Have you ever found yourself opening the kitchen pantry or fridge thinking you will find that something to satiate your needs other than hunger? If you have, let me tell you... you are not alone. And I can assure you there are thousands of people that have had this same event happen to them.
We think that we can eat our feelings and even worse, we sometimes think that if we don’t express our emotions they will soon go away and never come back. But guess what? This is FALSE. In fact, the more we suppress our feelings, the more likely they are to bottle up and explode when we least expect it.
We are human and it is normal for feelings and emotions to arise. It is also normal to express and accept these emotions when they come up. However, for some reason or another we were taught, or we learned through our experiences that if we silence our feelings and don’t pay attention to them, we are strong and we can go on with our day and nothing can stop us. I can honestly say that the strongest and smartest people I know are those who have learned to acknowledge their emotions, process them and then let them go. Easier said than done right?
It definitely is a process. It requires consciousness. It requires for you to start noticing how and why you are feeling the way you are when you are in the pantry looking at what to grab.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Hunger vs cravings are not the same thing. I like to define them as “real hunger” and “emotional craving”. So, how do you tell the difference between being real hunger vs an emotional craving? Real hunger is your belly actually grumbling because it needs food to be nurtured and fulfilled. An emotional craving is something that you are hungry for in your life. It can truly be anything such as: success, creativity, acceptance, freedom, validation, love.
It’s vital that when a craving is showing up that you start to acknowledge them. Embrace and respect them and carefully observe them. This is key since cravings are here to tell you something. It is also very important to start paying attention to what your body is telling you. How are you feeling? Are you really hungry? Or are you experiencing a craving for something that is not food? Cravings are a fantastic way to define how you are feeling and what you really need. These are some of the questions you might ask yourself when cravings start to show up and you are headed to your kitchen pantry or fridge:
Question: “How am I feeling?”
Answer: “I am feeling angry”
Question: “Will food be the answer to my anger?”
Answer: “No. But going out for a walk or taking a yoga class will help me calm down and make me feel so much better”
Yes, it takes practice. For some more than others for sure since we are all different. Getting in touch with your emotions is not an easy task if you have always ignored them or maybe just never paid attention to them. It’s not going to happen overnight but now you know what you need to do. Every time you want to reach out for food because you are having a craving ask yourself: “How do I feel?” If you need help, you might need to close your eyes and connect with your body. What is it telling you? Are you feeling anxious? Overwhelmed? Stressed? Lost? Disappointed? Rejected? Even happy! (Happiness can make you want to eat too.) Excited? Bored? Upset? It might take more to dig deep. It might be painful and uncomfortable, but it is by far one of the best strategies to follow. It is also part of your growth and healing process.
Think of yourself as a science experiment if you would like and if this doesn’t work then you can prove this hypothesis incorrect. During the observation stage of this experiment, get curious about these feelings, connect and listen to your body. Let your body know you are listening and ready to take its word for what it is telling you it feels.
I love to think of this as a game, too. Start reminiscing about your younger years. What did you stop doing that you enjoyed? What hobbies have you left behind that you once loved doing that was just for fun? What makes your soul happy? Is it singing? Fitness classes? Playing tennis? Painting? Swimming? Baking? Sometimes we are in need of activities that will fill us up and that’s all we truly need to stop walking towards food.
“If your life isn’t filling you up – you are far more likely to turn to using food to fill you up instead.” – Mel Wells.
You can get full by doing what you love and leaving food aside for when you are really hungry. Imagine how you would feel if every time you started to notice a craving arise, you did that thing you always enjoyed doing but have not done in such a long time? Would you need that craving after doing it? Maybe it’s a quick 15-minute meditation or dedicating 45 minutes on starting from scratch on a canvas for a new painting you were inspired by. Ask yourself. Would you still have that craving? How would you feel after? Free? Better? Only you will know.
I really hope that what I have shared with you brings you peace. Peace in knowing that you have the tools to figure out what you need so you can stop recurring to food when you are feeling a certain way. You literally cannot eat your feelings. You can suppress them with food only to find out later that you are right at the beginning where you started. My advice? Don’t let later get to you. Get to your feelings first. Stop trying to eat them. It is okay to acknowledge them. It is okay to feel them. You will feel stronger once you get to know, acknowledge and embrace them.
Stay safe and healthy,
You deserve it.