Jim here... About an hour ago, I purchased $68 worth of ice cream from a local supermarket. Bet you thought you'd never read something like that here, eh ? Well, don't worry -- Wendi and I haven't suddenly decided to binge on dairy products. You see, in my corporate job, I'm often the event organizer; today that meant ice cream gopher.

For some raw foodies, that scenario might seem rather cruel. You may be thinking: Isn't it tough to have to go purchase nine tubs of ice cream, two jars of maraschino cherries, two bags of marshmallows, four containers of flavored syrups, two cans of whipped cream, and numerous boxes of waffle cones ? No, it's not cruel at all. To me, it's now the same as running out for, say, office supplies.

I suppose that's what I wanted to write about today -- to offer anyone to whom the above scenario might sound difficult some hope and some assurance that, in time, your view of some foods that hold power over you now will likely change. Your brain will begin to regard non-raw-food items as non-foods. It just takes a while to get to this place.

In the beginning, it's more about perseverance, your steadfast belief that what you're doing is right. This ties in well with what Wendi posted yesterday: Perseverance because you love yourself, perseverance because you understand that you're pursuing optimal health, perseverance because you have faith in the rightness of your actions.The bonus is that, in time, when you stick with the program, it'll be easier and easier to persevere because you'll see results; as your health challenges fade and you begin to come alive more than ever, it's easier than ever to surmount cravings.

So, what I'm saying is that perseverance is essentially stage one of overcoming cravings. Stage two is the change in your perception of foods. When you get to this stage (and, I think this often happens one cooked / packaged food at a time), you literally fail to regard whatever it is as food. As such, there are no cravings or temptations to bother you. It's like that little kid in The Matrix who says "Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth." This is your path as well. Perseverance is the path toward realizing there is no spoon -- realizing that much of what you have always thought of as food is not food. It's exactly as magical as that.

The good news:? I believe this is especially easy when it comes to many packaged foods.For example, I'm no longer tempted by ice cream at all. The fact that packaged ice cream has no strong smell might be what makes this particular item so easy to "get over." If I were sent out for, say, fresh-cooked pizza from a pizza shop, the trip would no doubt have been more difficult for me (especially if it were near lunch time and I felt peckish to begin with).

Pizza still smells good to me. No, it smells really good. I'm not going to eat it, of course, because I do not believe it is good for me. So, my not eating pizza falls more in the first domain of perseverance right now than it does with the more "enlightened" domain of changed perception. But, hey, that's okay... it's all part of the journey.

Of course, some may counter, "Well, sure, pizza may not be healthy, but it definitely makes you happy." Famous diva Sheryl Crowe might even opine that, "if it makes you happy, it can't be that bad." The question is:? Why does it make you happy ? Why does giving in to cravings make us happy ?

Hmmm, I think that's assumptive... Here's a better question: Does giving into cravings in fact make us happy Let's be clear here... We're talking about cooked food cravings. If you're reading this blog, we'll assume that you understand and have already "bought into" the premise that cooked foods aren't providing your body with the nutrition it wants and needs. No one's stating here that, if you have a craving for, say, an organic Granny Smith apple, that you shouldn't go for it. We're speaking of unhealthy, destructive cravings.

So, does giving into them actually make us happy ? I think this is an especially tough question, as it has so many answers, facets, nuances, etc. A book could be written in answer to that. For some people who aren't yet on this path, it's arguable that, at least on the surface, the answer could be "yes." Yes, it could be that, for someone out there (for some dark, private reason unknown to us), a slice of pizza would do wonders for his or her mental health -- perhaps the one saving grace available in order to prevent something altogether worse. But I still think it's arguable that the "yes" above was just as I stated -- surface happiness as opposed to true happiness.? So, complicating this question is the definition of happiness itself.

Raw foods is about authentic happiness. So, I think, for most people on this path toward optimum health, the "real" answer is in fact "no." It's "no" because a lot of what raw foods is about is getting over some of the powerful psychological and even surprisingly not-so-subtle physiological holds by which cooked foods enslaves us. The non-psysical holds I'm speaking of include entire psychologies as they relate to concepts such as comfort foods, addictions, binging, and other ways we use foods to "push down" emotional issues. The physiological holds include scientific concepts such as the phenomena of physical addiction and withdrawal.

A great example of one enormously powerful psychological hold is represented by the graphic atop this piece. At first, I was simply searching for a picture of some ice cream to use. But, notice a common theme I found when searching for ice cream pictures: Children. What does this say about how our habits are established and why we might regard certain things as comfort foods throughout our lives ? It's no wonder we might crave ice cream. But, are we really craving the taste ? Or are we just as likely craving what ice cream represents for so many of us (meaning, the special treat, the incentive, the feeling of returned youth, the reward for being good boys and girls) ?

These are all thoughts to ponder further. What do you think?

Original Comments

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On March 27, 2009, enzymeluv wrote:

Yes, it really is a psychological issue... i.e. our deep seated associations with what we regard as a treat. A dog gets a biscuit for being good... Though, humans have the innate potential to go beyond sensory gratification. We can play with the mechanics of the mind, and the objectified sensory perceptions that tease it. We get lost in the sensory world to the point that we think that is the ultimatum... In the end, what are we left with? I'll leave that up for you to decide.
P.S.... I might note, I know a few people who exercise amazing restraint with their ice cream consumption... They only eat one tablespoon at a time. Hence, they are able to stretch a pint of Coconut Bliss out over a course of a month." Not me ;-)

On March 27, 2009, MindXdreamz wrote:

Pizza. Oh Jim, you had to say that didn't you? (big smile) I just realized, it didn't conjure up any images or smells/desire for me just now when I read this or started to type about it. Woo-hoo! Progress! Pizza is what absolutely started me down the road of destruction with food more than 10 years ago. I put on 20 lbs (and the guys I worked with said I would too, some of them knew from experience but did I listen ) when I started working a night job as a pizza delivery driver. I was sadly mistaken thinking that they were all wrong and that all my going up and down stairs, getting in and out of the car, standing most of the night (while not on actual deliveries) in the store making pizzas, would actually burn those calories and keep me thin, oh man was I wrong! By the end of the second year I'd packed on another 20 so I was up, 40 lbs!!! That was the beginning of all my weight issues. I had been a very lean and young looking 36 year old single mom of two teens at that time. That changed pretty quick. I got tired. I quit that job and took another one that had me traveling on an expense account, within another year, I had gained another 20. Well, I hate to look back but that's where it started. Oh, pizza.

I love the new raw food body that I live in now. I'm down 20 lbs since beginning this journey and I'll always agree and tell others that yes, it's a journey. I gave up one or two things at a time, and progressed. Rock on you cool folks!

On March 27, 2009, Lannette wrote:

Wow! Another great topic! I also must sometimes order, purchase and distribute cooked and not necessarily healthy food as part of my job. Just today it was dark chocolate kisses. I don't eat it but I do enjoy the smell of chocolate and used to be tempted.

A good friend told me to simply enjoy the smell the same way I'd enjoy the smell of a rose or mountain air or whatever. So I do that now - totally separate the smell from the idea of it being edible. Funny thing is that I haven't smelled chocolate for a few months and today I was immediately taken by how strong the smell is. It actually smelled too strong, artificial and not all that pleasant - so maybe progress.

Lannette

On March 27, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Well, you know, that's another miracle of raw foods. With raw ice cream, you can have it for dinner if you want -- and that's healthy, nothing but frozen bananas and berries! We go through phases where we make that quite often. But, yeah, I was also not one of the "amazing restraint" folks. Plenty of times, I polished off an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's (or at least close to it).

On March 27, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Well, it sounds like you're doing great, MindX!! It's definitely a journey, a wild wonderful journey. And you're not alone!

And, btw, I'm sure pizza was to blame for a good bit of the 60 pounds I've lost since going raw. It's sooo nice to finally be back in the healthy BMI range for a change. While I'm sure I still would love the taste of pizza, I love being healthy infinitely more. Plus, there's always raw pizza! Did you ever make it? We've tried and created a nummber of raw pizza recipes. Some are delicious! I don't think that's a good "everyday" raw food, but it's a nice treat sometimes.

On March 27, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Yeah, I know that strong sugary smell most chocolate has. Does the raw stuff smell like that, too? We rarely eat chocolate here. Wendi's always been especially sensitive to the caffeine and/or caffeine-like chemicals in it (it affects her heart), and I also developed a sensitivity to caffeine a few years before going raw. So, as a family, we pretty much avoid anything with those kinds of natural stimulants. I know quite a lot of people adore raw cacao, though. I've tasted some amazing stuff made with it, but really haven't explored that part of the raw world as much as most other raw foodies.

On March 27, 2009, Lannette wrote:

Our local health food store sells raw chocolates and stores them in a refridgerator. I've never tasted one but I've never noticed any particularly strong smell associated with them when I get in the refridgerator to get other raw products out of it.

On March 27, 2009, earthmother wrote:

Your brain will begin to regard non-raw-food items as non-foods. It just takes a while to get to this place.

My brain isn't exactly up to speed on this yet.

BUT, when I have succumbed and given in to what my head tells me I absolutely have to have or I'll die, my body very quickly says "Um, no, this is not food, thank you" and I'm off to the nearest bathroom.

The, ahem, after-effects, are just so unpleasant that, really, why bother? I just don't get the same rush from eating cooked foods anymore. The emotional pull is waning.

On March 27, 2009, sheryl miller wrote:

my fav food is hot chips and potato crisps!
I used to have chocolate to that as well as latte(coffee) but I have got past that!
So I am currenbtly working on the chip roundabout!

But like I read somewhere that " If you keep indulging in your bad habits you will always have them!
Thanks Jim and Wendi for reminding me that I need to require more of myself!

Keep up the great work with the site which I am so glad to be a part of !
sheryl
canberra
australia

On March 28, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

The raw ones I've tasted (e.g., Gnosis chocolates and Love Street Living Foods) have been pretty amazing. However, I rarely buy them because I don't want to get into a (pricey) habit that might not be good for my heart. I recognize that this is something that applies only to me, and isn't necessarily risky for other people's hearts. As I mentioned above, I have somewhat of a mild sensitivity to caffeine, so I don't want to risk it. I've had numerous instances during which my heart began to race slightly after overdoing it with cacao. Many raw people I know, however, routinely enjoy cacao!

On March 28, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Well, maybe that's a good thing for you -- the fact that cooked foods don't sit well or make you feel good. I never experienced that phenomenon... I was just telling Wendi the other day that, even after being 100% raw for 6+ months straight, I could probably go eat a Big Mac and not feel any worse for it (not that I would). I'm always eating things that many people consider poor food combining choices -- like big portions of fruit after a meal or something -- without any ill effects whatsoever. So, if succumbing *does* make you feel physically bad, that's probably a good thing, as it physically reinforces that the raw path you're on is what your body wants.

On March 28, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Ahh, yes, chips and crisps. These were **favorites** of mine, too. These were two things that I continued to eat regularly even while living an otherwise high raw lifestyle. My 2nd year into this, I was about 90% raw, I'd say. The other 10% had a LOT of this stuff -- especially the various crisps (which we call chips). At first, I transitioned from fried chips to baked ones. I used to eat a lot of salsa back then, too. Sometimes I'd eat an entire jar of chips and salsa for lunch. Really loved that stuff. However, I'd also hit a plateau in my weight. Even being 75-90% raw, I could never get my weight below 185 pounds or so. For me, that's still in the unhealthy BMI range, and I wanted to be healthy. I think, maybe, if my cooked food intake had been made up of things like steamed veggies and quinoa, maybe I'd have continued to drop excess weight. But, there was some kind of psychological barrier there for me (my thinking that it was fine to eat junk at times I wasn't eating raw). So, I eventually knew I needed to eat only raw foods. And, sure enough, after doing so, I slowly moved to a healthy weight according to the BMI charts (which is, last time I checked, about 170 for me -- though that's still on the heavy end of the healthy range). I also feel much better now!

Coffee was a HUGE thing for me, too. But, I developed a sensitivity to caffeine a few years ago and HAD to stop. I really had no choice in the matter for that one -- either stop or risk something awful happenning with my heart. So, I actually feared caffeine after that episode. I'll have to tell that story sometime. (I think it's on my bio page on the main Pure Jeevan site.)

Thanks, Sheryl!

On March 28, 2009, sandra wrote:

Thanks for this post -- I'd been a vegetarian for 20 years before becoming raw and vegan and have been trying to remind myself that in the same way meat eventually became a non-food for me, cooked food would too. Your post confirmed that's true. Thanks so much!

On March 28, 2009, Lannette wrote:

Jim Dee said: "I rarely buy them because I don't want to get into a (pricey) habit that might not be good for my heart. I recognize that this is something that applies only to me, and isn't necessarily risky for other people's hearts. As I mentioned above, I have somewhat of a mild sensitivity to caffeine, so I don't want to risk it."

I avoid our health food store's raw chocolates and caffeine for the same reasons. Actually Jim, we all have to watch our heart health. None of us is immune to heart disease. - spoken like the true Cardiac rehab nurse I am. LOL!

On March 30, 2009, RaeVynn wrote:

Yesterday was our grandson's 3rd birthday. The party was held at a local pizza place.
When we arrived, every table had a couple of pizzas, and everyone was eating.
DH and I found a place to settle in, and pretty much ignore the eating part of the festivities...
On the way home, DH mentioned to me that "you know, it didn't even look or smell good. It always used to smell good. Now, it just looked gross."
And he's not even 100% raw! :)

On March 30, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Thanks, Sandra. Wow, a 20-year vegetarian! Well, they do say it's easier to go from vegetarian to vegan to raw -- instead of jumping from, say, junk food ("SAD") to raw. So, maybe it'll be easier for you with that background. It's definitely true, though, so hang in there! As I said, I think it happens one cooked food at a time, though. That could be for any number of psychological reasons (e.g., surmounting cravings) and/or physiological reasons (e.g., detoxing various things from your cooked food past). -Jim

On March 30, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Wow, a cardiac rehab nurse ! You must have learned SO much about the human heart. I hope you'll continue to share lessons you've learned here! Lannette, it *astounds* me how people joke about heart health where I work. People around here routinely return from medical exams and actually adopt rather mischievous grins when they reveal how high their bad cholesterol levels are. It's like they're saying, "I know meat and dairy are bad for me, but I'm going to keep on eating it anyway. Isn't that funny ??!!!" Ummm, no. It's sad. They laugh it off as though there could be no possible future reckoning for them. It's reminiscent, IMHO, of the famous Dr. Viktor Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning," in which he describes a psychological phenomenon he termed the "delusion of reprieve." For anyone unfamiliar w/ that, the term describes the phenomenon via which those faced with certain death (or near certain death) mentally construct some way out of it. They are deluded into believing that they'll have a reprieve from the inevitable. So, it's exactly the same to me -- these people see the heart attacks coming. They simply refuse to do anything about it, refuse to change their habits, deny what their blood work says to them. Why? Because they think "I'll be okay. Sure, this leads to heart disease in most people, but not in *me* because I'm a strong guy, I'm macho, I'm not as fat as some other person here, etc." Mostly, it's the meat, I think. It's got a *powerful* hold on our society... More on that later, I think... -Jim

On March 30, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Hi RaeVynn-

Wow, if your DH is at that stage, he's doing great! (Either that, or it was just remarkably bad pizza!!) I still love the smell. But, I also grew up on pizza & ate it my whole life. So, I know much of what I experience is psychological. Before I went 100% raw, whatever small % I kept cooked always included pizza. So, that was a big jump for me. Even though it smells so intoxicating, I know I don't *really* want it, so at least I'm at the stage where it's not torture to be around it. I think we've talked here on this blog before about the opiates in cheese. I think that explains a lot about pizza -- about the "withdrawal" one can feel without it. I think we retain a cellular memory of that "pizza feeling." And, if it's true that it takes 7 years (I think) to regenerate all of the cells in our bodies, then maybe it takes 7 years to really, truly get over pizza. I think it could be one of those things that are just that ingrained into our systems. At least, for me. -Jim

On March 30, 2009, Lannette wrote:

You might be sorry you got me going on this subject Jim. LOL
Lifestyle change is every bit as potent as any medicine made by man and without awful side effects. There ARE side effects to a lifestyle change prescription be sure - more energy, weight loss, feeling younger....

The problem is that we are such a quick fix society that we would rather take a pill (or 12 or 13 of them) than change the habits that are killing us. Diet is the toughest change for most people I see. They are literally addicted to SAD and it's frightening for them to ponder making changes.

Denial is powerful and that's partly because when people have an intervention (like a Cardiac stent) performed they consider it a fix. Part of my job is to make sure they know that it's called an intervention for a reason. It intervened between them and death and if they don't fly straight they might not beat out the grim reaper the next time around - and if they don't fly straight you can bet that their WILL be a next time. Even delivered straight up that news doesn't always break deep denial. <sigh>

I recently read about a lecture being given in our state concerning earlier recognition of risk factors and more aggressive treatment. You know what treatment they're talking about, right? Medicine! So I'm sitting there reading and my brain is screaming; "What about the food? Where are the fruits and vegetables? How about a little exercise and stress reduction ? Why do we have to jump right to medicine? Grrrrr!

I tell my patients to eat so well and be so active that the doctor simply has to take them off their medicines. Take that money right back from the drug companies. Then take half the money they save and put it back into their diet and exercise program.

OK, I'll stop now. hee hee