Ever have a craving that stops you dead in your tracks? What do you do? White knuckle your way through and try to wait it out? Give in or is there another alternative?
Did you know that there's a DIY method of relaxing yourself called Emotional Freedom Techniques also known as tapping? There is. EFT works by tapping gently on different parts of your face and hands which triggers a chemical change in your brain that takes the edge off of your stress and puts you back in balance, feeling good again.
There is science to prove that our emotions affect our body. I can not take credit for Emotional Freedom Technique because I did not create it. However being able to apply it consistently whenever I am faced with the challenge of confronting my own negative emotions, has transformed my life and that of my clients.
It's well known that people who struggle with weight issues have challenges around dealing with conflict and boundaries. I know for a fact that by using the tapping to question limiting beliefs, it creates possibilities and transformation that wasn't available before this powerful tool became more widespread.
Although this technique has been around since the late 80's, and millions of people have benefitted from it, and it's being used more regularly, it's only just begun to reach the mainstream.
Perhaps you've seen it demonstrated by Gabrielle Bernstein on Oprah's Help Desk recently? Talking about emotions in connection with physical issues may seem off, but it's actually right on cue.
The way it works is that your emotions are chemicals in your body. And when they don't get expressed, they become stuck and that leaves you caught up in a loop of feeling that same emotion, over and over again. If it's anger that you didn't get a chance to express, then your thoughts will consistently turn towards finding reasons why you should be angry. If you have an unexpressed sadness, or are grieving a loss, the same will happen with finding yourself feeling that emptiness and sadness repeatedly whenever you're reminded of that person or situation that caused you to grieve the loss.
In order to take back your power from food and not give into your every food craving, you must deal with the emotions that make you feel like you've got to eat when you're not hungry.
Because if you don't feel safe around food, you will always feel pulled to eat what you don't think you can have.
Following this post, you can listen to a real time recording that I made dealing with a craving that hit me about a year ago. I had no idea what was really behind my desire to eat those
Explore Your Cravings: Emotions Lie Beneath Them
Did you know that your cravings are actually unmet emotional needs in disguise and when you recognize them and feel those feelings, the craving often disappears? Let me tell you a story of something that happened to me a few years ago.
I decided to review the audio of the previous night’s episode of my Blogtalkradio show, “Lovin’ the Skin You’re In,” After listening to it, I got hit with a craving for one of my favorite candies. You probably know them. They're those bite-sized milk chocolate covered caramel bits called Milk Duds® The craving knocked me right off my feet. I remembered that I just bought a box of Duds yesterday and they were on a shelf in my kitchen cabinet.
Why Having My Favorite Foods Around is So Important to Me
Now let me be clear. For the most part, I don’t diet and I’m not counting calories. Instead I consistently cope with whatever worries, fears, and anxiety I am facing by using the stress relief methods I teach and share with my clients.
Taking this combination approach of having an open door policy with food and managing my stress has worked beautifully to reduce the duration, intensity and frequency of binges. I have used this method successfully and credit it with my ability to release 28 extra pounds over the past year and to boot, I have been able to change my eating preferences enough that my A1C reading of 5.1 shows that I am no longer Prediabetic.
When I’m handling my upsets in this proactive way, I live very peacefully and happily surrounded by the foods I love. Since I have made a conscious choice to change my eating, I still have many of my favorite foods but they're no longer littering the counter or 'in my face.' I have the comfort of knowing that they are nearby but just far enough that it requires some thought to decide to go eat them.
I learned this strategy from my friend and nutritionist, Susan L. Holmberg. It's called a pattern interrupt. Her big crave is peanut butter. She's told me that back in the day she would easily eat an entire jar of peanut butter. One day she decided to move her peanut butter to a place where she had to work to get it. She decided to put it up in her attic. That required her to go get a ladder and then climb into the attic where she would find her peanut butter.
There's just something about having the food in your home and knowing it's there gives you a huge sense of comfort so that you won't be driven to overeat because you feel deprived. It makes you not want to eat it all the time, especially if you keep a steady stream of good quality food options available when you have those grab and go moments, like when you're starving and exhausted and haven't eaten for hours. If the only thing you see in front of you is a box of candy or a cake, your body's hunger combined with your sense of deprivation will lead you straight to overeating that food. That's why I keep my goodies like Milk Duds either out of sight in my kitchen pantry or in a freezer that's in a room downstairs. You would be surprised how unappealing it can be to have to walk a distance or do any work to get the food you are craving.
Before you know it, you've forgotten all about the food and when you taste it, it's stale and you end up throwing it away. Sure that's technically wasteful, but how fabulous does that feel to have the sense of pride that you are in control of the food and the food doesn't control you.
But on occasion I fall back into my old habits of using food for comfort and my tendency to overeat pops back up.
Overeating from a Gentle Perspective
Unlike years ago, I no longer find any benefit in beating up on myself labeling overeating my weakness or thinking of my binge events as a loss of anything. Now I know that when I overeat, it’s my body’s way of telling me that I need something that’s missing. Two things I know right off the bat are we tend to crave sugar and treats when we haven't had enough sleep and when our thoughts are filled with anxiety. I always teach my clients the value of having a ritual that helps them to slow down in this very fast paced world. I like meditating, some of my clients favor prayer, sitting each morning in silence with a cup of tea, and some like yoga. No matter what method you choose to slow down and listen to your own inner wisdom, it can give you a huge sense of grounding and relief when life knocks the wind out of you.
Binge Eating is Your Body’s Way of Crying Out for Help
In her book, “Binge Eating: How to Stop It Forever, author Gloria Arenson, says, Binge eating is not so much a problem as it is a statement about unresolved issues in a person’s life. She urges compulsive eaters to stop trying to use will power to control food intake and instead learn to recognize the inner stresses that bring on binges. If we deal with them, the urge to eat compulsively takes care of itself.”
You can use EFT (the stress relief technique that I demonstrate in the audio at the end of this post) to overcome your cravings. I rarely do it, for myself, but whenever I do presentations for groups, I always bring lots of chocolate and chips and I lead them through the process showing them how to use EFT to deal with their cravings.
In the audio that you can listen to below, I decided on the fly to start tapping as soon as my craving for Milk Duds hit out of the blue.
To give you an image: When I started the tapping I was actually running down the stairs from my office in the house to the kitchen and I was bent on eating all the Milk Duds®. Click the link below if you want to listen to my recording of what happened next.
My Milk Dud Madness Demystified