Cravings and Emotional Eating

It’s amazing what a little awareness can do. As a consequence of paying attention to what I eat and why, I feel empowered. I never fully realized the impact emotional eating has on my choices.

For example, on day two I had a ferocious craving. Not just for something sweet, or fatty, or baked, but for a specific item. And I couldn’t let it go. For hours I was consumed. I wanted Mrs. Baird’s little bitty cinnamon donuts and a glass of milk. And nothing else would satisfy me. Although I felt this passion for a milk, sugar, fat, flour combo for a few hours, it was by paying attention that I found relief.

As the compulsion grew, I thought well maybe I’m hungry? I’ll eat some fruit. But I didn’t want fruit. I really didn’t want anything, because I wasn’t actually hungry. If I had eaten the sugary mess I would have felt an instant of comfort, but it would be short-lived–because I wasn’t really hungry. How many times do we eat out of habit or craving when our body is not truly hungry? I know I’ve done it all my life.

Food has always been a reward, a friend, a way to show love. I am a compulsive cooker and love nothing more than to feed other people. But what I want to feed them are comfort foods: mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade sourdough bread… Not once have I thought, oh, the kids are coming over for dinner. I’ll make them a smoothie! In my mind, previously, healthy foods weren’t nourishing, comforting and ways to show affection. However, I do have to note that we can be conditioned because my grandkids LOVE my smoothies.

Still, it was a powerful moment when I realized that I wanted the donuts not because I was hungry, but probably because my body was going through withdrawal from all those substances–sugar, white flour, fat, dairy. It makes sense. So from this awareness I convinced myself that it would get better. Because I do know the feeling of craving a fresh piece of watermelon, or a grilled veggie kabob. I’ve felt that, as well, and know that once I get past the sugar cravings I will crave natural, wholesome, foods, as well.

I’ve also found that when I want something comforting, a savory dish will feed the craving. Last night I made turkey meatballs simmered in fresh tomatoes, onions and green peppers, plus herbs from my garden, and served it with broccoli. Eating the rich, savory (but low-fat) sauce, was completely satisfying.

Yesterday I didn’t have a single craving. And this morning, a friend told me she had a chocolate croissant recently. Instead of thinking, yum, I thought that sounds disgusting! So, maybe there is hope for me yet.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for differentiating hunger from craving and emotional eating. Thank you to all who have posted comments on my Facebook page. If we’re not friends already, please join me. I’m eager to hear from you!

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