The Logic Behind Food Cravings
Over the years while working with clients around stuck habits like procrastination, anxiety, stress, I’ve noticed an interesting trend:
Food is a very common strategy for managing stress and anxiety. And me too!
Food cravings can be triggered by a variety of physical or mental factors. A hormonal imbalance, a poor diet, high stress levels, or insufficient sleep or physical activity may cause these symptoms. Binging, weight loss, sugar addiction, cravings, etc. can often go hand-in-hand with self-sabotage, anxiety, and the great desire to get unstuck.
For about a decade I struggled with the food cravings, ups and downs of weight loss, binging on sugar, and a general obsession with food and my weight.
All of that shifted about 5 years ago – not all at once but slowly and steadily away from this chronic fixation and toward a deeper listening of what my body – and beyond – was requesting.
What has surfaced is a completely different way of navigating cravings, self-sabotage, and my own well-being.
Here are three examples from my own life of how the logic of this new understanding dramatically shifted my experience with food cravings and self-care.
Sometimes I crave food, sometimes I don’t. So the craving itself can vary in intensity from weak to overwhelming. If the craving was coming from the food – I would have to have the same response to it Every. Single. Time. I don’t. The implications of seeing that the food itself can’t cause a craving are vast. But we have it backward: Innocently projecting feelings onto an object versus recognizing the object itself cannot create a specific feeling. There is freedom here.
I don’t create cravings from my thoughts and feelings. Cravings arrive and depart just like every other thought and feeling informing my experience in every moment. This isn’t a function I can manage. It isn’t something I could ever get ahead of. There is no logic in attempting to manage what is already gone. Just like the weather arises in each moment. Sunny. Cloudy. Rainy. Stormy. It makes no logical sense for me to attempt to manage the weather. I can’t get ahead of the weather. I could spend vast amounts of energy attempting to change it from rainy to sunny via discipline and willpower and motivation. Exhausting.
Cravings beckon a look back at who is craving. They are gentle nudges or sledgehammers reminding you to see what is already here. To look more deeply into awareness itself, to who you truly are. To stop chasing what can’t be caught.
The exploration of who you are lands you in the present moment. Right Now. In the Now you can see more clearly what you are actually craving – be it more sleep, a day of fun, creative self-expression, quenching your thirst, movement, explaining your feelings, etc.
You move forward from the obvious. From a deeper understanding of your fundamental nature. This isn’t a place to get to but where you already are.
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