We harbor the notion that we’re sentient beings … but recent studies provide a new perspective, challenging just how much control we truly have when it comes to our cravings. … there is in fact a very direct and causal connection between our intestinal microbial ecology and the way we think. That, in fact, these microbes message our brains, effectively telling us what to eat.
— Rich Roll, author of Finding Ultra
I suppose a defeatist could interpret Roll’s comments as yet another example of why it’s “impossible” to lose weight. He disagrees, suggesting that the process can work in reverse as well – if you feed the bacteria in your gut healthier foods, then the microbes that thrive on that diet will proliferate at the expense of the junkfood-craving critters.
It’s a creepy thing to think about, I’ll admit. (According to another book I’ve been browsing lately, The Perfect Health Diet by a couple of scientists, Paul Jaminet and Shou-Ching Jaminet, bacteria outnumber human cells 10 to 1 — adding up to “a few pounds” of body weight.)
I don’t like the idea of housing all those microbes, especially knowing they contribute to the number I see on the scale. On the other hand, I LOVE the idea of being a food god, choosing who thrives and who dies in my bacterial ecosystem.
Microbes may very well “instant message” my brain about what THEY think I should eat, but I’m the one who physically puts food into my mouth. If I think in terms of a “craving” – a word that comes with baggage from my fat years – I’m far too likely to give in.
But if I think of it as a bossy command from an overbearing microbe, it becomes MUCH easier to deny the request.
Based on my own experience, I do think you lose the taste for certain foods if you quit eating them for several weeks. I haven’t eaten French fries in 3-4 years and don’t miss them at all. A book that inspired me during my weight loss — Cutting Myself in Half: 150 Pounds Lost One Byte at a Time, by then-teen author Taylor LaBaron — referred to this concept as “killing dinosaurs” by “exterminating cravings.”
Turns out LaBaron may have had the right idea, but the wrong species.