I used to get wicked cravings. I craved sweets, especially chocolate. I craved salty food like chips and pretzels (chocolate covered pretzels were the typical favorite). I would get cravings daily. Most of the time I would satisfy my craving by eating whatever it was that I thought I wanted. Other times I would completely deprive myself and beat myself up for having such a “weakness”. Regardless of which option I chose, the cravings didn’t go away, no matter how many Dove chocolates I stuffed in my face.
I realized something yesterday. I really don’t get cravings anymore.
Every once in a while, one will come along. When we first moved to Georgia I craved cake, but I was able to find what was underneath that craving.
If you read my blog from a few weeks ago then you know I had a “problem” with cake the first time I moved away. I used cake to cope with the sadness and loneliness I felt being away from home. It only made sense that I was craving cake again – it’s an old coping mechanism. My subconscious remembers. The difference now is that I’m aware of it. I’m on to myself. I know the cake is a cover for what I really want – connection and comfort. It’s a distraction from what I’m feeling – sadness.
When we crave food, we are typically craving something else in life. Food becomes the cover, and a distraction from what we’re really feeling.
When we satisfy the craving with food we’re not getting to the root of what’s missing. When we fight the craving to remain in control and stay “on track” we’re not addressing the source of what we’re feeling. Instead, we’re fighting with ourselves, against ourselves. I mean, can you even let that sink in for a second?
This cycle would typically play out in two scenarios (for me, anyway):
Craving = give in & eat what I’m craving = feel bad (why did I eat that?)
Craving = fight it & remain in control = feed bad (deprivation)
It’s a losing battle every time. Both scenarios result in feeling bad, because there is still something missing – the underlying feeling that caused the craving in the first place has not been addressed. When you don’t allow the emotion, it gets stuffed down temporarily. It will come back.
It sounds like a dreadful loop, doesn’t it? The good news is that it’s a loop you can get out of.
The next time you have a craving for food, get curious with yourself. Play the investigator.
Ask yourself some questions:
Am I really hungry right now? If not, why do I want to eat? What do I really want?
See what comes up for you. Notice the answers, and how they make you feel. What can you do for yourself in that moment to satisfy what you truly want?
Understanding why we have cravings is the first step towards reducing them. The BARE program helped me learn so much about myself, my cravings, and why I eat emotionally. It can help you do the same. Once you’re on to yourself, there’s no going back.