I just finished reading the book Constant Craving by Doreen Virtue. It’s a fairly easy read about the root of our excessive food cravings.
Doreen Virtue is an eating disorders therapist (among many other things) so her book is largely based on her personal experience with clients. She backs up many of her theories with scientific data – which is always helpful for the skeptic :)
There is a difference between emotional hunger and real hunger. There are a number of ways to tell the difference – one way is emotional hunger is sudden. One minute you are not thinking about food and suddenly you need to eat something. NOW. Real hunger is gradual, gives you signs of rumbling and growling over time. this book and blog is mostly about emotional hunger which can easily lead to overeating.
It amazed me how clearly she identifies the reason we crave certain foods. Over her years of practice and study, she has found common trends in why we crave the foods we crave. Through understanding our strong cravings, we are able to reach further than the cookie jar to sooth our deeper needs.
Chocolate Cravings - Hungry for Love
Chocolate is the #1 craved food, especially for women. It signifies a desire for emotional intimacy, romance and love. Chocolate also triggers the feel good hormone, serotonin. We eat it when we want a pick-me-up and to feel better.
So chocoholics, if you want chocolate to have less of a leash on you, know that you are loved, you are lovable and you are more than worthy of love! Love yourself and chocolate will love you less.
Dairy Cravings - The Antidepressant Foods
Dairy products contain mood altering properties such as choline (soothing), L-tryptophan (calming), sugar (temporarily energizing) and the added touch of creamy texture (comforting).
Cheese and ice cream are usually the go-to’s in this category. If you can’t go a day without there are some actions you can do/take to help relieve this. Know that you are safe and secure, give yourself permission to relax and let your guard down. Let your true self shine through.
Salty Snack Foods - Stress, Anger and Anxiety
These foods have a crunch to them. This allows us to take out frustration, tension and anger on every bite. They are also salty which give our taste buds a ton of attention.
If you binge on chips or salty pretzels look at the level of stress, anger and anxiety in your life. Once these start to relive themselves you will notice less of a need to eat. Let yourself feel the tension in your body and rather than avoiding anger – feel it. Take deep breaths to soften anxiety.
Spicy Foods - The Drive for Excitement
People who love Mexican, Thai, or Spicy Chinese food, love the thrill of a spicy life. They crave excitement and high intensity work. These guys have big personalities and are the sensation seekers. They work hard and play hard.
Excessive spice cravers may feel like they are selling themselves short. They may be engaged in activities that are uninspiring or meaningless. They can support themselves through activities that excite them and make them feel enthusiastic. Reminding themselves that they are fulfilling all that their dreams right now and that there is abundant and unlimited resources to do that may relieve them of these cravings
Nuts & Peanut Butter - Cravings for Fun
Relaxation and pleasure can be hard to find in a stressed out world. It is a human need to have fun and to play. This is what we used to do as kids, all day, every day. Ahh those were the days…. Craving nut and nut butters can be a signal to have more fun. Crunchy nuts or nut butters can signal comforting your frustration with life.
Fun is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Find ways to play! Even if its doing 5 jumping jacks just for the heck of it right now. Enjoy your life, the more fun you bring in, the less youll reach for the peanut, peanut butter...and jelly!
Breads & Pasta - Comforting and Calming
This one gets me every time. Walking past a bakery brings me back home to Saturday evenings when mom’s freshly baked bread would come out of the oven. My mouth waters and my heart softens just thinking of it. We would eat it when it had cooled down just enough that the butter would still melt as I spread it and it would mix so magically with honey into the most comforting, delicious, thing that ever touched my lips…
Yeah, baked goods and pasta are a comfort food. Excessive craving for this may mean you may want to look into seeking nonfood means of comfort. Pets are really good at loving you and close, warm relationships with friends or family are invaluable in this department.
Cookies, Cakes, Pies - Craving Hugs
This one is similar to its cousin above seeking comfort and reassurance - but the sweet flavors add to it by acting as an edible hug. These can also signal resistance to doing something – procrastination. Many children were rewarded with sweets, “if you eat your carrots you can have a cookie” As we grew up, our minds may have programmed itself to like cookies more than carrots as there was a higher value added to it.
People who struggle with self esteem are especially prone to cookie cravings. To help heal this, step away from negativity, both inside your head and around you, take better care of your body, reward yourself with nonfood treats.