress, electrosmog, fears, …) Deep breathing, good chewing and creative work are also healthy and support the liver. Painting, handicrafts, writing, making music are wonderful ways to relax or to get together as a family. 

All these ideas do support your organs and help you deal with emotions. 

Facts about addiction / alcoholism / eating disorders

ALCOHOL(ISM) / ADDICTION IN GENERAL

One is not only alcoholic when one reaches for beer every morning. Forms of alcoholism range from the so-called episodic and occasional drinker to the delta and intoxicated alcoholics. It is difficult to define when someone crosses the threshold from enjoying a drink to being ill. 

Signs of addiction (alcohol, drugs..) can be an increased craving, altered social behaviour, loss of control and withdrawal symptoms. 

Women metabolise alcohol more slowly than men, the harmful effects are worse (source: WHO)

EATING DISORDERS

Eating disorders are on the rise in areas where an excess of food meets other factors, such as the pressure of being slim. The best known forms of eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating. 

An eating disorder is a behavioural disorder in which constant mental and emotional preoccupation with the topic of “eating” plays a central role. Eating disorders concern the intake of food or its refusal. They are usually related to psychosocial problems as well as to the attitude towards one’s own body (psychosomatic medicine) and can lead to serious and long-term damage to health. Eating disorders are often symptoms of a deeply hidden (mental) problem. If the cause is not found, healing is difficult or there is a risk that the addiction will shift. An eating disorder must be treated differently from substance abuse. Food is essential for life.

If food is the only consolation, your child is conspicuously little, or follows ‘scrawny’ role models, seeking help may be indicated. 

Sources: Dr. Anita Johnston, WHO, Wikipedia