keeping cravings at bay
Date: 6/22/2006 7:18:46 PM ( 13 y ) ... viewed 9126 times
One of the major challenges of the Master Cleanse is to develop
a new relationship with food and to become aware of how we use
food in our daily lives. We need food to live so it is something
which is readily available and only limited by our resources and
willingness to obtain it.
Most of us at one time or another have turned to food in an effort to
assuage feelings or emotions which consume our lives. The Master
Cleanse offers an opportunity to examine this relationship and to heal
it. It calls for honesty and in many cases, erasing of the self-talk
tapes we play in our minds which give us permission to indulge our
Below is an article which addresses a way to identify food craving
triggers. With practice one can become an expert at identifying when
one is emotionally eating.
by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D.
Some people's food cravings remain constant; for example, they
always crave ice cream. Other people go through "food kicks,"
craving peanut butter one week, blue cheese dressing the next
week, and chocolate bars the following week. Neither situation
is accidental nor coincidental.
If your emotional issues remain unaddressed, your food craving
will remain constant. If your emotional issues change, so will
your food cravings. The only parallel between both the constant
and the changing food cravings is this: There is some underlying
emotional issue crying out for your attention.
By "emotional issues" I don't necessarily mean deep psychological
matters requiring therapy. Food cravings often stem from basic
unmet needs for fun, excitement, or love — issues most would
consider "normal" and within our power to self-heal.
Emotional issues connected to food cravings usually fall into
one of these categories:
~Stress, tension, anxiety, fear, or impatience
~Depression or feeling blue
~Feeling tired, having low energy levels
~Unmet needs for fun, play, excitement, or recreation; too much
work and not enough play
~A desire for love, selection, appreciation, romance, or sexual
~Anger, resentment, bitterness, or frustration
~Emptiness, insecurity, or a desire for comfort
Four emotions form the core of emotional overeating: (fear,
anger, tension, and shame (FATS). Fear is the root emotion in
the FATS feelings. Anger, tension, and shame are all extensions
of fear. We feel angry because we fear losing love in the form of
something or someone valuable to us; we feel tension because we
are afraid of trusting or because we've walked away from our
Divine path; we feel shame because we fear we are inadequate.
These "FATS feelings" are the primary triggers for emotional
overeating. Overwhelming desires to eat stem from one of these
As a psychotherapist, I feel it's important to be honest with
ourselves about our emotions. We need to face the emotion and
then move on. I never recommend overanalyzing one's life or viewing
oneself as a victim. Yet, the source of so much needless emotional
pain is the unwillingness to face an unpleasant feeling. No one
enjoys admitting, "Oh, yes, I feel insecure." But the alternative
— not admitting it — is so much worse!
When we deny our strong emotions, they grow even stronger. As
they gain strength, they also seek outlets. Denied emotions
manifest themselves in many unpleasant ways, including food
cravings, physical aches or illnesses, depression, anxiety,
phobias, and sleep disorders.
The bottom line is this: As unpleasant as it is to face a negative
emotion, the alternative is even more unpleasant. Everyone gets
angry, upset, or jealous at some time — there's no question about
it. Sometimes life circumstances or our personal choices make it
tough to stay centered in peace of mind. In fact, the only question
about these emotions is whether we choose to deal with them now or
THE FOUR PRIMARY EMOTIONS UNDERNEATH EMOTIONAL OVEREATING
Insecurity, walking on eggshells, generalized fears, abandonment
fears, existential fears, control issues, sexua| fears, worry,
anxiety, depression, intimacy fears.
At another person, toward an injustice, toward self, feeling
betrayed, feeling ripped off, feeling abused.
Stress, frustration, old anger turned into bitterness, old
anger turned into resentment, jealousy, impatience, overwork
without an emotional release such as fun.
Self-blame, low self-esteem, self-loathing, lack of trust in
one's own competence or goodness, assuming other people won't
ike you, feeling less than other, feeling like you don't
When we bottle up our strong emotions, it's akin to putting
a cork on a vinegar-and-baking soda combination. The ignored
emotion doesn't go away — it intensifies. The more we try to
ignore a feeling, the stronger it grows. It's so much easier
to face the music while the emotion is still in a "fixable"
That's why I really like food-craving analysis. You start by
identifying the food you crave and work backward, like a detective.
Once you've identified the food you crave, say, rocky road ice
cream, the underlying emotion stares you plainly in the face:
"Resentment toward others and self. Feeling used or pressured,
and desiring fun and comfort. Depression."
The truth of that underlying emotion, following a food-craving
interpretation, hits most of us between the eyes. We instantly
recognize, "Yes, that is the emotional issue I've been struggling
with." This recognition may propel you to investigate further and
take the healthy second step of asking yourself, "What makes me
so frustrated or angry?" "What do I feel I'm missing out on?" and
"Why am I taking my anger out on myself? " Usually the answers
appear right away.
Our denial system is incredibly effective in shielding us from
honestly facing ourselves. Denial stems from a fear of admitting,
"Yes, this bothers me." The consequences of this admission are
even scarier "Now I must take responsibility for making changes
to correct the situation." Change is frightening, because we fear
that our situation might worsen instead of improve.
Inertia and fears keep us from looking at underlying issues that
create food cravings. Since this denial keeps us from seeing
these seemingly obvious underlying issues, we often need to have
them pointed out to us. It's relatively easy to see other people's
issues; it's much tougher to be objective with ourselves. By
learning to interpret your food cravings, you will be able to
more readily discover these issues yourself.
Just honestly admitting to ourselves, "Yes, this is the emotion
underneath my food craving" is such a tremendous relief! It feels
so good to come clean with yourself, doesn't it? That emotional
relief then reduces, or even eliminates, the urge to overeat.
Physically Based Cravings
Sometimes, we'll crave a food because our body is screaming out
for nutrients, such as vitamins or protein. Our body is depleted,
and cravings ensure that its needs are met. These are physically
Yet, on close examination, even these cravings are rooted in
emotions. Tension, the fourth Fats feelings, is the physical
manifestation of stress in our lives. Stress leads to lifestyle
choices that in turn lead to nutritional deprivation. Three of
my clients discovered how stress-filled lifestyles robbed their
body of energy and nutrients, which in turn triggered food cravings:
~Dianna's hectic schedule convinced her that she had "no time to
exercise". Without regular physical activity, Dianna always felt
sluggish and tired. Instead of solving the problem with a brisk
walk or a bike ride, Dianna would eat foods to feel "peppier".
~Marcia's high-pressure job contributed to her overall feeling
of tension and inability to relax. Marcia craved and ate bags
of potato chips and pretzels to gnaw away her anxiety and tension.
Junk foods rob our bodies of B vitamins, because empty calories
require nutrients for digestion. When you use nutrients for
digestion, without replacing them, you become nutrient deficient.
Marcia was continually vitamin deficient and, therefore,
~Brenda used alcohol to calm her nerves. Excessive alcohol
consumption contributes to lowered levels of the brain chemical
serotonin. When serotonin is low, the usual result is carbohydrate
cravings which are exactly what Brenda struggled with. Her appetite
for breads and pasta was out of control, and Brenda was very
unhappy with her weight.
Yes, Dianna, Marcia, and Brenda all suffered from physically
based food cravings. But the root of their nutrient deficiency
was the FATS feeling, tension.
Tension also increases brain chemicals that lead to overeating.
Dr. Sarah Leibowitz of Rockefeller University found that the
hormone cortisol stimulates production of a brain chemical called
"neuropeptide Y". This brain chemical is a chief factor in turning
our carbohydrate cravings on and off. Here's the tension link:
We produce more cortisol when we are tense!
Even worse, Leibowitz also reports that neuropeptide Y also makes
the body hang on to the new body fat we produce (apparently this
is some ancient biological throwback to the cave days). In other
words, tension not only triggers carbohydrate cravings, it also
makes it more difficult to lose any additional weight.
I wish you well on your path to healing your relationship with food.
My main lesson learned by doing the Master Cleanse is that I eat to
live, I do not live to eat. My food choices will not always be perfect,
but I am not striving for perfection. Rather, I seek balance and
control. If I want to eat a banana split, that will be my choice and
I will be comfortable with it. I have no fear of food, however, I
now have a greater awareness of how I use food to numb myself to
feelings I would rather not deal with. I plan to use that awareness
to develop a relationship with food I can live with for the rest
of my life.
be happy, be well,
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