Food cravings are like mosquito bites. It feels oh, so good to scratch that itch! But would the scratching bring pleasure if there were no itch to begin with? Or would we see it for what it is—an irritating stimulus?
I’ve never been much of a sweets person. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll overdo it on my favorites on occasion, including ice cream and anything involving chocolate. But there’s something cloying about sweets that, luckily, tempers my urge to overeat them.
Bread is a different story.
In my heyday, you might have caught me sitting at the table with a large loaf of fresh crusty ciabatta…half eaten! I also had a serious penchant for cheese and would eat large amounts of it, aggravating a gall bladder condition I’ve had since childhood. What is it about cravings that makes us throw caution and self-care to the wind?
And yet, to slam the door in the face of our desire, to resist our cravings with the brute force of willpower feels overly harsh, even cruel at times.
Whatever role our poor choices have played in it, our cravings often represent a legitimate physiological need. For example, cravings for chocolate are often due to magnesium deficiency, as chocolate is a rich source of this mineral.
And many cravings are caused by insulin resistance, which occurs when the body can’t utilize insulin properly. The cells of insulin-resistant people (about 1 in 3 Americans) are perpetually starving for glucose, because they’re unable to metabolize the glucose in their blood. It’s no wonder they crave sugar! The irony is that insulin resistance is caused by eating too much sugar and refined starches in the first place. And satisfying these cravings with more refined carbs only digs one’s grave deeper.
Untreated, the vicious circle of insulin resistance/craving fulfillment leads to Type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC’s 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 79 million Americans are pre-diabetic and—if they don’t change their ways—will go on to join the 26 million Type-2 diabetics in this country. Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to loss of vision, loss of limbs, and even death.
So what’s the answer to this dilemma? How can we avoid unhealthy eating without inflicting painful deprivation and stress on ourselves?
It’s craving-control—with honey-cinnamon tea!
I first came across this idea on one of the home-remedy sites, probably Earth Clinic. And it totally works. You use half a teaspoon of cinnamon with a Tablespoon of raw honey in six to eight ounces—a small mugful—of very warm water. Drink this twice a day, before breakfast and at night, and most cravings will disappear. Easy!
There is, however, a trick to preparing the tea that I have not seen mentioned anywhere. When you make the tea, the cinnamon tends to stay dry and float on the top. It’s very annoying, because when you go to drink it you will get a cinnamon mustache and a mouthful of grit.
Also, you want to get the tea to a pleasant drinking temperature that is still low enough to preserve the enzymes in the raw honey, which are a key component to this remedy. That sweet spot is about 120°F ( = 49°C). There isn’t a lot of data specifically on honey, but studies of the effect of temperature on enzymes in other foods suggest 120°F to be a fairly safe maximum temp for short exposure. Some would say lower, but the the tea cools quickly, and I know people who make it hotter than that and still get results.
So here is the special method for preparing honey-cinnamon tea for craving control:
Step 1: Mix half a teaspoon of cinnamon and one Tablespoon of raw honey into a paste in the bottom of a small mug. This forces the cinnamon to take up moisture so that it won’t float.
Step 2: Fill the mug about halfway (3 ounces) with drinking water. Use less if the water is ice cold from the tap or your fridge.
Step 3: Top off the mug with boiling water. Since you added the cool water first, the temperature of the honey will never exceed about 120°F. You may need to play with the ratio of cool/hot water to get the right temp for your particular set of circumstances. A tea thermometer helps, but as a point of reference for those who don’t have one: 130°F is the maximum comfortable drinking temperature for most people. People who like their coffee hot (but dislike burnt tongues) drink it at 130°F. 120°F, by contrast, is very warm just bordering on hot.
Step 4: Stir and enjoy!
Did cinnamon-honey tea cure your cravings? Leave a comment!