At a Raw Foods Class, we talked about cravings. Often times we look to food to cover up or mask an emotion. We’ve all heard of emotional eating, but are we conscious of doing it? Here is a way to find out. When you are about to grab a snack, ask yourself the following question, “am I hungry?” Perhaps you realize that you had a big lunch and really shouldn’t be hungry. If this is the case, ask yourself these other questions one by one: And am I tired? Am I angry? Am I lonely?
The concepts in The Power of Focusing, by Ann Weiser Cornell, PH.D., would explain that our emotions are there to give us vital information for our well being. Instead of masking the underlying emotion with food or something else, we can listen to our body, get clarity and release it.
Our body has messages for us and if we ignore the messages, it starts to scream louder. Too often, disease may result if we ignore it long enough. Our body wants us to acknowledge and listen to the messages. Sometimes that is all it wants.
Here is my interpretation of how to determine the emotion causing the craving and how to clear it. Before starting, try to be grounded and present for this exercise. You may want to close your eyes, sit in stillness, and start to observe sensations in your body:
1. You can ask your body a question such as “am I angry,” or you may simply ask your body why you are craving food. You may then feel a sensation. For example, you may feel a lump in your throat, a pit in your stomach or heaviness in your heart. Even if you do not know what emotion is at play here, it’s okay.
2. Sit with this sensation and try to describe how the emotion feels in your body. Allow yourself to really feel the emotion and be there for it, support it. Give this feeling your gratitude for communicating to you.
3. You may find yourself going back to a past memory, even childhood, where a similar feeling came up and an event associated with it. A lot of answers can rise to the surface from sitting with and supporting the feeling. Our cells have memory. Be appreciative of the messages and thank the body.
4. You may sense the feeling slowly dissipate. This often happens when we acknowledge it. When the feeling releases it may allow you to resume your day with greater clarity and peace in your heart. And guess what? The craving is gone. You dealt with the emotion instead of masking it.
Keep in mind that if your body is not accustomed to you listening to it, it may take awhile for your body to trust you are there for it. You may need to do a lot of acknowledging before it will give more information and release the emotion. Don’t get discouraged. Just start to support the feelings instead of wanting to get rid of them.
If we can stop masking our emotions and be conscious with how we are feeling, we can avoid a lot of emotional eating, and clear some old baggage along with it. Next time you go to grab a snack or binge on some cookies, stop for a moment and ask yourself these questions: am I hungry, am I angry, am I lonely, am I tired. And if you’re hungry, well, dig in. Your conscious state will help you make healthier choices and avoid over eating.
Note: This example used cravings and overeating as an example. You can use the tool with many situations such as: handling overwhelming emotions, addiction, procrastination, self-criticism, or trouble making decisions. Give it a try. Start appreciating your body and listening to its messages for you.