The Emotional Side of Food Cravings and How to Heal Them

Autoimmunity & Healing Diets

Jan 07

Most of us have food cravings to some extent or another. While some are not bothered by them, others are ruled by them. There are many approaches to healing from food cravings – the most effective have to address not only the physiology, but also the emotional.

Food Cravings are Indications of What We Need

It is clear that food cravings influence appetite control and can be a risk factor for poor weight management.

Food cravings are not only a physiological response to what is going on nutritionally and hormonally, they are also symptoms of deeper unresolved emotional issues that need to be addressed. When there are cravings, there are emotions, memories and beliefs that need to be investigated. Any weight management program that does not examine these issues will be lacking.

Food cravings are triggered by the typical stresses of life and can pose an obstacle to weight loss and can easily derail you from your attempts to eat healthier.

Past studies have indicated that cravings can be a form of self medicating behavior due to the neurological effects certain foods can have on mood. We know that incomplete digestion of gluten can lead to opiate-like peptides called gluteomorphines which can cross the blood/brain barrier and disrupt brain function.

Similarly, incomplete digestion of milk protein (casein) can create peptides of caseomorphines in the brain. These opiate peptides affect the area of the brain called the temporal lobes, which are involved in mood, memory, speech and auditory integration.

Clearly, the neurological effects of certain foods – foods commonly craved, such as wheat and dairy – are intricately related to the emotional affects of mood and memory.

Healing the cravings can help you get off the diet roller coaster and resolve the underlying emotional issues. This study published in the American Psychologist, found that dieting is actually a good predictor of weight gain. You need to get off the diet roller coaster and confront the emotional side of the issue.

We Crave Foods for Specific Reasons

When there is fear, uncertainly or other emotional upset we crave specific foods to fill a need. The following unique foods may suggest what the issue may be for you. While there is no hard science behind it, there have been anecdotal reports from clinicians. Let me know if it rings true for you.

  • We crave sugar when our lives lack sweetness or joy
  • We crave bread when our lives are empty or unfulfilled
  • We crave chips and crunchy foods when there is frustration and/or anxiety
  • We crave chocolate when we are lacking romance and/or love
  • We crave dairy when we are lacking nurturing and connection

On the other hand…

We can also crave these specific foods in an attempt to feel the corresponding emotions. So when we want to feel that our lives are full, we crave bread or when we want to feel love we crave chocolate.

Interesting huh? Do you think this applies to you? Do you think you have these distinct cravings?

Your Body Tells You What It Needs

The specific food is a clue as to what is going on. By exploring cravings, the emotional issues and needs are revealed and then can be healed. You must identify why you are craving that particular food.

Rather than fell guilty and ashamed when indulging in food cravings you can change your direction by seeing this as an opportunity to learn and grow from it.

In this free e-book, called Archetypes of Food Cravings you can figure out for yourself why you have these particular cravings. It asks specific questions to investigate the craving patterns and triggers and what causes us to have this detrimental behavior.

You Can Heal Food Cravings

The first step to healing is having an awareness of the actions and the triggers that cause the behavior. It’s not about willpower. It’s about understanding where the cravings are coming from and confronting the emotional side.

You need to recognize, acknowledge and address the thoughts, emotions and beliefs that propel you towards the foods you crave.

You need to understand that cravings are symptoms and to truly heal them is to heal the cause, which is usually the dysfunctional emotions, beliefs and memories you have around your relationship with food.

You need to understand that exploring the cravings can expose the issues and will lead you to the next step.

The next step is to heal the thoughts and emotions that trigger the cravings and to have a tool to accomplish that. The tool is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT Tapping).

This is a simple self-administered acupressure technique that involves making a statement while tapping on specific acupuncture points.

EFT has been a powerful tool used to clear negative emotions that has been recommended by many alternative clinicians.

A recent randomized clinical trial tested whether The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) could reduce food cravings in participants under laboratory-controlled conditions. The researchers concluded,

EFT was associated with a significantly greater improvement in food cravings, the subjective power of food and craving restraint than waitlist from pre- to immediately post-test. At 6-months, an improvement in food cravings and the subjective power of food after treatment was maintained and a delayed effect was seen for restraint. At 12-months an improvement in food cravings and the subjective power of food after treatment was maintained, and a significant reduction in Body Mass Index (BMI) occurred from pre- to 12-months (source).

This study by Peta Stapleton in 2012 used EFT Tapping for food cravings. She found that tapping 15 minutes a day (2 hours a week) caused 89% of the group to lose their food cravings.

For simple instructions on basic tapping click here.

Have you ever used the Emotional Freedom Technique? If you have, leave a comment and share how it worked for you!

Source: Interview with Tessa Cason and Faith Shevlin at the Unconventional Weight Loss Convention


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