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Managing Your Cravings

A craving is an intense desire for some particular food that is not on your food plan. Food addicts will experience cravings as a symptom of their condition, from time to time. THIS IS NORMAL! It is often related to the stage or quality of your recovery. It is this intense desire to eat your addictive foods that hold you in a kind of trap, then a prisoner. Even when people have good abstinence, they can still occasionally have to deal with cravings.

One of the scariest things about cravings is that they can appear out of nowhere. Things may be going well for you in recovery but the urge to eat a particular food may appear in your mind. Whenever you have a craving, do not ignore it. Treat it immediately!  This could be a sign that something is going on that can hurt your abstinence and recovery. It is also important to realize that just because you have cravings, you don’t have to relapse. Nearly all people in recovery will feel a craving at some time or another. It’s almost normal.

WHEN YOU HAVE A CRAVING DO NOT EAT OVER IT!

PAUSE

Pretend it is a COD package brought by the UPS man. You want to know where it comes from and whether it is really yours, before you pay for it. So, let’s investigate the possibilities:

It could be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. Let’s look at each in turn:

Physical: How have you been eating? Are you eating all your food, and especially all your fats? Are you indulging in two potato chips from your friend’s plate? A teeny tiny taste of ice cream? Restaurant food that may or may not have sugar?

These little “excursions” from your food plan will activate withdrawal symptoms, and one of these symptoms is craving. How about headaches? Irritability? Other withdrawal symptoms? Remember, this is a physical disorder. It’s not willpower, and not your fault.

Mental: What are you saying when you talk to yourself? Are you being negative about your body, behavior or recovery? Would you say the things you are thinking to your boss? Best friend? Child? If not, stop saying them to yourself.

There is a theory named incentive salience that suggests that your addiction has a place in your subconscious mind. Your brain has developed an association between the addictive food and feeling better. Even when people have been abstinent a long time, this subconscious connection may not fade, or may be reactivated under stress. It does not always mean that you are doing anything wrong.

But pay attention to what’s going on in your mind. Are there thoughts you would have eaten over in the past? Are you worrying about something? Is your mind racing? Are you struggling with disturbing thoughts?

Emotional: What are you feeling? Were your feelings hurt by someone today? Or are you remembering hurts from the past? Are today’s feelings bringing up hurts from earlier times?

What exactly are you feeling? Are you fearing that you cannot do this? Is there pressure from other people you want to please?

Spiritual: Have you been avoiding your spiritual program? Struggling with some issue? Angry with your Higher Power? Struggling to believe? Has life just been too busy to maintain your spiritual program?

When you have identified the contents of the UPS man’s package of cravings, you can begin to handle them. Look first at whether the problem belongs to you or is really your responsibility to solve. If it really belongs to someone else, please return it to its rightful owner.

If it is a feeling that is yours, remember that all that we need to do with a feeling is to feel it and hear its message. Then its job is done. It can leave you in peace.

If it is a stronger feeling that involves other people, then get help to handle it. Call someone. Your sponsor, best friend, therapist, accountant, lawyer, mother-in-law. Choose some one who has the ability to really help you with it.

And what else do you need to do?? Do you need more rest? More prayer? Do you need to change your behavior in some way? Do that, or write yourself a letter telling yourself how and what you are going to do.

NEVER NEVER NEVER indulge a craving by eating it!! Then you will be carrying both the problem that needs to be solved AND the guilt and damage caused by the excess food.

Cravings are behaviors that demonstrate the physical nature and the power of the food addiction.  Let them confirm for you that you are on the path to freedom.

Be welcome to share this with others who need it.

Blessings to you,

Theresa

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