Fix This ONE Thing To Get A Handle On Your Cravings

This woman who got on the Mumbai train had an unusually large bag for a work commute. The last stop at VT was about an hour away, maximum. Thankfully, the train wasn’t as full and she found place for herself and the bag. She quickly opened a box and hurriedly ate up a vada-pav neatly packed in a steel box. I was speaking on my phone all along as I observed all this. As soon as I was done with the phone call, I got chatting with her as that little steel box had caught my attention.

The lady loved that I appreciated her box and meticulous packing – definitely not a norm for a regular commuter – and showed me her other boxes. She then casually mentioned her efforts to eat home cooked food. She did not want to end up diabetic like her siblings who eat most meals outside. So, she had employed a cook who, in her words “makes everything from chips, sev-mixture, puris for chaat, at home – healthily”.  And she carries two snacks and two larger meals so she doesn’t feel tempted to eat outside. ‘How lovely’, I remarked and before I could say another word, she broke into an impish smile and said, ‘I still buy a quarter kilo of cake and some chocolates from my colleague every week – she’s also just like me, likes to make everything at home and we work in the same office – it’s a great arrangement!’

Well, well well! 🙂 How many assumptions did you count already?

Everything/anything home cooked = healthy

Vada pav, cake, chocolates, made at home – therefore healthy = okay to eat several times a day

If one is eating homemade parathas for breakfast, vada pav for a mid-morning snack, some roti-sabji for lunch, vada pav again at tea time and roti-sabji for a quick dinner – part 1, with several rounds of chai and small tiny helpings of cake and chocolates in between to keep the cravings at bay – one is certainly eating a good quantity of food. And if it’s all homemade, it certainly hygienic in some sense. I am not disputing that at all.

Craving for food is not entirely taken care of by quantity and or frequent eating. This is a huge assumption and a flawed one at that.

Our bodies are designed to keep track of quality and quantity of the food we put in our mouths. This means that both conditions must be satisfied for the body to register satiety. This is why eating stuff like vada pav and sev mixture, cakes, chocolate and bhel puri will cause cravings. Why, you may ask. Though they all contain some healthy ingredients in them, but their overall quality as the final product does not add up to anything much – even though it was all made at home. Our body craves for nourishment in the form of vitamins and minerals, it’s not asking us to fill up some empty space with edible things. Paying attention to fix the nutritive quality of food we eat, is absolutely critical! It’s not about buying organic vegetables to make veggie chips or vadas out them.

Eating a boiled or steamed or baked potato is not the same as eating a deep fried vada.

Whole wheat is not the same nutritionally, as wheat flour used in roti or all purpose flour used in cake.

A sprinkling of grated carrot, cucumber and tomato et al in bhel puri will not make up for all the oily sev and puris.

Do you see what I’m saying?

All the sugar, oil and salt in these foods plus the processing involved, and the cooking method – makes the vada cause more craving! The very food that we eat to battle our craving causes more of it.

With what you know now, from reading this post, what would you suggest to the train lady if she were to ask you? Share away in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Fix This ONE Thing To Get A Handle On Your Cravings”

  1. If we don’t care of the amount of oil, sugar, and multigrain Atta or whole foods etc, it doesn’t make much difference if it is homemade or outside food. As you wrote, quantity, quality and frequency should be kept in mind. And yes, hygiene is definitely a thing to consider while choosing home made vs outside. Also, the quality of raw food material as adulteration is a big concern.

    • Exactly! With so much noise around, we sometimes fail to see the point. And yes Padma, food adulteration is a definite concern at the level of ingredients – after taking so much trouble to buy and spending money on such good quality ingredients, my hope is that people will use it on what’s truly healthful.

  2. I would definitely suggest her what I feel which is very similar to what you just said .. just coz it is home made a French fry is not the same as boiled potato

  3. So true Girija! It’s a vicious cycle or a virtuous cycle depending on the choices we make. If I eat vadas and Puris for a week, I end up just wanting more of them. If, however I eat the good things, I keep wanting more of the good things. As simple as that.

    • What an empowering observation is that Mrinalini! This is an out and out life lesson .. not just a nutrition one. Wow!!

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