I spent practically the whole day yesterday craving Peking duck. Kind of bizarre, I know. Not that there’s anything wrong with Peking duck. I love it. But it is an odd ‘craving’ to have. Most people crave sweets, or salty snacks. And of course we all know what weird things pregnant women crave. This, however, is unusual.
But, at least in my case, it’s not so surprising. Here’s what happened. In the morning I got an email letting me know that a WordPress blogger ‘liked’ one of my posts. Theirs was not a blog I had seen before, so I immediately clicked on the link. What was the post that I zeroed in on? A recipe for Peking duck. And that was all it took.
That’s all I wanted to eat for the rest of the day.
Mmmmm. The slivers of moist, yet still crispy duck. The cucumber. The scallions. All wrapped up in those nice, little pancakes. And the hoisin sauce. Thinking about it now, it might be the hoisin sauce that I craved the most. And because it’s me, I always have to add some hot sauce. There’s one I really love. Cannot remember what it’s called, but it’s the consistency of mustard. It’s red, though. I go through dishes of it. I put it on everything.
Do you have any idea how easy it would have been for me to get some Peking duck? There’s a very good Chinese restaurant, within walking distance to where I live. In fact, I walked right by it, on my way to get groceries. So why didn’t I go in? Who knows? Maybe I wanted to test my resolve. Ha!! Big mistake.
So what did I do?
I ate everything in sight, instead. The worst thing you can do when you have a craving, is to ignore it. This I learned years ago, At Weight Watchers. Their mantra is, ignore a craving at your peril. If you give in to it, and just have a small portion of whatever it is, that’s it, craving over. You get it out of your system. Eat everything, in moderation. No damage done.
If, on the other hand, you ignore it, you’re doomed. You will stand in front of an open fridge and eat and eat and eat and eat, in an attempt to distract yourself from what you really want. And pile on the pounds, while you’re at it.
Luckily my fridge was pretty empty at the time, and my options were limited. So I couldn’t do that much damage. I did, however, eat peanut butter right off the spoon. A chunk of cheddar. Some lettuce. A tangerine. A yoghurt. Four crackers. And three TicTacs.
All because I wanted Peking duck.
Was I satisfied, after all that? No. And in case you’re wondering, nothing I bought at the grocery store satisfied my craving either. So when I got back home I decided to see if a little online snooping would shed some light on what causes cravings. And give me something other than Peking duck to think about. Besides, I was curious. First, I found these theories:
- We crave the foods we deny ourselves. Like eliminating chocolate, when we’re dieting.
- We tend to crave food when our blood sugar is lowest. At 4 p.m., for example, when we’re in between lunch and dinner. Carrying healthy snacks around can help control these urges.
- Some cravings are triggered by memories. Like the one I had yesterday, actually. The minute I read ‘Peking duck’, I remembered how it tasted; and it was a good memory. So good, it was too good, if you know what I mean.
- We crave what our bodies need. It’s not potato chips we want, it’s salt that we may need, especially on very hot days, when we’ve perspired a lot, and haven’t had enough water.
- Cravings can be exacerbated when we’re bored, angry or stressed. Otherwise known as emotional eating. Or even worse, binging. Danger, danger, danger.
Then I found this interesting insight: What a craving isn’t about, is hunger. It’s about wanting a specific food, or taste. I get cravings for hot sauce, for example. And until I have something spicy, I cannot get rid of the desire for it. And it never has anything to do with my being hungry. I may have just had a meal. It’s just about wanting/needing something hot and spicy.
Pregnant women are different, though. Their cravings can be caused by pregnancy hormones. Or a deficiency of some kind. Or just a need for some extra calories, because their body’s main purpose, at that time, is to provide nourishment for the baby; and they need more. But nothing explains wanting pickles and ice cream.
Although, having said that, despite not being a chocolate or dessert lover, I have had the occasional craving for something sweet and something salty, or spicy, at the same time. Who’d have thought we’d ever see chocolate covered pretzels. But they sell them. I won’t be buying them any time soon, but people must or they wouldn’t be on the shelves in most grocery stores. So maybe one of these days, Ben & Jerry’s will add a new flavour to their repertoire: Crunchy Vanilla? Deli Vanilli? Cornichons and Cream?
But until then? I’m meeting a friend tonight and we’re going for Peking duck.