Struggling with cravings

matthewk1462

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Hey guys. I've been vegetarian for about 5 years. I rarely find myself craving meat but about 3 months ago i went vegan and some days I get awful cravings. I almost get angry that I cant just go to the shop and buy some dairy chocolate or a cheese string.

I know the damage it does to my body, I know the damage it does to the environment and I knew the suffering animals go through to make the food but yet I still crave it. I feel awful. The cravings havent gotten even slightly better. It is really starting to affect me. I'm miserable because I cant eat what makes me happy but I am just an awful person for eating it if I do. I feel guilty for even craving it and those moments where all i want to do is go to the shop and spend £20 on dairy products.

How do I deal with this. How do I make it go away? Will it always be like this. Will I constantly be fighting this urge because I am not sure I could deal with this long term,

Thanks for any help.
 

Lou

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I used to have cravings, too. I read a bit on the subject. I'll try to find the articles again and post them at the bottom.

but to sort of summarize what I learned, cravings, for the most part, are not real.

The only craving that should be paid attention to is Thirst. Even hunger can not be entirely trusted. A lot of people get hunger and thirst mixed up. Try this experiment: next time you feel hungry but don't think you should be hungry (like you just ate), have a glass of water. For most people the hunger goes away.

Psycholoigists have categorized the other cravings. There are cases where an actual deficiency triggers a craving. But these are extremely rare. And no pregnant women craving ice cream to meet their increased calcium requirement is not really evidence of nutrient based cravings. Most cravings are for fat, salt, and sugar and I doubt anyone is deficient in those.

Some cravings are based on biology. but strangely enough its the microbes in your gut that have figured out ways to trick our brains with our own hormones. Some gut bacteria thrive on sugar and will send out messages to our brain to try to get us to eat sweets. I sort of recall that the bacteria play that game with fat, too. . A couple of weeks on a WFPB diet should get your gut biome back in order.

The other category of cravings are all psychological. The example that sticks in my head is the nostalgia one. Like if your mom always made roast beef on Sundays and you miss your mom you might crave roast beef. Its sort of a psychological crossed wire where your brain equates roast beef to mom.

The one thing that is for sure is that they can be safely ignored. And the other thing is that they do go away over time. One strategy that has been suggested to deal with these is sort of like a re-training program. Every time you have a craving for roast beef you eat mashed potatoes. Eventually your brain will equate mom with mashed potatoes.

One craving that appears a lot in the literature is for dairy like you are reporting. Especially cheese. There is some evidence that cheese cravings might also have a biological component. There is some component of cheese that acts similarly to cocaine or heroin or something. Some there is a bit of an addiction to it.

salty foods are sort of addicting as well. In one study they examined the brain activity when given things like fat, sugar, salt, and cocaine. Combining fat, salt, and sugar provided very similar brain activity as cocaine. Which totally explains why people will wait in line for a $7 salted Carmel mocha.

Some of these types of cravings are because your brain wants these things that increase your serotonin levels. Exercise can also release serotonin. so instead of running to the store to get some cheese or ice cream, try just running. :)






 

David3

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Hey guys. I've been vegetarian for about 5 years. I rarely find myself craving meat but about 3 months ago i went vegan and some days I get awful cravings. I almost get angry that I cant just go to the shop and buy some dairy chocolate or a cheese string.

I know the damage it does to my body, I know the damage it does to the environment and I knew the suffering animals go through to make the food but yet I still crave it. I feel awful. The cravings havent gotten even slightly better. It is really starting to affect me. I'm miserable because I cant eat what makes me happy but I am just an awful person for eating it if I do. I feel guilty for even craving it and those moments where all i want to do is go to the shop and spend £20 on dairy products.

How do I deal with this. How do I make it go away? Will it always be like this. Will I constantly be fighting this urge because I am not sure I could deal with this long term,

Thanks for any help.
.
A wide variety of vegan dairy foods/sweets are available in the UK. They have ice cream, cheeses, etc. Do you like those?
.
 

Lou

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welcome to the forum

If you have constant cravings for anything then you just be hungry.... have you checked Cronometer to be sure you are getting enough calories?

Emma JC
Find your vegan soulmate or just a friend. www.spiritualmatchmaking.com
I don't think even "hunger" is something that we can trust.
For instance, sometimes right after a big meal I am hungry. I've read that it might be that it takes a while for the nutrients to hit the bloodstream and the brain to hit the not hungry switch. but I think it might also be conditioning. Like, my brain is expecting dessert.

And maybe surprising, some people get hunger and thirst confused.

But like Emma and David said it might be that you can just eat something else. And that also can act as conditioning. So every time you want ice cream or cheese you have an apple with peanut butter.
 

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JacobEdward

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You guys have Walmart in the UK right?
idk how anybody could have cravings
 
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VeganAnon

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Hey guys. I've been vegetarian for about 5 years. I rarely find myself craving meat but about 3 months ago i went vegan and some days I get awful cravings. I almost get angry that I cant just go to the shop and buy some dairy chocolate or a cheese string.

I know the damage it does to my body, I know the damage it does to the environment and I knew the suffering animals go through to make the food but yet I still crave it. I feel awful. The cravings havent gotten even slightly better. It is really starting to affect me. I'm miserable because I cant eat what makes me happy but I am just an awful person for eating it if I do. I feel guilty for even craving it and those moments where all i want to do is go to the shop and spend £20 on dairy products.

How do I deal with this. How do I make it go away? Will it always be like this. Will I constantly be fighting this urge because I am not sure I could deal with this long term,

Thanks for any help.
Depends on the craving.

Some could be your body calling out for nutrients that it used to get from meat but now you need to supply from other sources. Make sure you are getting your vitamins and minerals and folic acids and stuff from your diet. Make sure to listen, is there anything other than meat that you are craving? I met someone once that after giving up meat craved licorice, the icky black kind, cause it had something in it that she used to get from meat.

Other cravings......it's like other addictions. It gets better with time and eventually the idea of what you craved may actually disgust you. Or you may sometimes struggle with it. Just remember that if you give in, it isn't the end of the world, just start again.

Hugs and best wishes.
 
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poivron

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I used to have cravings, too. I read a bit on the subject. I'll try to find the articles again and post them at the bottom.

but to sort of summarize what I learned, cravings, for the most part, are not real.

The only craving that should be paid attention to is Thirst. Even hunger can not be entirely trusted. A lot of people get hunger and thirst mixed up. Try this experiment: next time you feel hungry but don't think you should be hungry (like you just ate), have a glass of water. For most people the hunger goes away.

Psycholoigists have categorized the other cravings. There are cases where an actual deficiency triggers a craving. But these are extremely rare. And no pregnant women craving ice cream to meet their increased calcium requirement is not really evidence of nutrient based cravings. Most cravings are for fat, salt, and sugar and I doubt anyone is deficient in those.

Some cravings are based on biology. but strangely enough its the microbes in your gut that have figured out ways to trick our brains with our own hormones. Some gut bacteria thrive on sugar and will send out messages to our brain to try to get us to eat sweets. I sort of recall that the bacteria play that game with fat, too. . A couple of weeks on a WFPB diet should get your gut biome back in order.

The other category of cravings are all psychological. The example that sticks in my head is the nostalgia one. Like if your mom always made roast beef on Sundays and you miss your mom you might crave roast beef. Its sort of a psychological crossed wire where your brain equates roast beef to mom.

The one thing that is for sure is that they can be safely ignored. And the other thing is that they do go away over time. One strategy that has been suggested to deal with these is sort of like a re-training program. Every time you have a craving for roast beef you eat mashed potatoes. Eventually your brain will equate mom with mashed potatoes.

One craving that appears a lot in the literature is for dairy like you are reporting. Especially cheese. There is some evidence that cheese cravings might also have a biological component. There is some component of cheese that acts similarly to cocaine or heroin or something. Some there is a bit of an addiction to it.

salty foods are sort of addicting as well. In one study they examined the brain activity when given things like fat, sugar, salt, and cocaine. Combining fat, salt, and sugar provided very similar brain activity as cocaine. Which totally explains why people will wait in line for a $7 salted Carmel mocha.

Some of these types of cravings are because your brain wants these things that increase your serotonin levels. Exercise can also release serotonin. so instead of running to the store to get some cheese or ice cream, try just running. :)







Wow. This explains so much. In my early years of veganism, I used to have occasional cravings for meat, and I interpreted them as my body needing protein. I found that if I ate a pretty large piece of tofu with a little soy sauce on top, the craving went away almost immediately. Much later, I learned that we don't actually need a lot of protein, and I couldn't understand why the tofu trick worked. Now, thanks to your informative post, I know that I simply trained my brain to associate meat with tofu.
 
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Tom L.

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Welcome, @matthewk1462 !

In my experience, veganism (or strict vegetarianism- the two aren't exactly the same) is appreciably more restrictive than vegetarianism. (Not nearly impossible, no- but it's definitely a jump.) Way back when I became pescetarian; then 4 years later, stopped eating fishes and other neurologically-simpler animals; and then decades later, started dropping dairy and eggs. While the first two changes were literally overnight (even though I'd been thinking about them for a time), the last one took years- and I sometimes wonder if I should identify as "vegetarian" instead of "strict vegetarian", since I sometimes consume foods with small amounts of egg or milk (maybe about 6 times per year at most?)

On the one hand I don't want to lie. On the other hand, I need to aim for that standard, and I find that if I identify as "strict vegetarian", it helps me to live up to that (whether anyone is looking or not).
 
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Tom L.

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@matthewk1462 Argh- I should have fully answered your question (partial quote below):
How do I deal with this. How do I make it go away? Will it always be like this. Will I constantly be fighting this urge because I am not sure I could deal with this long term,

Thanks for any help.
I don't think it will always be like this for you. Although dropping non-vegan foods took longer for me, it did become easier as time went on. I don't know if it was because I just had more of a craving for these foods. You've probably heard or read about people having trouble with giving up cheese- lots of people do- but for me it was actually just plain white milk (2% or full-fat). (When you remember that it's supposed to be for a very young mammal- not an adult food, and certainly not a normal food for the adult of a different species- you have to wonder how it ever became a common thing. But there you go.)

Find the balance between having patience with yourself for making a big change, and pushing yourself a bit if you feel you need it. And figure out exactly what it is about those foods you're missing, and see if you can find healthy (hopefully cheap) vegan substitutes.
 

David3

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Hey guys. I've been vegetarian for about 5 years. I rarely find myself craving meat but about 3 months ago i went vegan and some days I get awful cravings. I almost get angry that I cant just go to the shop and buy some dairy chocolate or a cheese string.

I know the damage it does to my body, I know the damage it does to the environment and I knew the suffering animals go through to make the food but yet I still crave it. I feel awful. The cravings havent gotten even slightly better. It is really starting to affect me. I'm miserable because I cant eat what makes me happy but I am just an awful person for eating it if I do. I feel guilty for even craving it and those moments where all i want to do is go to the shop and spend £20 on dairy products.

How do I deal with this. How do I make it go away? Will it always be like this. Will I constantly be fighting this urge because I am not sure I could deal with this long term,

Thanks for any help.
.
Hi Matthew,

Could you give us a list of the specific foods (brand name and everything) that you crave? We may be able to find you very satisfying, or even nearly identical, vegan matches.
.
 
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