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Dietary Changes and tomato Cravings

11/29 11:43:20

Hi friend, so I have a question about food cravings. I am trying to lose weight on a rice diet - been on this diet for 5 days and I've lost about 1-4 pounds so far (its difficult to tell since my water intake varies from hour to hour). The rice diet allows non-rice items but the dominant food you eat most of the time is rice. the original version was invented by kempner.

the problem is that for weeks now (even before I started this diet) I have been craving tomatoes and foods that have tomatoes in them.
Processed things like pasta, panzerotti's, canned tomato alphabet soup but I have no desire for tomatoes in their uncooked form as raw vegetables without other stuff added to them.

In light of my constant processed food cravings for things containing tomatoes, salt, vinegar or cheese - should I give in and eat some tomato juice?

the rice diet by kempner has been modified any times and very few websites have the original version online but in the original form you are supposed to avoid sour foods. He does not mention why he has the rules that he does but he made over 100 morbidly obese people attain their normal ideal weight when he was monitoring them in his medical office for 10-20 days past a full year.

What should I do about my tomato cravings and why do you think I have these cravings?


Hi Sarah,

I think you may be asking the wrong expert, because a) I am unfamiliar with the in-depth specifics/results of the Kempner diet (which is quite an old-fashioned one) and b) I specialise in holistic diets and do not have experience in medically indicated diet nor do I recommend exclusive ones focused around one food group (or product).

In my experience, taking such a diet to achieve weight-loss, you pull it out of context. I am not sure why you yourself are on it. Originally,  such diets only work as elimination cures for 3-6 weeks to help diagnose allergies and correct over-indulgence. They tend to accentuate the problem areas - which can be a useful learning process, but many people who go on such diets are not ready to learn and are looking for quick fixes instead. It seems you are different! You are starting to ask questions which invariably will lead you to holistic answers.

The main concern with this diet is a quick loss of vital nutrients in your diet. Another one is the risk of "giving in"! We want to avoid that for all weightloss diets because the key ingredient to any diet for weightloss is iron discipline and clear rules and fixed goals.

Let's first look at the context which is two-fold and discover why the rice diet might not be working for you. Back before WWII, in Europe, rice was quite a novelty (in Germany). The international food transportation industry was very limited, and rice was not indigenous to Kempner's country: so wanting to try something new and trendy he chose rice. It was fairly arbitrary in that sense and not very well medically founded - but simple robust peasant folk (Italy/Spain) and wise folk from the Orient seemed to fair well on this "unprocessed" grain. Furthermore, philosophies from the East were on trend and it was understood rice helped elevate the mind (which esoterically it does, because it is high in potassium - long al/chemical story...). In Germany, people mainly ate potatoes and milled grains, like in (rye) bread, cakes, pies etc; which were either heavy going on the digestive system or high in gluten. His main aim was to develop a fasting-diet meant to restore kidney health and cut out stodgy food, excess protein intake from fatty meats (sausages and stews and pies) and reduce the consumption of fat (which was exceedingly high in those days, because skimming seemed wasteful, and you needed to fuel up for the bitterly cold winters).

In a way such a diet can help restore a natural consciousness of what you need to eat. But it's not that simple anymore.

Rice is not the be all and end all best grain for weight loss - and the skinny, starving people on a rice dominant diet should not persuade you otherwise! It plays havoc on the digestive system after a while, causing obstipation. There are nutritional benefits in rice, to be sure, especially for kidney patients; on an energetic level it relates to the element of water and warmth (see how/where it grows!)which helps relieve oedema (water retention) and may stimulate a more dynamic kidney function. However, the way that works can only be understood from a comprehensive holistic angle with many supplementary dietary ingredients and life-style tips.

In the mean time, don't forget that losing water is one cheap trick to weight-loss. One can only hope that you know how to choose the right rice (wholegrain) and know how to prepare it well (pre-soaking to get rid of the indigestible coating) or else you won't even be getting much nutritional value out of the rice itself.

Fruit and sugar (the fuel injections Kempner allowed his patients) would now be largely scrapped out of a weight-loss diet for their high calorie content. But again the story for him may have been a lot more intangible (gut intuition or inspired by holistic science at the time). Fruits, you see, are the foodstuff most touched by the cosmic influences; the whole fruiting process involving insects especially is about introducing some kind of "animal" or "animating"(astral/star-dust) element. It makes fruit a splendid medium between heaven and earth! Some fruits however cope less elegantly with this magic mix and become hard to digest or overwhelm the system with too much "astrality". This is to say: the body loses its formative principle somewhat, and when you want to "sculpt" a new body as you do for weight-loss, you don't need that too happen too much!

Eating small portions of some fruits are fine (notably apple, pears, quince, medlars, berries, and occasionally a piece of citrus) and this will stimulate a new mind set, or invigorate your soul. However, if you overdo it you are literally trying to fly before you can walk. You sort of get "high" on fruit, and it's not just the sugar content, but that doesn't help either, because sugar exists to help you become self-aware: but in excess it inflates your little ego (makes you feel good, but you must assess whether that is a fair treat or a sustained denial of a greater truth?). In any case, stay clear of smoothies and fruit bars (which ultimately messages to your body: a homogenous heap of sweetness) and learn to enjoy the miracle of a crisp apple or sour-sweet berries. Make sure they are tasty and judge that this does not always mean plain sweet. Choose seasonally, locally or picked-ripe fruits. It's their life-force your body needs, the vitamins etc are just the outward markers of their goodness.

To be sure, medically, there can be no evidence for health benefits from the Kempner diets, outside it functioning as a kind of de-tox period or recuperative phase (for a week or two). It is a light and physically non-demanding diet,  giving the main organs a bit of a rest. Low in salt and fat and protein it is markedly "yin" and meditative, or introverting. But after a brief reevaluation period that's not what you want to be doing for weight loss: you have to get to some tougher work and train your whole body to work as a unit to supporting your wilful way through the world. You need to relearn how to work hard to deconstruct and recompose (a healthy body/mind) with natural, life-supporting basic materials. Salt and fat are invaluable to this process, but are also found naturally in leafy veg and nuts and dairy.

We nowadays concentrate on educating people what constitutes healthy fats and safe sodium levels, including the other salts; this brings us to orthomolecular science or leads to a fairly atomic-level bio-chemical analysis of one's physical needs, which may be very valid (and life-saving) at times, but can lead to supplement-frenzies at others! It seldom helps people diet with more dedication.

The positives of atomical analyses are that they come to a simple rule of thumb. They conclude invariably that you need a balanced diet from the main 5 foodgroups. This is the easiest way to check you are getting all the necessary building blocks. Once you start excluding something (as in vegetarianism or even more so in veganism or other even stricter exclusive diets)you become susceptible to trends where you steer off the well-tried path (Aryuvedic, Macrobiotics, Taoist Nutrition e.g.). However, times change and new adaptations must be made. Conclusion: it's super tricky to find the right diet for yourself until you know yourself!  A Catch 22. Until you are willing to try to get to know yourself through your emotions/relationship about/to food. This is what we really need to be teaching our children and chronically ill.

I don't see why you have not already drunk some (organic) pure tomato juice, it's a fruit after all, but I warn you, also, of its (likely added) sodium content - and that's what you are (not so secretly) really after. Usually salt is added to make it more palatable.Right now your tastebuds have become dulled by the sugariness.

And that is precisely why you have your cravings: i.e. you are automatically looking for things that will satisfy you and ground you back to yourself: the fruits have lifted you too high, the rice has made you too phlegmatic. Now the tomato PRECISELY comes to your aid. Only are you sure you are making a positive decision and not just giving up? Let's weigh it up. I'll begin by telling you about the tomato.

It is from a plant family that is specifically vigorous(solanacea) but not self-supporting. Unstaked the tomato plant flops all over the place, and when not "nipped in the bud" quite literally, it will set way too much watery fruit. The horticulturer has to help concentrate this plant in its reproductive urge! Once touched by the hot sunlight it already inclines towards the moist dark earth, becoming a heavy, watery fruit with dozens of seeds. Where varieties of this plant completely lack the inner will to organise the cosmic forces that comes in with the sunlight it becomes poisonous (potato fruits look like tomatoes and killed many an experimenting Indian back in the day!)

It is advised by anthroposophical nutritional guidelines not to overindulge in the tomato. Tomatoes are not recommended for children and specifically not for cancer patients because the Solanacea plant has a "dark side"! the English classification says it all: it's the deadly night-shade family! It is a plant which struggles to mediate between heaven and earth, and the heavy, dark earthy side tends to win. The tomato is out on probation...

It clearly has a tendency to rampant fleshy formation (just look at the tomate de boeuff, which sounds animal-like even!) and in the face of cosmic stimulation it resorts to a toxic response (fruit of potato is deadly, as is henbane). Yet, it is also a cheerful, activating fruit with its red, refreshing flesh (and a personal favorite may I add, to justify my slandering it!) To paint a very broad and generic picture: note that the tomato is typically a Mediterranean fruit (where cancer occurs somewhat less than in the rigid north - and coronary disease somewhat more!) and it seems to cause no specific ill effects because here the body is more articulate (dynamic) than the cold head-man from the North. Mind you, the tomato you describe is not so harmful for being tomato (it barely is when so much processed!!) but more so for being practically artificial all together.

We might almost be able to say that you may be tomato-like in your response to the "cosmic stimulation" of rice and fruit and that your craving for tomato may be a reticence to become that spiritualised that instantly. And that may not be a bad thing. It could be wiser to go much slower, and go on a much more (literally) sub-stantial diet (with real substance also from the earthy side of life). As you see, we are turning your craving into a fairly holistic manifestation!

What I have said about the tomato goes for peppers and egg plant, too (all from the same family, and potato too, although then we get a tuber-story). The upshot is that these fruits have a way of gripping your formative force of you body and sinking them back onto the level of matter. Digestion is all about transforming matter (foreign food into body-proper materials). Your water rice/fruit diet comes at the risk of weakening your rooting strength - think of how rice grows. Tomatoes encourage you to feel deeply (red blush) and run deep (blood red). But mark always their tendency to overwhelm and promote rampant growth which is also a problem with setting of weight. There is a telling irony in the presence of the tomato in so many fast-food products. It almost seems like a little demon then.

Possibly then, your tomato craving is to express wanting to "cut" through the insipid sweetness of this infantile or invalid rice diet. But don't let it make you give up on a regimen altogether (for whatever reason you went on it in the first place). Consider what ammendations your intelligent body is asking you to make. It's become intelligent enough now for the elimination diet, but beware that it is a new and fragile intelligence, not ready to be tempted!

You have to re-learn what is truly satisfying to you. Sponsoring a factory with your purchase, or being accounted for by plucking a tomato from a plant that grew under the stars somewhere in the middle of a cosmic nowhere? The more you get to grips with what food really IS, the better you learn who you are and what you need outside yourself. Healthy eating cannot fail to go hand  in hand with an awareness of life in general. This leads to environmental concerns but also processes in general, from economic ones (fair-trade) to production (organic). With this consciousness you will become the one doing the reaching, instead of being subjected to the stuffing or supplementing (subplanting) the consumer industry promotes. When you learn to think, feel and decide for yourself you become truly self-empowered and your body will reflect that (not by very temporary glossy magazine standards but by eternal and authentic standards of beauty and wisdom).

Now is the time to explore, and I recommend (allowing for health issues) that, at least, you also try other vegetable juices alongside the tomato juice. I cannot emphasise how beneficial an organic brand (preferably bottled in glass) will be over concentrates or carton packaged.  Try carrot juice (with lactic acid if possible), maybe mixed with apple or mango; or mixed vegetable juice. It could be a real challenge to "like" them, but then that in itself makes half the new work at hand. Start with small shot glasses, once or twice daily, treat it like medicine and progress from there.

For the sake of presenting the worst case scenario (otherwise your solution is easy peasy) I presume you have tremendous issues with eating fresh vegetables (salads) or even soups made fresh with chunks of veg, because otherwise I'd say: that is your way forward for now! More veg less fruit, always!

If you get round to trying soups, instead of tossing some rice in with them, choose quinoa, millet, buckwheat, spelt, bulghur, barley flakes, pot barley corns (delicious but need some extra soaking), and have the occasional pasta sprinkled in like that (not pre-processed!). By all means add a gallon of tomato pulp to such a conconction, a pinch of salt (choose one of many and discover their different flavours and mineral compositions, more at, e.g. http://www.vegkitchen.com/tips/a-guide-to-salt-varieties/) and "pig out" on tomato that way! Just don't have tomato juice every day.

You know where to find me if you have any new holistic questions popping up for you, otherwise I wish you much success on your dietary adventure.
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