This time of year, we are likely to be saddled with holiday parties and other events that encourage overindulgence. After a few too many days of cheating on their diets, even the most well-intentioned of people may begin to feel discouraged. When they hit this low, the New Year rolls around, and they’re likely to start making resolutions about their health. We all know how long — or rather, short — those “new year, new you” sorts of promises stay intact.
A better solution than joining a gym or eating less is to think about where you often go wrong with your diet. For example, what are your cravings? What are the triggers that often lead you to those cravings?
Best-selling author and nutrition expert Julia Ross addresses this with her book The Craving Cure: Identify Your Craving Type To Activate Your Natural Appetite Control, which is set for a December 12th release via Flatiron Books. Ross’ revolutionary approach begins with a five-part questionnaire that identifies the reader’s unique craving profile and specifies the amino acid supplements needed to curb their specific type of craving
To learn more about Julia Ross and The Craving Cure, I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Ross for The Daily Meal. More info on the author and her approach can be found online at www.juliarosscures.com.
How would you describe your book to someone who hasn't yet picked it up?
Julia Ross: The Craving Cure is about how today’s commercial foods are generating mass cravings and epidemics of obesity and diabetes. More importantly, it’s about how we can turn off these unnatural urges overnight using a few specific brain-targeted nutrients.
How much of the book did you know before starting to write it, versus how much did you have to research in-depth?
I researched about a third of the book in depth. The rest came straight from my clinic’s experience with over four thousand food cravers.
When did you first realize that you were onto something with The Craving Cure?
It was in 1986, after my first clinic started a pilot project. We gave supplements of a nutrient that I had been researching an amino acid called tyrosine to a few crack addicts. Our first volunteer came in after a week and reported having much less craving for crack and that he had actually not used any all week! He had not been crack-free for that long in over a year.
That gave me hope that this or other amino acids might help other kinds of addicts as well. Two years later, I started a new program for overeaters. These food-addicted clients were the most responsive of all to amino acids, losing all their cravings in days! We’ve seen this happen since in thousands of cases.
What is a big mistake or misconception that you think people often make about diet?
One is that starving will help with weight loss. Calorie cutting increases cravings and weight gain over time, almost every time.
Another is that saturated fat and meat are unhealthy. The research is clear — and I reference it carefully in The Craving Cure. Our health and weight used to be ideal on a diet heavy in those two foods. It was when we stopped eating them in the 1970s and added the new high-fructose sugars that our epidemics of weight gain and health loss began.
At what point in your life did you first become diet-conscious?
In the 60’s, when “health food” became popular. Then, in the ‘70s, though my weight was fine, I was getting colds and flus a lot and my doctor told me to add two cooked vegetables and a salad a day to the eggs, meat, milk products, grains, etc. that I was already eating and to quit the candy and soda.
I did and I stopped getting sick. Everyone said how much better I looked, and I felt better too. I never forgot that lesson. Most people now can’t make these kinds of dietary decisions. No matter how “conscious” they are, their junk food cravings have become too biochemically overpowering to resist.
When it comes to people who stay on-track with a diet on most days, where do you stand on cheat days?
We rarely see anyone who can limit their “cheats.” If they can, and their health and weight remain optimal, I have no concerns. They do not really need a Craving Cure. Unfortunately, they are rare now. Commercially-prepared junk food is all most people are eating these days and it’s truly irresistible because of the new sugars it contains and the clever brain-targeted science behind it.
What does breakfast usually look like for you?
A lot like dinner. For example, three- or four-egg scramble with two plus cups of sautéed veggies, often topped by guacamole or sliced avocado. Today I had leftovers from last night; I cut up some roasted turkey thigh and vegetables with winter squash I’d cooked with garlic and ginger. I tossed them all together with olive oil, lemon, and salt and ate them as a cold salad. Fast and tasty and satisfying!
When not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
Hiking, biking, gardening, and singing in a gospel choir.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in San Francisco?
Maykadeh in North Beach serves unusually healthy, and tasty, traditional Persian food.
Finally, Julia, any last words for the kids?
Tell your parents to get the sugar out of the house and give you food like Peter Pan, Moana, and Mulan ate. It won’t be hard if you follow the adult and kid directions in The Craving Cure. Have some meat — especially meat that’s raised on grass. Let yourself eat more like your dog and cat.