I’ve been working on making lifestyle changes to help my allergies and allergy-related skin problems and two big changes are introducing raw honey and coconut oil to my diet.
Although I started consuming both to help strengthen my immune system, I’ve found they also help cut my cravings for junk food.
This is huge and pleasant surprise! I’ve been a life-long lover of junk food, both chips and sodas, and my cravings for both are almost gone.
My junk food past
Growing up, my mom considered me her problem eater because I was so picky about what I’d eat (and still am truth be told). She fixed healthy dinners for her brood but, once I ventured out on my own and held more demanding jobs, my interest in cooking plummeted. The result? I ate junkier meals which eventually lead to also eating junky between-meal snacks.
And in the last few years, I became a soft drink freak. Up until this past December, I drank at least 1 liter a day of diet soda if not closer to 1-1/2 liters. Every day.
Aside from the sugar, soda is also bad because it's a highly acidic food. Our bodies do best when we have an more alkaline digestive environment – and honey is modestly alkaline food.
I started first by eating raw honey and have substituted it for refined sugar. And I added coconut oil to my diet about 2 weeks later. My daily goal for sugar is no more than 3 TBSP a day and this covers raw honey with some wiggle room for the sugars that are ingredients in processed foods. As for coconut oil, I’m working on getting about 3 TBSP per day into my diet in the form of either the straight oil or coconut milk.
Here are some of the ways I’m eating honey and coconut oil:
- Warm lemon or lime water with honey (using a whole piece of fruit) – This is my “first thing in the morning” drink.
- Apple cider vinegar, ginger and honey water (sometimes I add a half a spoonful of coconut oil) – After every meal drink.
- Plain yogurt with honey.
- Oatmeal with honey.
- Black tea (decaf) and coconut milk drink with honey.
- Warm milk (cow and coconut) about 1 hour before bedtime.
- Toast, with a substitution of coconut oil for butter – with and without honey.
- Coconut oil for cooking.
- Coconut milk.
- Smoothies with either coconut oil or milk.
I don’t eat all of these things everyday, though since I’m keeping a cap on how much honey I eat. But since I limit my honey to about a spoonful in any of them and my spoons equal about a teaspoon (and a little more than 3 teaspoons equals a tablespoon). This means I can have up to about 7 spoonfuls of honey a day (that’s allowing for some sugar in processed foods).
Junk food cravings are dampened
Wow! Since I started eating both raw honey and coconut oil, my cravings for junkie foods is way down.
On days when I eat on a regular schedule, I don’t get very hungry between meals. And if I do, then fruit, a glass of V8 juice, or a small serving of yogurt with coconut oil and honey hits the spot.
There are boatloads of folks talking about losing weight by adding coconut oil and honey (in moderation) into your diet. That hasn’t happened with me yet (and weight loss wasn’t my prime motivator). I’ll let you know if that changes though.
I still eat chips, mind you, but I eat them much less frequently and in a much lower quantity. Before, I’d rarely go a day without a mess of chips. Now, I might have them every other day and, then, a modest amount satisfies me.
What's just as astounding is I don’t feel deprived by not eating as much junk as I would have in my old pre-honey and pre-coconut oil days.
Why junk food cravings are dampened
Based on my personal anecdotal results, combined with research, I see two factors at play in my loss of junk food cravings.
First, coconut oil is another a super food. Organic Facts writes,
The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.
To get on the coconut oil train, though, you’re going to have to blast through some myths about fats. Some fats, like coconut oil are good for you – but you’ll have to move beyond negative PR campaigns waged by the vegetable oil lobbies.
Coconut oil does have saturated fats but they’re good ones and Brian and Marianita Shilhavy sum it up well.
Coconut oil contains what are called medium chain fatty acids, or medium chain triglycerides (MCTs for short). These medium chain fatty acids are different from the common longer chain fatty acids found in other plant-based oils. Most vegetable oils are composed of longer chain fatty acids, or triglycerides (LCTs). LCTs are typically stored in the body as fat, while MCTs are burned for energy. MCTs burn up quickly in the body. They are a lot like adding kindling to a fireplace, rather than a big damp log.
Note, thought, the healthy coconut oil is the raw or virgin variety and not the refined kind. The refining process strips out almost all no proteins and minerals and robs you of the health benefits (follow this linkto learn about how coconut oil is processed for sale).
Raw coconut oil is solid at room temperature (and it turns to liquid at 75-76 degrees F). Because it’s highly stable, it has a looooong shelf life.
The second factor dampening my junk food cravings is honey. Now this is more my personal observation than necessarily a hard, scientific fact.
With all my allergies, my body’s weakened immune system needed energy and eating junk gave it quick boost. However, with honey, I get the same quick boost but also have a more constant blood sugar level.
Combining coconut oil and honey together gives me a powerful set of energy foods that help to regulate my blood sugar. And bam, my interest in junk food is down and my interest in healthy foods are way up.
Raw honey tips
If you add honey to your diet, be sure it’s raw honey. Most of the honey sold in grocery stores is processed honey that has add all the live enzymes and yeast cooked out of it. I wrote about what raw honey and where to buy it in this article.
If you're a local to the Baltimore-Washington area and want to have a good local source of honey, try Really Raw Honey. I found this honey at my local Whole Foods in Northern Virginia.
Really Raw a Baltimore-based company (and more importantly Baltimore-based bees). It might take a little getting used to this honey because it really is raw - which means it still contains bits of honeycomb and propolis but that's part of the good stuff to help combat allergies. But it's good.
The honeycomb and propolis is at the top of the jar. I scraped it off and put into into a small jar for temporary storage. Then, when I want honey, I take a bit of the comb/propolis and add it to the bigger spoonful.
Coconut oil tips
Like honey, you want to get the raw or virgin type of coconut oil. Refining coconut oil also cooks out the valuable nutrients.
Another way to consume coconut oil is by drinking coconut milk. Coconut milk isn’t the same as the water poured out of an open coconut. Instead the milk is made by pressing the thick, white flesh of a well-matured coconut.
If you buy coconut milk via brands like Silk or So Delicious, be sure to read the labels. Many of them include cane sugar in their ingredients, as well as other stabilizers.
Here are some commercial sources I found to find virgin coconut oil and coconut milk:
- Whole Foods (oil and milk).
- Grocery stores with natural food isles (My Giant has So Delicious Unsweetened milk but refined oil).
- Tropical Traditions (they sell virgin oil, Coconut Cream Concentrate you can mix with water to make milk and also shredded coconut you can use to make milk. I plan to try the concentrate).
- Wilderness Family (they sell milk powder).
Update: 1/4/12 - Making coconut milk
I made my own coconut milk using a simple process described by Crunchy Betty. It's delish and better yet, unsweetened. I found the shredded coconut at my local Giant grocery store in the natural foods section.