Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe

Podcast Episode #209: Women, Food and Desire with Alexandra Jamieson

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Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe

1.  What’s new for you from Diane [1:15] 2. Introducing our guest, Alexandra Jamieson [3:26] 3. Alex’s book release; Women, Food, and Desire [15:45] 4. The Perfect Storm [21:02] 5. Mindfulness and habits [25{12] 6. The four types of cravings [31:17] 7. Three craving/body types [40:37] 8. Final thoughts from Alex [49:45] [smart_track_player url=”″ title=”#209: Women, Food and Desire with Alexandra Jamieson” artist=”Diane Sanfilippo ” color=”00AEEF” social=”true” social_twitter=”true” social_facebook=”true” social_gplus=”true” ]


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Balance Bites: Episode #209: Women, Food and Desire with Alexandra Jamieson 

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 209.

Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast with Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe. Diane is a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo, The 21-Day Sugar Detox, and co-author of Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. Liz is a nutritional therapy practitioner, and the best-selling author of Eat the Yolks and The Purely Primal Skincare Guide. Together, Diane and Liz answer your questions, interview leading health and wellness experts, and share their take on modern paleo living with their friendly and balanced approach. Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Diane Sanfilippo: Hey everyone! Welcome back to the show. Today I am super excited to have a friend and amazing guest here on the show, and I’ll introduce her in just a moment. Before I do, I wanted to give you guys a couple of updates, so that you are in the know on all the goings on around here.

1. What’s new for you from Diane [1:15]

Diane Sanfilippo: First and foremost, I want to remind everyone who is in the San Francisco Bay area that on September 21st, so I think that’s going to be right after this show airs, you can join myself and Juli of PaleOMG and Vanessa of Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind in the Marina District at Books Inc. for a book signing. So come join us there.

And if you’ve been curious about the 21-Day Sugar Detox coaches program to help other folks along in changing their nutrition and helping to encourage them and support them, that program will be reopening for enrollment soon. It’s going to be very limited enrollment, so if you have done the program before, and you really want to help people, especially if you are already a nutrition, lifestyle, or fitness coach, that seems to be the folks who are best suited for it. People who are already coaching people in other ways, and are very skilled are coaching people but want to have a different program to help people through, then it’s a good program for you. If you’re interested, hop over to Facebook; we have a group for interest in the 21-Day Sugar Detox coaches.

And, I believe that’s it for my updates for you today!

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Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe2. Introducing our guest, Alexandra Jamieson [3:26]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, so my guest today, as I mentioned, is a personal friend of mine who I am feeling so lucky that I met just a couple of years ago, and we’ve stayed connected and love supporting each others’ work. I’m super excited to introduce her to you guys today, although I’m sure a bunch of you are familiar with her from some of her work in the past. So, Alex welcome.

Alexandra Jamieson: Thank you! So good to be here.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m so excited to chat with you! So I’m going to read your bio, and then we’ll get into the whole thing here. So Alexandra Jamieson is a bestselling author, functional nutrition and lifestyle coach, and positive psychology practitioner, chef, podcast host, and “cravings whisperer.” I love that; I think that’s amazing. Alex is the original hipster hippie, raised on an old organic farm outside Portland, Oregon; she knows how to grown her own food and cook it up in the pan. A budding ukulele player, Alex has been known to strap on her pink roller skates and run errands around Brooklyn around her neighborhood, and she loves Game of Thrones.

Alex has been seen on Oprah, The Today Show, Dr. Oz, Martha Stewart; on and on and on, and delivers inspirational keynote speeches and workshops around the globe. She was declared Elle Magazines coach for January 2015. Alex was also the co-star and co-creator of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Super Size Me” and The Great American Detox Diet, and offers remarkably sane and tasty advice on how to detox, live healthfully, and feel fantastic.

Alex, I definitely learned a view from Super Size Me, and I remember being like, I like her. I think she’s pretty sane and smart, but I don’t know about this vegan thing. And so I was like, mmm, I’m not sure about that. So how funny is it that years later we met, and you and I connected right away. I think there’s something about your West Coast meets East Coast vibe that just kind of clicked with me.

Alexandra Jamieson: {laughs} Yeah. We saw each other and started giggling over chocolate, I think.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} That sounds about right.

Alexandra Jamieson: But I think we met right after I kind of came out as no longer vegan.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think so.

Alexandra Jamieson: And we had a lot to talk about.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, I think so. I’m super excited to talk to you; I’m super excited to introduce you to our listeners, because I think you have so many amazing bits of information, resources, stories and support to share with our listeners. I feel like they’re at this point where this is almost a next level on a lot of things that they’ve been learning about over the years from us and from other resources.

Diane Sanfilippo: So, can you give people who maybe aren’t as familiar with you a little bit of your story in terms of how you came to learning about holistic health and nutrition, and just a quick overview of how you did dive into the whole vegan philosophy, and then how you ended up coming out of that. Because as much as I’m sure you’ve told this story a whole bunch of times, I think a lot of our listeners could really benefit from hearing that.

Alexandra Jamieson: So I did grow up on an old organic farm. My mom had an organic gardening radio show for over a decade, so she was the local Google for organic gardeners in the 70s and 80s. And we put a lot of weekend time into growing plants and food. But I was a serious sugar addict. And because we didn’t have any junk food in the house, I did everything my little 8-year-old brain could come up with. So I found out that the kids down the street at Sunday School got cookies and Kool-Aid and treats in Sunday school. So I started going to church by myself around the age of 8 just for snacks. That’s how much I wanted sugar. {laughs} And my parents let me. They’re like; yeah, it’s down the street. You’ll be ok.

So all of my extra money through my teens; late teens, early 20s, went to junk food. By the time I hit the age of 25, I was really sick. I had migraine headaches almost every day. I had this kind of low level depression. I was 30 pounds heavier than I had been in college, so I was continuing to gain weight after college. I had all this joint pain and just, I was taking handfuls of Advil every day, and tons of sugar and caffeine to get through. I realized; I need help with this. I can’t take this much Advil. That can’t be good for you.

So I went to a doctor, and you know how it is when you go to a more traditionally western medicine doctor, within a few minutes I had prescriptions for pain killers and Prozac. That was the answer from this doctor. And I felt, I just felt like that wasn’t the answer. I grew up in a family, unfortunately where you were either a sugar addict or a drug or alcohol addict. And I sometimes joke that luckily my addiction was sugar, but I did not want to go down the road of prescription drug abuse and addiction. I’m like, I’m 25! I should not be this sick!

So went to another doctor, what we would now call a functional medicine doctor. A guy with a Buddha and ferns in his office. And we sat down together, and he talked to me for an hour. And he asked me what I was eating. And when I told him, he said, ugh! No wonder you’re sick. So he put me on, he gave me this list of foods to eat, a list of foods to avoid, and gave me a whole bunch of supplements to help balance my body. I had full systemic Candida overgrowth, I was eating all kinds; just junk food. Pure junk takeout food constantly.

And when I saw the list of foods, I almost cried, because it was everything I was eating. But it felt like the right thing to do. And I went to the library to get some more information on nutritional eating, and I discovered all these thousands of books, and I got so interested. I first read Diet for a New America at that point, by John Robbins, and I had never heard of veganism before, but it just felt like the right way to go. Because he was talking about having the same kind of health issues that I was. So I tried this whole foods, plant based veganism, and within a couple of weeks I felt amazing. I woke up one morning, and I remember waking up and feeling clear and awake and having energy. I was like, wow, I could actually start going to the gym! I feel good. And that was when I got really passionate about food and veganism.

Not long after that, I decided to go back to school and go to the natural gourmet institute here in New York City, which is a total hippie cooking school, it’s a great professional training program. And they teach you Ayurvedic cooking, macrobiotic cooking, gluten free, raw, and this was 16 years ago so it was a little bit ahead of the current food renaissance we’re in. But right when I started cooking school was when I met my now ex, Morgan. And all I talked about was healthy food, and quinoa, and kale, and he was a budding film maker. And together we came up with this crazy idea for Super Size Me. He was like, what if I just eat nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days? And a little light bulb went off over his head, and I said, no! Don’t do it! You’re going to get so sick!

Luckily he did. He got very sick, and he filmed it. And it turned into this incredible; it was the right moment, and it was the right film. It was funny and educational, and it showed a lot of what was happening in the food culture at that moment. It took us around the world; we got nominated for an Oscar, went on Oprah. I know your love of Oprah, Diane. {laughs} It was the start of my career, was that film.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so you go around the world with the movie, and at this point you were eating a vegan diet, correct? For how long were you eating that way, and what was the world that you were in and the lifestyle? How did that impact everything about your life? I’m really curious about that. Because we’ve actually never even talked about that, as friends.

Alexandra Jamieson: Yeah, I felt great on a vegan diet for the first 10 years, actually. We traveled a lot, but I was always really good at packing my own food, planning ahead, mapping out places I could eat. If we were traveling on the road, I would just, you know, where’s the Whole Foods? Where’s the next health food store? So I was happy. I was fine.

Then, in my mid 30s, that’s when… I had my son when I was 32, and around the age of 33-34, a lot of stuff happened at once so it’s hard to pick apart which was the first domino that fell. {laughs} What was the straw. But my hormones started to change drastically. My menstrual cycle, which had come back pretty soon after I had my son, it started coming every 2 weeks, so I was really depleted, really exhausted really anemic. I’ve always been a little anemic, but I was really anemic. I was also going through a divorce, and a separation, and I had a little toddler, and it was really, really stressful. So it’s hard to see; was it the stress, was it the diet? Who knows? Basically I was so stressed out and depleted that the diet wasn’t supporting me, for whatever reason. I started craving meat.

I had written 3 vegan cookbooks at this point, but I was trying everything within the vegan framework. Super foods, and more high protein stuff, and more sea vegetables. Everything you’re supposed to do. All the supplements, all the sea veggies. I had written 3 books on vegan nutrition, so I knew what I was supposed to be doing. And nothing was working. I went to an acupuncturist, I went to a chiropractor; I went to every alternative doctor you could imagine. It was actually my acupuncturist who said, I think you should be eating liver and kidneys. I was like, can I have kidney beans instead? {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing} That’s amazing.

Alexandra Jamieson: And she’s authentic old school Chinese acupuncturist, and she looks at me and she goes, “No, that won’t work. You need meat.”

Diane Sanfilippo: Aww.

Alexandra Jamieson: She was the first person who was like, you need to stop this whole vegan thing. But I fought it. I resisted it, because that was my brand. That was my whole online community, and I was scared. But I was really craving it. Every time somebody in a restaurant would be eating a burger or salmon near me, my mouth would just start watering {laughs}. But emotionally, I was really tied up in knots, because I just swallowed the whole ethos of the vegan community; that I couldn’t be an animal lover, I couldn’t be an environmentalist if I ate meat, no matter how my health was suffering. I just couldn’t do it.

Finally I realized; I’m coaching people. Here I am, a health coach, and I’m helping people get well, and having them not have judgment about their food, and I am the most judgmental person, and I won’t allow myself to change what I’m eating because I’m afraid what people will think of me. And it’s really challenging. We really define ourselves by what we eat. And that particular community was very vehemently opposed to anyone eating animal products. Even if I felt my body needed it. So it was scary. It was scary to change.

3. Alex’s book release; Women, Food, and Desire [15:45]

Diane Sanfilippo: I think part of what you’re talking about with essentially the craving; that’s a real physical craving that’s coming from a physical depletion and a need that your body has that seems to tie really, really perfectly to; we’re talking now because we’re excited to let people know about the re-release of your book Women, Food, and Desire in paperback, which is really excited. It’s an amazing book, but I think there’s this huge tie in with the physical craving that you were having then, and a lot of the work that you’ve done since then and still do now with women primarily around cravings and desires and also the potential stigma that comes from what they really want physically and emotionally, and what that means for their food, and their life, and their lifestyle, and their choices. Do you want to introduce people a little bit to some of the theories and the topics that you talk about in the book and how that kind of all pulls together?

Alexandra Jamieson: Yeah, I was really inspired by my own personal experience first. I had to go through the dark night of the soul and get reacquainted with my body, and learn to listen to her. When I finally started eating meat again, everything changed. My physical body rebounded, my energy came back, my menstrual cycle went back to a healthy 28 days. Man I was a mess, and it was incredible when I first started eating meat, my body said, oh yes, thank you! My emotions and my mental state, that was another story. I was still in these moral knots about what I was eating. I had so much judgment about putting meat into my body.

I realized that, if this food is healing my body, would I deny that to my pet? You know, you and I are huge cat lovers. Would I deny my cat the food that she needs to be well? No, I would give her what she needs. I finally came around. I realized I’m an animal too, and we are the only species that seems to need advice from other beings to tell us what to eat. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Alexandra Jamieson: For what’s healthy for us.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s where humans go wrong, is that we try and think something that we should feel and be instinctual about. But we intellectualize it, and that’s kind of where it goes astray. But understandably what’s happened with farming over the years is something that; you know, it’s obvious why humans have these emotional ties to how we interact with other animals. So I get it.

Alexandra Jamieson: Absolutely! We are emotional creatures. We can’t deny that. People have shame around being emotional eaters, and I believe we all are emotional eaters. It’s what makes us human. It’s what connects us to our family, our tribe, the people that we share our lives with. It can be a really beautiful thing. But what’s happened in our modern culture is that there’s so much shame, judgment, and rules, and shoulds about food and your body and how you’re supposed to look and how you’re supposed to act, from such a young age that we stop listening to our bodies. We listen to other people’s about what we should be doing. So the connection between our physical self and our mental knowing is cut off from an early age.

And this is true for men and for women, but it’s especially hard for women because there’s so much morality placed on our bodies. You know, from a really young age, just when we’re starting to become self aware, we learn that sex is really dangerous for girls, and you have one golden gem of a gift to give to the right person, but if you do it wrong or give it to the wrong person, you’re somehow tainted. So your body is a dangerous place. And food becomes kind of the safe form of pleasure that we’re allowed. But at the same time, don’t go too far down that pleasure path with food because god forbid you should get fat. You know? It’s like our bodies are so judged and so much pressure is put on us that to just be at ease with food, and feel what feels good to you is very, very challenging.

So there’s a lot, I believe, and I talk about this in Women, Food, and Desire, I believe that there’s a lot of overlap between our sexuality and our comfort with our sexual selves and pleasure, and play, and our interaction with food. So if food is our only safe outlet for physical pleasure, you can bet that those sugar and ice cream cravings are going to take over. Because you don’t have a safe outlet for physical intimacy in other ways.

4. The Perfect Storm [21:02]

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, and add on top of that the development of processed fast foods, prepacked foods in the last, I would say, about 40 years basically for our lifetimes, the food landscape has changed so drastically. So if we look at what would have been available to women before that food-wise, it was so different. To be able to be more intuitive about what to eat was perhaps at least slightly easier in the absence of these hyper palatable salt/sugar/fat types of foods that just hit every cord that we want them to hit, right, and then on top of that as well the societal pressures from media and television, film, magazines, all this stuff. All of it comes together, right? We’re inundated with photos and images of appearances that are totally impossible; they’re not even real for the person in the picture; they’re Photo Shopped. Combine all that together, and it’s the perfect storm to have this mess of what we’re eating, how we’re feeling, how we handle all of that.

Alexandra Jamieson: Right. And it’s really challenging for people who want to have a stronger connection with their own body, and go down the path of maybe more intuitive eating, or what I like to call soulful eating. How do you really start to listen to your body when your cravings for that food porn and that hyper processed chemicalized junk food, and the emotional porn of reality TV, which gives us those super, super highs and sure, super lows that humans are really attracted to. Since it’s not our pain, it’s a little bit more palatable to watch something else, like the Biggest Loser or one of those reality shows because it takes me away from my own discomfort and my own life, but I can still have an emotional rollercoaster by watching somebody else while I’m eating Oreos and Doritos on the couch. That is the perfect storm, right? It allows us to disconnect from our own situation, but still engage in the rollercoaster ride of neurotransmitters.

It’s really hard to step out of that paradigm, because you have to really change how you spend your time, and maybe who you’re spending your time with, or how you hang out with people. If you’re watching this kind of TV, if you’re indulging in that kind of food, and everybody else in your life; your friends, your colleagues, your family members, are really totally into the junk food or reality TV, or everybody at work is constantly talking about body image, or there’s a negative body image culture who you hang out with, that can make it really hard for you to change.

In positive psychology, there’s this idea that you are the 5 people you hang out with most. We have what’s called mirror neurons; we mirror and habituate to what the people around us do as humans, because we’re a hyper social species. It keeps us in rapport. It keeps us feeling like we’re connected like we’re a tribe. But that means that you will pick up the habits, both good and bad, of the people you spend the most time with.

It’s really helpful to think about your community, and hang out with people who are on the healthier edge, and who maybe like to go do things rather than watch the latest episode of Mob Wives. {laughs} Doing coloring parties, or knitting parties; whatever. Just movies or TV that is more uplifting and doesn’t put you on that emotional rollercoaster. All of these things play together to create the food culture that keeps us stuck in this knot with our bodies and food.

5. Mindfulness and habits [25{12]

Diane Sanfilippo: I love the idea of getting in touch with our cravings and being more mindful about it. I know you talk a lot about mindfulness as well as habits in Women, Food, and Desire. Are there a couple of points that you want to just kind of enlighten our listeners on about these things and areas of mindfulness and of habits that we may not really be thinking about; things that contribute to just giving ourselves more of a struggle than we need to have because we’re a little out of touch, perhaps, with mindfulness or we’re not even aware of certain habits that we have.

Alexandra Jamieson: Yeah, you know habits can be one of the best tools when it comes to transforming your body, transforming your life; just knowing how they work is such a great first step. All habits are a 3-step process. You get triggered to take an action that gives you a reward. So it’s trigger, action, reward. Let’s say it’s 3 o'clock, I want a mochaccino, I feel awake and happy. {laughs} I get some serotonin and some dopamine.

Diane Sanfilippo: So I shouldn’t mention the second iced coffee that I’m having right now that actually is a mocha with some {laughs} coconut milk gelato that I put on top, because I was like, this sounds really good right now {laughing}.

Alexandra Jamieson: That sounds amazing; will you please share the recipe for that?

Diane Sanfilippo: I will. How funny though; I’m sorry, it was just so funny.

Alexandra Jamieson: I love that. When it’s a daily habit, and it’s not the healthiest ingredients, it can become a problem. But basically, looking at what triggers you to take the action, and in this context it’s usually a food of some sort, what are the triggers in your life, and what is the reward that you’re looking for. Usually the reward that we want is calm, or awake, or gives me a break. A lot of people in the middle of their workday, they get triggered by something. It can be yawning, it could be a meeting, it could e a coworker, a boss, a phone call that triggers them to want sugar, or caffeine, or potato chips, or something. But the reward is what you want to look at; because you want to keep giving yourself those good things. You want the reward, the end state. Do you need relaxation techniques? Do you need to have more movement toys in your office? Do you need to get up and go hang out with somebody that you liked for a few minutes?

When I worked in an office, my last corporate desk job, I would go do what I call now bathroom aerobics.

Diane Sanfilippo: Of course you did, Alex.

Alexandra Jamieson: As I was changing my diet and trying to be more healthy. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I can picture you doing this; that’s so your personality. I love it. I need to hear what this is all about.

Alexandra Jamieson: Ok, so I would go to the bathroom {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I think this is why we’re friends; I’m sorry, it’s just too funny.

Alexandra Jamieson: {laughs} So instead of my normal thing, which was a super big gulp of Dr. Pepper in the afternoon, I would go to the bathroom and do like 20 pushups against the sink, and I would do the wall sit in either one of the cubes or just against the wall in the bathroom for a minute, do some jumping jacks, do some yoga stretches. Like, go take a 5 minute aerobics break in the bathroom. Because I worked on the 57th floor; I couldn’t get outside, go downstairs, and take a walk because it would take 20 minutes, and I couldn’t be gone that long.

But also, we humans, we need other people. And one of the most relaxing things we can do, instead of sugar, which the ultimate end reward of sugar for many people, unless it’s a bacterial craving and it’s a Candida overgrowth; that’s a different kind of craving, and I should go through those 4 different kinds of cravings. But the end result for a lot of sugar cravings is to just feel relaxed and happy. We humans need a lot more touch and a lot more fun than we get. A lot of scientists say we need 6 to 8 hugs a day that last at least 6 seconds a piece. So we need at least 45 to 60 seconds of hugging a day. Most of us do not get that many hugs.

So find a friend who; we don’t want to tip off HR that there’s any weirdness going on.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Alexandra Jamieson: Find a friend, or who can you go hang out with that makes you laugh. Can you take a few breaks during the day to be with someone and interact with them? We need that oxytoxin, that human connection. That makes us happy and calm. If you have more of that, then the trigger for sugar won’t be as strong. So it’s these little lifestyle hacks that help you feel the way that you want to feel without the food that’s messing up your life.

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6. The four types of cravings [31:17]

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that, and I’m totally inspired to add something to my Sugar Detox program that gives people tools to get that feeling without the sugar. Obviously, we’re helping them change their food, but I’m super excited and motivated now, so thank you for that.

Do you want to talk about the types of cravings? I think this would be really cool to let people in on.

Alexandra Jamieson: Absolutely. Now, when you introduced me as the cravings whisperer, I had 2 clients call me the cravings whisperer within the space of a week of each other. They’re like, oh you’re totally helping me figure out what those cravings mean. Because cravings from my perspective are just your body’s request for balance in some way.

There are 4 root causes of cravings. The first is bacterial; nutritional; emotional; and then physical. So bacterial cravings, as I’m sure most of your audience knows, because these are some well-read; these are nutrition nerds, I know it. You know that the body is 9-10 times more bacterial and yeast cells than it is human cells. And those bacteria and yeast communicate with your brain via the vagus nerve from your gut microbiome. They tell the brain what to eat, and they need fuel. So if you have dysbiosis, if you have an overgrowth of Candida like I did, they will be talking to your brain and telling it to get up off the couch at 9:30 at night and go the freezer and get the Ben and Jerry’s. Really, they are crying out for sugar. So that bacterial craving for sugar and carbohydrates is very, very real.

Once that is handled, and that one really does require Diane’s 21-Day Sugar Detox {laughs}. That one really does require changing and replacing some of your foods for a while to get that imbalance. But the other nutritional craving; this is the second root cause, and this is the one that I was experiencing the most when I needed to change from vegan to omnivore, was the nutritional cravings. I was really, really depleted in some major; in iron, and lots of different micronutrients, and probably some macronutrients as well. Probably some protein needed to be added.

But is your body asking you in the best way that it can for nutrients that it’s missing? As most of you know, the Standard American Diet, we are overfed and undernourished. We don’t get the nutrients that we need from our diet. So your body might be continually telling you to eat, eat, eat, eat, because you’re not getting the vitamins and minerals that you need for basic functioning.

The third root cause of cravings is emotional, and this is I think something that most diet plans do not address, and in that way they really fail us. Because we need to address the fact that all human beings have emotion, emotion speaks through your body with symptoms and with sensation, and a lot of us experience sadness, loneliness, emotional pain, anger, frustration, as a craving. Because your body knows that food in some way will help it calm down. And loneliness is very physically painful. The same part of the brain that lights up when you're lonely is the same part that lights up when you're in physical pain. And your body knows that sugar, or carbs, or dairy, etc. will help calm that down. So your body is really doing the best it can for you to help you feel a little bit better.

So in that way, we could actually say; wow, my body is kind of amazing. I just need to see and really look at the emotions that are happening in my life, and how they’re causing me to choose foods to deal with that state, and start looking for other tools, other ways to handle and sit with and deal with those emotions in a different way.

And then there’s the physical. We are physical beings. We are animals as much as we are humans, and we need play and fun in our bodies. We need movement, we need pleasure. The human body was built to function best when in the state of physical pleasure. That’s why sex feels good; so we will procreate. That’s why food gives us a high; so we will eat and not starve to death. And humans learn best while playing, because judgment gets turned off and you learn really fast. Your proprioception, your understanding of your body and space just goes on. It’s incredible. And we know from so many studies that human babies and mammal babies will not thrive, they’ll not put on weight if they’re not touched, if they’re not cuddled, if they’re not held.

The same is true of adults. We need that physical touch, we need play, we need fun. But we don’t give it to ourselves because we’re so focused on work, we’re so worried about responsibilities that we don’t make time for the real pleasures in life. And so, again, if we don’t have those other physical pleasures in life, then food becomes our only safe form of pleasure.

Diane Sanfilippo: That is all, like I can think back to so many times in my life when food was such a soothing element, and I think about loneliness, and what you’re saying about how food triggers some of the pain reduction that happens from loneliness, to just kind of quiet that and make us feel better, and it just makes so much sense. I think it makes so much sense for people who are listening and who are feeling; gosh, you know, I don’t know why a program like the Sugar Detox doesn’t work for me. Or any of these nutritional programs; if it doesn’t work for you, it’s not about the food.

Alexandra Jamieson: Right.

Diane Sanfilippo: Only if it’s really about the food, and just learning how to make better choices. You know, we create programs for people all the time that are nutritional programs but those work when people really don’t know what’s the best thing to eat and when they learn something new they create those new habits, and that works great, and it resets their body, and fantastic. But I think it’s so important, especially for women, to hear that there are things going on that are totally about our lifestyles, and our lack of connection with other people that drive us to crave different types of food.

Are there certain foods that you want to tell people about, like different emotional maybe paths that were not fulfilling or different elements of our life or different reasons why we crave different things?

Alexandra Jamieson: One of my favorite examples is magnesium deficiency. This is one of the most common nutrition cravings that women, especially in the western world, are experiencing. It’s true for men, as well, but it’s like a plague for women. And we have this magnesium deficiency because so many of our foods are magnesium depleted now a days. And your body, in its wisdom, knows that the tastiest, most delicious food that’s going to give it the magnesium it needs; which food do you think women crave the most, especially around the menstrual cycle, that gives them the magnesium that they’re body needs?

Diane Sanfilippo: Well I’d be cheating, because I’m pretty sure I just know the answer to this.

Alexandra Jamieson: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Chocolate?

Alexandra Jamieson: Chocolate! That’s right! {laughs} So for my real chocoholics; and believe me, I have nothing against chocolate. There’s times when I go off sugar, there’s times when I go off certain foods just to give my body a reset but I love chocolate. I don’t think there’s anything bad or wrong about it. And, you can choose the kinds of chocolate that are going to give you the taste and the sensation that you want without the negative side effects of the sugar, the dairy, etc. But there’s great magnesium rich foods that you can include; like chia seeds, hemp seeds, certain sea veggies, and for my real chocoholics, I say add in some of these foods, and we see the chocoholism naturally decrease a little bit.

But you also have to address the emotional component of chocolate, and how it is a source of pleasure. Ok, what else do we need to build into your life that will bring you pleasure? So it’s rarely, like you said, just nutrition. For my folks, anyway. It’s rarely just nutrition. It has to go hand in hand with the emotional and physical cravings.

7. Three craving/body types [40:37]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, what are the types that you like to teach people about? Is it cravings types or just different types of women that we have different issues going on? How do you classify people when you’re talking about Women, Food, and Desire?

Alexandra Jamieson: Mm-hmm. So I, for the last 16 years I’ve been a student of Ayurvedic medicine and Ayurvedic food, and you know Ayurveda is the traditional system of medicine from India. It’s a sister science to yoga, and it’s what Deepak Chopra studied. It’s an old way of looking at the body and how different foods affect different people. And in Ayurveda, there’s 3 doshas, or body types.

I did not invent this; I basically rebranded the Ayurvedic doshas as the craving types, because it’s an excellent way to help people start seeing how different foods affect their energy and their body health. So I rebranded what’s called vata, pitta, and kapha; which makes no sense to the western ear as feather weight, fire brand, and earth mama, or earth papa.

So that, you can already kind of think; oh, if I’m a feather weight, you can kind of imagine what that means. It’s a person who is either a little bit smaller boned, thinner, either a little bit more petite and wispy or very tall and thin. They tend to be more dry, more airy, a little spacey, a little bit more usually in the creative fields. They usually need warming foods and grounding foods; so actually some fat, some protein. They need to stay away from colder foods and dryer foods, and they do much better when they have those foods that are more grounding and nourishing in a dampening kind of way. So things like sweet potatoes and good organ meats, and ghee. So those foods help that kind of person when they’re feeling imbalanced.

And then there’s the fire brand, who is very hot, and very athletic, and very forward moving, and focused, and fast. That kind of person can get too hot and burn out. Sometimes they have rosacea and skin issues. They have sweating, they have profuse sweating. So they actually need more cooling foods.

The earth mama/earth papa, they can be really just grounded and rooted in their body. They’re actually very comfortable with their sexuality when they’re balanced. But when they’re imbalanced, they kind of become like mud and water; they become stuck and sedentary and oily, and they can have constipation and they can get depressed. So that person in those imbalanced states, they need more light foods. Sometimes they need warming, sometimes they need cooling.

But it’s just one path into helping people understand their cravings and their bodies, in a different way. On an energetic level, on a seasonal food kind of level. It’s just really interesting. It’s a fun way to play with food and feel like, oh, my body reacts this way to different foods. Or wow, those foods; like for myself I’m kind of a feather weight and a fire brand mix; a lot of people are dual types. And in the winter, I cannot eat cold food. I cannot have salad, I cannot do green smoothies. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Alexandra Jamieson: I have to have oatmeal with butter, and nuts, and soup, hot soup, with lots of meat.

Diane Sanfilippo: What about the earth mama, or earth papa?

Alexandra Jamieson: So the earth mama/earth papa, they can get, again, kind of muddy. They can get too heavy, bogged down. They can lose all their energy, and just want to sit on the couch and sleep all the time. Also different kinds of exercises work for the different types. So, the earth mama needs, maybe a bit more aerobics rather than weight lifting. They need to have stuff that’s a little bit more light feeling; maybe some dance classes. Whereas the feather weight person actually needs some weight lifting to help them feel more grounded and rooted in their body. So all these different types have different lifestyle techniques that are helpful, and different foods that are helpful.

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Diane Sanfilippo: Super interesting, and I think sometimes for people who almost over-intellectualize everything; like, this way is supposed to be the best way for everybody, but they’re not seeing the most obvious thing. So it’s like somebody who is long and lean, like you are, you have a long and lean lovely shape. People who tend to have a shape that seems best fitted for a certain type of activity, like you look like running would be easy and comfortable for you, right? Where as someone with my shape where I’m just a little thicker, just I look like a gymnast or someone who {laughs} should be weight lifting. But what I think you’re talking about is how we can ground and balance ourselves by doing activities that maybe don’t necessarily feel like they come as naturally, but when we do them, it starts to let us feel more balanced and come back into this place of; oh, my body actually feels pretty good doing that, or it might be a little bit of a stretch to do it at first, but then once you’re doing it, you do start to feel; yeah, just that balance and a little bit calmer about things.

Alexandra Jamieson: And I think you just hit on something that’s really important, that again is missing from the conversation when it comes to diet, weight loss, etc. How do you want to feel? We forget to ask that. It’s all about look. You know? How are you going to look.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Yeah.

Alexandra Jamieson: Well, you know, you can talk to models. I have some friends who are models and actresses; and everyone has body shame. Even when they’re a size 2, they’re still so concerned and worried about their body. So you might reach your goal weight, and you’re still not going to feel the way you want to feel. How do you want to feel in your body; is it free? Is it peaceful? Is it confident? Is it secure? Is it light? What are the words, what are the sensations, how are the states of being that you want to experience more often? What do you need to start eating and doing and experiencing? What are the habits that you can build into your life? Who are the people that you can hang out with? What’s the job? How do you want your house to be to help you feel that way every day?

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that so much. So, so much. I literally just was talking about this on a previous episode of the show, as well all over Facebook or Instagram {laughs} where ever I was posting that I recently stepped back from Crossfit, because I’m feeling strong. I’ve felt strong for a long time, but I don’t feel capable, which is weird. I feel like my body feels a little clunky and a little not as capable as it used to be. I used to be able to move in ways that were very diversified and I could start something and I would be okay at it, no matter what it was. But lately it just wasn’t feeling that way, and I did start working with a trainer who I worked with years ago, and that was kind of the beginning of the conversation. It was like; what’s your goal, and for me it was, I want to feel capable. And for me it’s physically capable, because I feel emotionally and intellectually and work-wise, I’m feeling very capable. But physically have not been feeling that. Isn’t that interesting?

Alexandra Jamieson: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I just think it’s like…

Alexandra Jamieson: It’s beautiful!

Diane Sanfilippo: So interesting.

Alexandra Jamieson: So great.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh these podcasts are so fun.

Alexandra Jamieson: {laughs}

8. Final thoughts from Alex [49:45]

Diane Sanfilippo: We get to talk about all this stuff. So, what else do you want to tell people? I think our listeners, this lesson about how we want to feel, and having a lot of respect for that and allowing ourselves; I was just thinking about this recently, you know, in the shower when I have amazing thoughts, thinking about how so many people exercise because they don’t like their body the way it is, or eat a certain way to change their body because they don’t like the way it is, and instead of looking at it that way; I know this how do you want to feel is a huge part of what Danielle LaPorte teaches in her Desire Map; I know you quoted her within Women, Food, and Desire, and that seems like such a great direction for our listeners of this show to start putting their minds in.

I know that’s so many of the women that come into your programs and work with you; they’re so focused on the food and the fitness and all of that, and all of the numbers and tangible things, right, that they can control and change to try and have a certain outcome, and totally lose sight of, well how do you even feel about all of this? Do you even want to be doing this? {laughs} First of all, do you really want to do this? Second of all, is this actually contributing to you feeling happier, more at peace, calmer, more loved? Is that even what you really want? If what you really want is to feel loved, then is changing your food the thing you really need to be doing? You know?

Alexandra Jamieson: Right. Or, maybe changing your food is part of that; I know there was certainly a time, in my mid-20s, when I got really sick, I was barely functioning and I did need to change how I was eating. But when I finally got a little clarity, when I had been off sugar for a couple of weeks, when I finally got clear I was able to look around at my life, and realize, I hate my job. My job is not; no wonder I’ve been eating so much sugar. I hate it here; I hate it here with a passion. I have to find something else to do with my life.

I also realized; my relationship is not where I want to be. I ended up changing my career, going back to school, ending my relationship, changing my entire diet within a space of 4 to 6 months. That’s a lot of change at once. {laughs} You know, it’s not always so easy. It’s more challenging to do it as you get older, and you have more kids, and you have responsibilities. But you often, when you get clear with your food, you see; ah. I’ve been hiding something from myself, or I’ve been hiding from something. And what it really takes, and what you’ve done so beautifully, Diane ,with your community is you’ve created a safe place for people to come with your cleanses and with your programs and even with your podcasts, and that’s what I’m trying to do as well is just have a community online where people can come and get into inquiry about what it is that they want, and then start using habits and start using this different way of looking at life, and your body, and food to make those big life changes that are sometimes behind the menu.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that. You have a podcast; is it the Crave Cast?

Alexandra Jamieson: It is the Crave Cast. Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Yeah.

Alexandra Jamieson: We just had our one-year anniversary.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh, congratulations! That’s amazing. Podcasting ain’t easy.

Alexandra Jamieson: It ain’t easy but it’s so fun.

Diane Sanfilippo: It is so fun.

Alexandra Jamieson: I love these conversations. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: It is so much fun. And Women, Food, and Desire; when did it originally release? Was it about a year ago?

Alexandra Jamieson: It came out in January of this year.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok.

Alexandra Jamieson: And the paperback is just coming out now.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s super exciting. I think your resources; and do you also still have some group coaching that you do with women?

Alexandra Jamieson: I do.

Diane Sanfilippo: What’s the scoop on that?

Alexandra Jamieson: I do some smaller group programs where people have a lot of one on one time with me, and then I do a bigger group program called the cravings cleanse and mindset makeover, which has a lot of positive psychology tools woven into it. Which I think is, again, the mindset piece is such an important aspect that most programs are missing.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I think that’s kind of a perfect place for the folks who are listening who feel like, you know, you’ve taken on either going paleo, or you tried the 21-Day Sugar Detox, and you’re like, ok great, well I did that for a while. Either you stuck to it or you didn’t, whatever happened. If what we’re talking about today feels like; they mentioned some things that I think I have going on, if you’ve got something going on that you think is more of an emotional reason than just not understanding what to eat; because a lot of the programs that we create, we know, because we’ve been there, that a lot of people really don’t know what they “should” be eating. It’s like, we don’t create a program to dictate; you should eat this, you should eat that. It’s more like permission to eat fat again {laughs} and you know, showing people and guiding them to real whole foods that they don’t need to be scared of that I think a lot of us were scared of for a long time.

But you know, if that stuff doesn’t work for you and you feel like you just don’t know what’s at the root of all this; this is the important work to really do. Because changing the way you eat for 3 weeks, a month, 2 months, whatever it is, is fine and it’s helpful and you learn a lot. But when you keep falling into these habits that you’re just not understanding why or where they’re coming from, it is so often a physical or an emotional craving that just changing the food; yeah, it can enlighten a lot of things for you in your life and let you know about a lot of things, but there’s more work to be done. You know? And there’s help. And there’s so much information and support. And I think that’s such a beautiful thing, that your community is a place for people to talk about that openly.

Alexandra Jamieson: Mm, thank you. I love it. I love this work so much. I know you love what you do. It’s a pleasure. It’s really an honor to get to this with people.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love it. So where can people find out so much more; obviously the Crave Cast is a great place for everyone, of course our podcast listeners, to check it out and tune in there as well, but where else can folks get more information from you.

Alexandra Jamieson: Yeah, so you can go to and that gives you all the goodies, and the info, and some bonuses and things and fun stuff to get started.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. So I want to remind you guys; your new paperback version of Women, Food, and Desire; well actually, when it released, and not that long ago, it was a number one on Amazon in several categories. It was also chosen by as a top nonfiction winter book, and is one of 12 books to help you through a tough divorce, even. So lots of resources there, not just really about food. I just think this is important for people to know that getting to know ourselves a little bit better, and what types of things, like you said, trigger us and have us create these habits that maybe we didn’t want or we do want; I just think this information is so valuable for everyone.

Alexandra Jamieson: Thank you so much. I’m really excited to share it with your folks here.

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright you guys, that’s it for this week. You can find me, Diane, at You can find Liz at, and you can find more about Alex at Don’t forget to join our email lists for free goodies and updates you don’t find anywhere else on our websites or even on the podcast. And while you’re on the internet, leave us an iTunes review. We’ll see you next week.

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