How Food Cravings Work


Chuck Bryant

That sounded like a nursery rhyme.

Josh Clark

It did. It was. [Inaudible]. How's it going, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant

Oh, you know, dude. It's Friday. We're all ready to trip the light fantastic this weekend.

Josh Clark

Do you know that means dance? Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. I don't dance.

Josh Clark

I don't either.

Chuck Bryant

Paint the town brown.

Josh Clark

Red.

Chuck Bryant

Well, I'm a Ween fan, so you paint the town brown.

Josh Clark

What is the name of the god that Ween worshiped that tells him to get wasted?

Chuck Bryant

The Boognish.

Josh Clark

Is that what it is?

Chuck Bryant

Well, that's their little symbol, the little guy with the spiky hair.

Josh Clark

Right. But there's like a god that they listen to that commands them to just get wasted.

Chuck Bryant

I don't know that.

Josh Clark

Yeah. How about this? Listeners, what is the name of the god that Ween answered to?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. A god Ween Satan was the name of their first album.

Josh Clark

Yeah, I know. So Chuck?

Chuck Bryant

Yes?

Josh Clark

I could go for a sloppy Joe right now.

Chuck Bryant

Mmm, man, I haven't had a sloppy Joe since I was a kid.

Josh Clark

You haven't?

Chuck Bryant

Huh-uh.

Josh Clark

You poor bastard.

Chuck Bryant

Like the - the manwich kind from the old school.

Josh Clark

Any kind. A sloppy Joe, it's like barbeque sauce and ketchup with some ground beef on a bun.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Does it get betterthan that?

Chuck Bryant

Not since my mom was like cooking for me as a kid have I had a sloppy Joe. I've never made one myself.

Josh Clark

Let me give you a little - little secret here.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

A sloppy Joe -

Chuck Bryant

Uh-huh.

Josh Clark

- a fish taco.

Chuck Bryant

A sloppy Josh.

Josh Clark

Not yet. We're not out of work yet. Insert fish taco into sloppy Joe and thank me in the morning.

Chuck Bryant

Wait. Put a fish taco in the sandwich itself?

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

With the beef and everything?

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah.

Chuck Bryant

That's the weirdest thing I've ever heard.

Josh Clark

Well, just try it and let me know what you think.

Chuck Bryant

Okay. Sure. I love fish tacos.

Josh Clark

I guarantee that after you have a fish taco sloppy Joe, you will end up with a food craving for it at some point.

Chuck Bryant

Wow.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

That's a great setup.

Josh Clark

Thanks buddy.

Chuck Bryant

Food cravings.

Josh Clark

Food cravings.

Chuck Bryant

That's what we're talking about. Right?

Josh Clark

You think?

Chuck Bryant

That's what I prepared for.

Josh Clark

Yeah, same here. So Chuck, you've had a food craving, right? If so, you're part of the 70 percent of males in North America who have had one in the last year.

Chuck Bryant

I found that to be staggering. I thought everyone has had a food craving, like once a week.

Josh Clark

Yeah. The stat on women was much more - I guess in my wheel house, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. 100 percent!

Josh Clark

100 percent.

Chuck Bryant

But what 30 percent of men don't have a craving in a year, like who are these dudes?

Josh Clark

Just jerks who are like, "I'm not answering that question. I'm going jogging." It's 100 percent. You and I both know that. Everybody knows that.Chuck Bryant: Right.Josh Clark: Everybody's had a food craving in the last year.Chuck Bryant: Well, that's what I couldn't determine if it was an actual classifiable food craving or just like, "Oh, I'm hungry for a burger."

Josh Clark

Or maybe they thought that Slim Jims don't count.

Chuck Bryant

True.

Josh Clark

That accounts for that 30 percent right there.

Chuck Bryant

That's a good point.

Josh Clark

Slim Jims aren't' food. They're Slim Jims.

Chuck Bryant

That's a good one. Yeah, Josh, 70 percent say yes and women all say yes. And women in North America and in Europe, particularly, like the sweet stuff.

Josh Clark

Yeah. I think chocolate's the most highly reported food craving.

Chuck Bryant

Sure. Yeah. It's no secret.

Josh Clark

Women in North America, we need to specify.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Because it appears that food cravings are also culturally specific.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

So women in North America like the chocolate, but say, women in Egypt -

Chuck Bryant

Like, let's say, a meat stuffed eggplant.

Josh Clark

That's pretty specific.

Chuck Bryant

Kristin Conger wrote this, and it's a great article, but I love that she actually said that. They will crave a meat stuffed eggplant.

Josh Clark

Which actually sounds kinda good?

Chuck Bryant

Well, sure.

Josh Clark

And I'm not even hip on eggplant, but I would eat that.

Chuck Bryant

You can stuff anything with meat, you know?

Josh Clark

You know why? Exactly!

Chuck Bryant

And you're down with it.

Josh Clark

You wrap it and bake it and stuff it with meat or put a fish taco on it, and I'll eat it.

Chuck Bryant

Even a milk stake?

Josh Clark

Sure. Although, I just recently found out what that is.

Chuck Bryant

Was I right?

Josh Clark

I believe so, yeah.

Chuck Bryant

[Inaudible].

Josh Clark

We haven't gotten any corrections, so I assume so.

Chuck Bryant

That's because no one from the 19th century is still around that can correct us.

Josh Clark

So Chuck, actually, food cravings, we talk about how they're different in North American and in Egypt, for example.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

They - they appear to be universal, however.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

While the food craving may differ, or the food that is craved may differ, the food craving is - is pretty much a universal human trait.

Chuck Bryant

Sure. Because we all have a brain!

Josh Clark

Well, let's talk about there's two different kinds. There's a stomach craving, which accounts for hunger.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

And then, there's a food craving, which we'll get to in a minute, and it's like all mental.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

You have to have a brain. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yes. Yes.

Josh Clark

Actually, you have to have a brain for both, but let's talk about like regular old hunger, like what is that, dude?

Chuck Bryant

That is the stomach telling the brain by way of the - is it vagus or vagus?

Josh Clark

I think vagus.

Chuck Bryant

Vagus nerve, basically, saying, "I'm hungry. I need food to live, so feed me."

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

You know?

Josh Clark

It's pretty much as simple as that.

Chuck Bryant

It is.

Josh Clark

And this hormone, ghrelin, which has made an appearance incorrectly in a previous podcast, if you remember -

Chuck Bryant

Did we get something wrong?

Josh Clark

I said ghrelin tells your stomach - or tells your brain that you're not hungry any longer. It actually does the opposite. Yeah. I know. I'm an idiot. It's a - it's a hormone that is actually emitted by fat tissue.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And it travels up the vagus nerve to the hypothalamus and says, "Dude, I'm - I'm hungry."

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And it trigger - it's triggered when your blood sugar and insulin levels start to decline, which is just awesome. I love the human body. I think it's like about as fascinating as it gets.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. I like the brain, in particular, and I think articles like this, everyone knows how much we love the brain and studying the brain, but -

Josh Clark

Yeah. Look for a - an audio book on the brain from Chuck and I in 2010.

Chuck Bryant

Little spoiler, teaser. But it always amazes me that the - the brain is so complex, and then the rest of the body is almost like just a big dumb functioning group of organs, compared to the brain.

Josh Clark

Compared to the - well, yeah. But I mean, that's like comparing like a -

Chuck Bryant

But they all work together.

Josh Clark

- an '88 Dodge Colt to like, you know -

Chuck Bryant

A Bugatti?

Josh Clark

A Bugatti. Thank you.

Chuck Bryant

I don't know where that came from.

Josh Clark

So, okay, so the ghrelin travels up the vagus nerve, hits the hypothalamus, which the hypothalamus also provides some other function management, like sex drive, thirst -

Chuck Bryant

Sleep.

Josh Clark

Sleep, yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Things - we like the hypothalamus.

Josh Clark

It's pretty - it's pretty smart. Yeah. Exactly. It's like it's the party part of the brain. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

So the hypothalamus says, "All right. We're hungry and we're going to release neuropeptide Y?"

Chuck Bryant

Right. It makes us hungry.

Josh Clark

Well, right. It stimulates our appetites. Right? So what - we eat.

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

We're eating the sloppy Joe/fish taco combo.

Chuck Bryant

Yes. And as we eat, something else starts to happen because it just can't keep going like this or you would just keep eating and eating and eating. So your body has to do the reverse almost and say, "You can stop eating now."

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

And it does this by in a couple of ways. The first things that happens is fat tissues expel leptin.

Josh Clark

And son of a gun, I am never going to get ghrelin. Ghrelin is released from - in the stomach. Leptin is released in the fat tissues.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, did you say ghrelin -

Josh Clark

I did. I did. I'm just a big dumb animal.

Chuck Bryant

Well, so hold your emails, folks. We will get this all right by the end of this thing.

Josh Clark

Maybe.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

I hate ghrelin.

Chuck Bryant

So leptin gets going and tells our brain, basically, that, hey, you're satisfied. You're not hungry anymore. You're satiated. You do not need to keep eating.

Josh Clark

Right. But this doesn't take place like immediately.

Chuck Bryant

No.

Josh Clark

And actually, my half Okinawa girlfriend taught me that the Japanese have a little rule of thumb, called harahatchebo.

Chuck Bryant

Nice.

Josh Clark

Thanks buddy. Thanks.

Chuck Bryant

What does that mean?

Josh Clark

It means, basically, stop when you feel about 80 percent full.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

And it works like a charm, actually.

Chuck Bryant

Well, you don't see a lot of obese Asian people.

Josh Clark

Not too - and the live forever, too.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. We should follow that - that model. So leptin actually does this by turning down the production of the neuropeptide in cranking up the production of pro opiomelanocortin!

Josh Clark

I was hoping you'd take that one. That was an excellent pronunciation, buddy. Nice.

Chuck Bryant

I had to literally sound it out and spell it out very [inaudible] -

Josh Clark

Salavically?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. But it worked.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

And that is an appetite suppressant in the blood stream, so that basically says the - the hypothalamus monitors the insulin blood sugar, and then everyone's happy. We're eating. We're satisfied. We're full.

Josh Clark

Right. So there - there you go. We're alive. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

So that accounts for normal hunger. Right? That actually does begin in the stomach, crazy enough.

Chuck Bryant

Right. That's how you have hunger and that's how your brain tells you that you are not hungry.Josh Clark: But that doesn't account for food cravings. Food cravings are pretty much all mental, or at the very least, they're all brain centric. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. And it's not, hey, I need to eat to stay alive. It's hey, I really, really want that sloppy Joe.

Josh Clark

Right. With the fish taco!

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. Well, I don't know about that, but -

Josh Clark

That's mind hunger that you're talking about.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. Which accounts for the craving?

Josh Clark

Right. And one of the reasons that it's - it's I guess worth writing an article about and researching and podcasting is that it's kind of curious. It's a little bit of a mystery because they're not really essential for survival. There was - there - I actually thought this for a very long time, and probably will continue to do so, because I don't give up my views very easily, but I - I tended to think that food cravings were the body's way of saying you need more iron, so you really, really want a steak right now.

Chuck Bryant

Debunked.

Josh Clark

Whatever.

Chuck Bryant

Debunked.

Josh Clark

I don't care. It's a good way to live life, and I'm going to live it like that.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. But scientists have largely debunked that, basically, saying it's really not your - it's not you saying that, oh, I need a particular nutrient to keep me healthy.

Josh Clark

And one of the reasons why it was debunked was because most food cravings are for really rich, fatty foods, high in calories.

Chuck Bryant

And do you know why we crave those, Josh?

Josh Clark

Why?

Chuck Bryant

Because they are loaded with chemicals, called opioates.

Josh Clark

That is true.

Chuck Bryant

And -

Josh Clark

This is a - this is a depressing moment for me, by the way. Like I lived like this for years.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. Me, too! Opioates, what they do, they bind to your receptors in the brain and they bring you the like feel good feelings.

Josh Clark

They do. Actually, the - the same process is followed for drugs.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

When you do drugs, it actually follows the same, I guess, mental process your brain [inaudible] -

Chuck Bryant

[Inaudible] pathway?

Josh Clark

Excellent, Chuck. Thank you. I was flailing there. That drugs do, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. I thought that was interesting.

Josh Clark

So you've got - you've got - let's - let's just use chocolate. It's just so easy.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. It's a good go-to.

Josh Clark

So you - you - you eat a little chocolate. Let's say it's the first time. And the opioids that are released actually form part of your memory of eating chocolate.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

You have a sensory memory that is very, very pleasant associated with eating chocolate.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

It gets filed away by what part, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant

Is that the hippocampus [inaudible] filing?

Josh Clark

It is. Yes, it is. It - it sorts sensory data and puts it into long-term or short-term memory.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And when we see chocolate again, we say, "Oh, yeah, chocolate. That makes me feel pretty good."

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

Right?

Chuck Bryant

Uh-huh.

Josh Clark

So there's - there's one aspect of the craving. It's psychological based on long-term memory.

Chuck Bryant

Right. And it also stimulates the caudate nucleus.

Josh Clark

Sure.

Chuck Bryant

And basically, that helps control the dopamine reward system, and dopamine is another feel good chemical in your body.Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant

What's your favorite, like drop dead favorite, what would be your last meal? Your own death row, let's say, not a stretch.Josh Clark: That's terrible.Chuck Bryant: What - what would be - you're really thinking about this. I like that.Josh Clark: I really like the porter house steak at Kevin Rathpans.Chuck Bryant: Oh, very specific.Josh Clark: Have you had it?Chuck Bryant: No.Josh Clark: Dude.Chuck Bryant: Awesome?Josh Clark: Yeah. Or there is - there's this fried chicken at Water Shed. Have you had that?Chuck Bryant: I have never had their famous friend chicken.Josh Clark: You should go. You should go.Chuck Bryant: Tuesday nights?Josh Clark: Tuesday nights, and after 6:00 if you make reservations, they can't guarantee the chicken.Chuck Bryant: I know. I've been - they can't guarantee it's good or?

Josh Clark

No. They can't guarantee it'll be there.

Chuck Bryant

We can give you some chicken but it might be rotten.

Josh Clark

It's gonna be pretty crappy.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. I've heard about that for years, you know.

Josh Clark

It's definitely worth it. One of those two, probably, would be my last meal.

Chuck Bryant

I think my - I don't - I can't get super specific, but I think my favorite last meal would be like a big fried seafood platter.

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. With like fried shrimp and fish and clams and scallops and hushpuppies and French fries and cole slaw.

Josh Clark

Nice.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, man, I'm dying.

Josh Clark

Dude, you're making me hungry.

Chuck Bryant

Tartar sauce.

Josh Clark

We should go to Long John Silver's after this, Long John Silver's, where their fish and the chicken are equally good.

Chuck Bryant

And taste much the same.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

I love Long John's, actually.

Josh Clark

So do I. So Chuck, we've talked about the reward system, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

And actually, there was a study in 2004 where people were jammed into the wonder machine and asked to think about food.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. This is actually the FMRI, which is the wonder wonder machine.

Josh Clark

No. That's the wonder machine. MRI's just an MRI. It's - it's worthless unless it's got that little F attached to it.

Chuck Bryant

Okay. Gotcha!

Josh Clark

So they jam some people in the wonder machine and say, "Think about food," and then, the people started thinking about food, and like you said, the caudate nucleus, the insulin, the hippocampus all lit up.

Chuck Bryant

They all fire up.

Josh Clark

So it - it's very clear that like our reward system is triggered when we think about food. So that - that explains part of food cravings. And we also said that it's linked to the same neuro pathways as drugs and drug addiction.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Which also accounts for food addiction?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. It's just a milder version.

Josh Clark

We also said that memories, like the - the sense memory, remember the chocolate - ooh, chocolate makes me feel good when I eat it, so I want chocolate. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, reinforces all that.

Josh Clark

That's part of it, too, but our - where do the food cravings come from, I guess, is my point, if I am to make one.

Chuck Bryant

Josh, you know what? You know where this starts, dude?

Josh Clark

I don't know.

Chuck Bryant

You do. You're just being quiet.

Josh Clark

I do.

Chuck Bryant

It starts in the womb.

Josh Clark

You pronounce the B?

Chuck Bryant

No. I just did that as a joke.

Josh Clark

Oh, okay.

Chuck Bryant

It - it actually does happen in the womb, and they found in studies - in studies that in utero, a fetus can distinguish between different flavors that are passed to them through the amniotic fluid. Isn't that remarkable?

Josh Clark

It is remarkable, Chuck, and although I'm not entirely certain how they figured that out, there have been studies on post birth children and their taste for food. And a lot of it, apparently, it comes from their time in the womb and whatever their mother is eating while they're nursing.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, yeah.

Josh Clark

They found that mothers who ate lots of garlic or who ate a steady diet of garlic, their babies nursed longer.

Chuck Bryant

I know. Isn't that crazy?

Josh Clark

Possibly to try to figure out what the heck this taste is.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. I love that.

Josh Clark

Because garlic's tough to miss.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

It comes out everywhere.

Chuck Bryant

And I imagine garlic-y breast milk would throw the baby for a loop to the point where they're like, "What is this?"

Josh Clark

Oh, I can tell you it throws you for a loop.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, it does?

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

Okay. God, garlic's just the best in anything, though.

Josh Clark

It is.

Chuck Bryant

And really good for you, too.

Josh Clark

Have you ever had a whole roasted garlic?

Chuck Bryant

Oh, yeah.

Josh Clark

Just roasted, just squeezed out onto like a piece of bread, the whole thing, like the whole bulb?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, dude. What - I do it all the time. I cut off half of it and drizzle it with some olive oil and bake it.

Josh Clark

Yeah. In - in some foil?

Chuck Bryant

No. I just throw it - throw it on a oven - like a cookie sheet.

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah. Wrap it in foil and twist the top.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

And just - you don't even need the cookie sheet. You just throw it in there on the rack and it - it just - it goes - it's awesome.

Chuck Bryant

And great for - have you ever taken garlic pills like a supplement?

Josh Clark

I don't like them. I'd rather eat the garlic bulb.

Chuck Bryant

Well, I would, too, but garlic pills are weird because you'll take like a garlic pill in the morning because it's good for you and at like 9:30 in the morning you feel like you're burping up Italian food. It's really odd.

Josh Clark

Right. And by afternoon it's coming out of your breasts if you're nursing.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. Or your skin pores?

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

Sweat.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

You know me with my sweat.

Josh Clark

Dude.

Chuck Bryant

You don't wanna be around me on a hot day after I've had some lasagna, brother.

Josh Clark

Right, yeah.

Chuck Bryant

It's not good.

Josh Clark

Oh, I know it's not.

Chuck Bryant

I was getting hungry and now I'm revolted all of a sudden.

Josh Clark

Yeah. This just took a real nosedive, didn't it?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

So Chuck, you were saying we're first exposed to taste in the womb, and also, apparently, we carry these on.

Chuck Bryant

Right. Those memories stick around, those sensory memories.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

And that's the beginnings of establishing our food relationship, basically.

Josh Clark

And it can also be established by the mother. Apparently, studies have shown that, I should say, at least one study has shown that women who have more adventurous diets have children who have more adventurous diets. I think you could say, well, maybe that has to do with the way they're raised.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, probably.

Josh Clark

But it could go either way.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. You know another thing I thought was cool?

Josh Clark

What?

Chuck Bryant

How you said it was kinda like the same thing as a drug addict seeking drugs.

Josh Clark

Uh-huh.

Chuck Bryant

Just like that, you need more and more to satisfy you, so just like a crack head might need more crack to get high as they progress in their drug career or hobby, you - if you eat chocolate, just that little bit of chocolate isn't gonna do it if you keep eating.

Josh Clark

Sure.

Chuck Bryant

You're gonna need more and more to satisfy you.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Pretty cool.

Josh Clark

It is unless you have a chocolate addiction.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. That's true.

Josh Clark

Or a crack addiction.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

So Chuck, what do you do when you do have a chocolate addiction?

Chuck Bryant

You eat chocolate.

Josh Clark

You do, not every time.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, me personally?

Josh Clark

No, no.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, okay. I thought you meant me.

Josh Clark

No. I'm saying you, like anybody.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

You're not a chocolate addict. I know you're hard on yourself, but you're not.

Chuck Bryant

No. I like chocolate but it gives the heartburn, too, so it's kind of a fine line I have to walk. Geri thought that was funny, for some reason.

Josh Clark

She did, actually. She just laughed. So they - they - they've - they've - this is something that people have been paying attention to, luckily, although they still haven't quite cracked the code. It turns out the body is a little wonky when it comes to food cravings. When you have a lot of fat tissue -

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. This is weird to me.

Josh Clark

- you emit a lot of leptin.

Chuck Bryant

Uh-huh.

Josh Clark

Which is the thing that lowers appetite? Right?

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Suppresses appetite.

Chuck Bryant

And it's in fatty tissue, so the more fat you have the more leptin you have.

Josh Clark

So that - that should mean, strangely, that the - the fatter you are, the less you should eat.

Chuck Bryant

Not true.

Josh Clark

No.

Chuck Bryant

It's the opposite.

Josh Clark

Yeah. The - for some reason as the body mass index increases, meaning you get heavier and more fat on you, you actually eat more.

Chuck Bryant

Right. That's crazy.

Josh Clark

Which doesn't seem odd, really, if you think about that, but you know, you're putting out more leptin.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. And it - it - nothing we found said why this happens. It's just - is it just one of those things in the human body that we can't account for? You know, and another cool thing, Josh?

Josh Clark

What?

Chuck Bryant

That if you try to diet or quit eating a certain thing, like let's say you're a lady and you have like a big chocolate thing, the more you - if you say, "I wanna cut down on eating chocolate," you're gonna crave it more.

Josh Clark

Well, yeah, it's -

Chuck Bryant

They did a - they did a study in 2007 and found 50 percent more.

Josh Clark

It's the - 50 percent more?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. If you're trying not to, you're gonna crave it 50 percent more.

Josh Clark

Right. It's the [inaudible] the perverse. Remember we've talked about that.

Chuck Bryant

Uh-huh.

Josh Clark

The more you try to push a thought from your head, the more you're gonna think about it because not only are you thinking about keeping it out of your head. It inevitably floods in, and then you push it out, so really, what you're doing is engaging in the cycle of constantly obsessing about this one thing.

Chuck Bryant

I know. Let me - let me try something here.

Josh Clark

Okay.

Chuck Bryant

Josh, whatever you do, for the next ten seconds, do not think about a sloppy Joe with a fish taco on it. All right. What's the first thing that just popped into your head?

Josh Clark

You wanna know?

Chuck Bryant

Well, no. What is it?

Josh Clark

Donald Duck.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Is that your go-to?

Josh Clark

No.

Chuck Bryant

That's an odd go-to.

Josh Clark

No. It's not my go-to. I read an article on it and somebody said, "Whatever you do for the next sentence, don't think about Donald Duck."

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

That was kinda my introduction to the [inaudible] perverse.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

So that's why I thought of Donald Duck. I'll tell you what I didn't think of, and I think ten seconds has passed.

Chuck Bryant

Uh-huh.

Josh Clark

I didn't think of a sloppy Joe with a fish taco.

Chuck Bryant

No. I don't believe you. I think you thought of Donald Duck eating a sloppy Joe with a fish taco.

Josh Clark

I did, without pants.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

That guy never wears pants.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. Doesn't he wear a diaper or something? Or was that -

Josh Clark

Did you know - no. He just - that was just his duck bottom.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, okay.

Josh Clark

He - he was banned in Finland, I think, because he didn't wear pants.

Chuck Bryant

Those Fins are crazy.

Josh Clark

Or they - they had to put pants on him, one of the two.

Chuck Bryant

That's good stuff, Josh. I think people are learning a lot here.

Josh Clark

I think we have gotten really far off topic.

Chuck Bryant

I think so. So should we reel it in here?

Josh Clark

Yeah. If you have a food addiction and you have food cravings, people who didn't deny themselves every food craving managed to lose the most weight.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. They said the trick is to give in to it occasionally to reward yourself, but to just keep that all in check. Right?

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

Isn't that how it works?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

And you're big on the calorie restriction, so what do you think about that?

Josh Clark

I've found that just not eating - I don't eat breakfast or lunch -

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

- and just eat dinner -

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

- and I've found that after probably a week or two of really just doing it hard core, you just don't even think about it any longer.

Chuck Bryant

Huh.

Josh Clark

If I stop and think about it, like right now, I'm hungry because I stopped and thought about it, but I -

Chuck Bryant

What are you hungry for?

Josh Clark

- I don't think about it. I think you know what I'm hungry for, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, sloppy Joe with a fish taco.

Josh Clark

That's right.

Chuck Bryant

Should we talk about weird food cravings?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Like ladies when they're pregnant?

Josh Clark

Yes. Which I was interested to read about this, actually, because I've always wondered what gets somebody who, say, never liked cheese before to suddenly like cheese once she becomes pregnant or something.

Chuck Bryant

Right. Well, it has a lot to do with the hormones that are going bizurko when you get pregnant. Right? Especially estrogen.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

And it also has to do with their sense of taste and smell really become honed when they're pregnant.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

So something like maybe really pungent, like coffee and cigarettes is even more of a turnoff than usual, which is probably a good thing if you're pregnant?

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

Don't you think?

Josh Clark

Yeah. I think coffee and cigarettes is probably bad for a pregnant person.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

A pregnant woman.

Chuck Bryant

And the cravings focus on like really sweet and really salty, really spicy. It's kind of the extreme, it seems like.

Josh Clark

Right. So Chuck, yes, pregnant women have strange food cravings, pickles and ice cream, whatever.

Chuck Bryant

That's the old joke, yeah.

Josh Clark

It - it is. And science has - hasn't really figured out exactly why.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

But yes, it probably does have to do with the hormonal surge.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

There is - I used to work in a gas station up in Athens. And people -

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

I did, too.

Josh Clark

Which one?

Chuck Bryant

Well, I worked at the Golden Pantry, so I - I didn't like pump gas, but I worked in the little food mart.

Josh Clark

I didn't pump - same here.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

I worked at the Magnolia Station on Atlanta Highway.

Chuck Bryant

That's pretty funny.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

We're both gas guys.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Huh, who knew? And we used to sell white dirt, and people came in and bought it by the bag full.

Chuck Bryant

I don't know what that means.

Josh Clark

It's white clay.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, okay.

Josh Clark

And they would eat it.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

Is that what you sold it for, to consume?

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

I don't even know what you're talking about.

Josh Clark

It's really weird. People will chew it and eat it and ingest it and actually - it was a real big hit among pregnant women, too.

Chuck Bryant

Well, I do know what you're talking about.

Josh Clark

What?

Chuck Bryant

It's called pica.

Josh Clark

Yes. And specifically, in this case, eating dirt of any kind is called geophagia.

Chuck Bryant

Right. And there's also one called pagophagia, which is eating ice.

Josh Clark

Yeah, which I've heard of before.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Apparently, people who have iron deficiency is anemia eat ice a lot, but you're not getting any iron for the ice - from the ice. But they think that possibly there's apparently discomfort in the tongue when you have an iron deficiency, and the ice alleviates that.

Chuck Bryant

Oh. Okay.

Josh Clark

Which is why they crave it.

Chuck Bryant

That makes sense.

Josh Clark

Isn't that weird?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. Well, pica, just specifically, I guess we should say is craving a - or ingesting a non-food item, or I guess just the craving and then if you act on it then you're carrying out the craving.

Josh Clark

Right. And actually, if you have a weird food craving you should actually probably see a physician because it could mean like an iron deficiency or some other problem with your body.

Chuck Bryant

Right, unless you're pregnant. Don't be alarmed if you're pregnant and you want to eat some dirt because that's actually kinda common. About 20 percent of women actually feel this - this way.

Josh Clark

Uh-huh. And 50 percent eat ice.

Chuck Bryant

And the other thing that I thought was weird was this geophagia you were talking about is more common here in the south.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Oh, yeah. You don't find too many people who eat white clay up north.

Chuck Bryant

[Inaudible] Why not?

Josh Clark

I don't think there is white clay available up north.

Chuck Bryant

That's weird.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Well, that's food cravings.

Chuck Bryant

In a nutshell.

Josh Clark

In a huge nutshell.

Chuck Bryant

On a manwich bun.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Thanks to Kristen Conger for writing a really good article for us to podcast on.

Chuck Bryant

So I just want to finish up by getting this really clear. You take a sloppy Joe and you take like just the corn tortilla-ed fish taco that's open faced?

Josh Clark

Uh-huh. No, no, no.

Chuck Bryant

And you just put that on top?

Josh Clark

Not open faced. It's a taco, man.

Chuck Bryant

Well, it's not a taco until you hold it and roll it up.

Josh Clark

Right. You put it in, fold it, roll the half over, double over, and then put the bun of the sloppy Joe on top and go to town.

Chuck Bryant

With the meat and everything?

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

Just that's the weirdest thing I've ever heard. That's pica-esque.

Josh Clark

Well, if you wanna know more about pica, food cravings, or anything your brain can come up with, you just type some words into the handy search bar at howstuffworks.com and you'll be taken care of straight away. And since I said the handy search bar at howstuffworks.com that means it's time now for listener mail.

Chuck Bryant

Josh, I'm just gonna call this Henry Hill exposed.

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah?

Chuck Bryant

Remember we did our podcast recently on the witness protection program?

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

We talked about famous gangster, Henry Hill.

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

Basis of the film, Good Fellas.

Josh Clark

And My Blue Heaven.

Chuck Bryant

And My Blue Heaven. And we had a guy write in that has met Henry Hill, and here's what he has to say.

Josh Clark

Huh.

Chuck Bryant

And I think he's from England because of all the weird things he said.

Josh Clark

Did he say cheers at the bottom?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, of course.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

"I've met Henry Hill, an 'ex-entrepreneur.'" And that's in quotes. I don't know what that's supposed to mean. "And myself brought him over to England to do an after dinner gentlemen's evening type speech." I don't know what that is either. "He was also on the local TV promoting a book, I think. He was an absolute nightmare. He decided that the witness protection program was not for him, probably because he'd been kicked out of it a half a dozen times, and he was going to travel far and wide to help kids from a life of crime."

Josh Clark

Not bad.

Chuck Bryant

That's noble. "The problem was when you have a world famous gangster doing an after dinner speech, paying guests don't wanna hear him telling them stay out of trouble and behave. They want to hear him talk about Jimmy, the Gent, and the Lufthansa Heist."

Josh Clark

Sure.

Chuck Bryant

Naturally. "His minder was his UK agent and it was the first time they had ever met in person. We had a VIP dinner drink afterward with a special drink in a posh club in Liverpool. And Henry decided he kept - to keep wandering off trying to chat up the girls. Sadly, he'd also had been a little too keen on this imported product and could hardly string too words together." So it sounds like he got bombed and was hitting on chicks.Josh Clark: Oh, yeah.Chuck Bryant: That's the American translation.

Josh Clark

Keen.

Chuck Bryant

Keen.

Josh Clark

Who says that?

Chuck Bryant

"Still, for someone who's killed as many people as he has, he was a nice bloke. And despite this sounding wrong, an example of the maxim that you should never meet your heroes! Not that he was my hero, but I couldn't think of another way to put it. Lastly, he had to take him to dinner in a cab and we did a quick tour of the yellow submarine and the cavern club and other famous Beatles landmarks. And he said that he would like to sing on stage at the cavern club. And when I chuckled thinking he was joking, guess what, he did then you think I'm funny gag."

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah?

Chuck Bryant

"He did that to him, and he said it was the scariest thing he'd ever seen. Cheers, chaps, Jez." Just in case we weren't sure he was from England, "Cheers, chaps."

Josh Clark

Chaps, yeah.

Chuck Bryant

From Jez.

Josh Clark

Cheers to you, Jez. Thank you for that story. That's pretty awesome, actually. It kind of went back and forth, like I would have not liked to have hung out with Henry Hill.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

I would have loved to have hung out with Henry Hill. That happened like five times.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

I feel like I'm about to vomit.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

Well, if you have a cool story about Henry Hill or any other former gangster, celebrity, unicorn, you name it, send it in an email to stuffpodcast@howstuffworks.com.

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