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Tag cravings

Cravings : When the Mind is Hungry

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The title of this article does not refer to craving intellectual pursuits, but to that intense desire to keep eating a specific food after our hunger pangs have been satisfied.

There’s a real distinction – cravings are not the same as hunger:

  • Hunger is regulated by the body, while cravings are dictated by the mind.
  • Hunger is usually a general need for food while cravings can be for very specific foods
  • Hunger is about surviving physically. Cravings are often about surviving emotionally

Seen in this light, cravings are not the actual problem,
they are merely symptoms of underlying issues.

Some of these could be:

Association
This is when we link certain foods with certain activities. For example, you could be perfectly happy reading a book for hours on end but as soon as you turn on the television your mind goes to the kitchen. Or as soon as you come home from work you reach for a glass of wine. As soon as you have the kids in bed you feel the need for cake. Etc.

Procrastination
Write this report, or get a snack?
Do the laundry? Hmmm I feel hungry, I’ll just have a bag of chips first.

Boredom
This is a popular time for cravings to surface. God forbid we have to sit with ourselves for a few minutes.

Emotional States – Comfort/Distraction
Food often gives us comfort, and when we experience intense negative feelings, we can reach for food to feel soothed. This is especially true if, as children, we were given food to calm and quiet us by well meaning caregivers.
Loneliness, Anger, Sadness, Guilt, Depression, etc., these are all states that can feel very uncomfortable. Not many of us have been taught to sit with discomfort and see ourselves through, so food becomes an instant comforter. As well as a distraction from the discomfort.

Physical States
Certain foods, like sugar, can trigger an increase in our endorphin levels, serving to boost our moods and make us feel happier. So though sugary foods may result in instant happiness, it is short lived, and fails to address the real cause of the negative feeling that we are experiencing.

Then the guilt/criticism etc. that we may feel as a result of having eaten the desired food ends up making us feel worse in the long run.

The reasons why we intensely crave certain foods at certain times are different for everyone.

What’s your reason? Here’s one way to find out:

The next time your mind prompts you to reach for the food you crave, do this : just pause. Go ahead and eat it, but just pause for a few moments before you reach for it.

In that pause, ask yourself what you’re feeling. Become aware of the reason behind the craving in that particular moment.

You may be surprised to discover every time you stop to do this that the reasons are not always the same! One time it may be sheer boredom, another time may be anxiety, and the next time you may be trying to avoid feeling sad.

See for yourself. What’s under your craving?
That’s the issue that needs addressing, should you wish to do so.


Notes on Willpower

If cravings come upon us in times of stress, when we are not feeling our best, when we are tired, how on earth are we going to summon reserves of willpower to stave off eating the very foods we think are going to bring us comfort in those times?
How sustainable is it?
How guilty/bad/ashamed/weak/etc. do we feel if we “give in”?

A study conducted by Hertfordshire University (2007) found that women who tried to stop thinking about eating chocolate ended up eating 50% more than those who actually talked about their cravings*


Trying to cut out all thoughts of your favourite, fattening food may actually make you eat more!

* Source : BBC News

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More About EFT

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What is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)?

EFT operates on the premise that no matter what part of your life needs to change for the better, there are unresolved emotional issues in the way. Even for physical issues, chronic pain, or medical conditions, research shows that emotional stress can impede the natural healing potential of the human body.

EFT is a mind-body technique that is safe, gentle, and non-invasive. It combines a gentle touch with conscious attention while we verbalise our thoughts and feelings. We tap with our fingertips on acupressure points on the hands, face and body while focusing on an issue we wish to resolve.

EFT combines the physical benefits of acupuncture with the cognitive and linguistic benefits of conventional talk therapy. This somatic-cognitive approach addresses the individual as a whole, providing a greater scope to heal, recover and to make positive changes in our lives.

EFT allows us to release and transform uncomfortable feelings like anger, hurt, guilt, fear or grief which may be affecting our daily lives. Using this technique helps to become aware of the negative thoughts and beliefs behind our emotional experiences, so we can change them to more helpful ones.

This powerful technique is often referred to as a psychological version of acupuncture, without the needles. The simple process of tapping on acupressure points on the body while bringing attention to the issue we want to resolve has the effect of changing the intensity of the uncomfortable emotions.

EFT helps with emotional as well as physical pain. Unresolved negative experiences reside as triggers and disruptions in our mind and body. The physical symptoms we feel from those disruptions (for example, tightening of chest, clenched stomach, heart racing, etc), become attached to the memory of that experience and affect the way we see the world, until we clear that disruption. Properly applied, EFT balances our autonomic nervous system and realigns our neural pathways; this disconnects the physical discomfort that we attach to negative feelings and memories, which often helps to remove the original symptoms.

The EFT premise is based on the view that the more unresolved emotional issues you can clear, the more equanimity and emotional freedom you will have in your life.

EFT has yielded remarkable results for relieving emotional and physical distress, and often works when nothing else will. Since it does not involve drugs or other medical interventions, it is different from conventional medical approaches, and is beginning to gain wider and wider recognition within the mainstream medical community.


Watch a video introduction to EFT here (by Gary Craig, founder of EFT):


Watch Professor Tony Stewart, a specialist in public health, talking about EFT on BBC News:


EFT has proven effective with a wide range of both physical and emotional issues. EFT Can Help to:

Relieve stress
Diminish anxiety and anxious fears and feelings
Release and transform painful, uncomfortable feelings like anger, guilt, grief, fear, etc.
Heal the effects of emotional trauma, including PTSD symptoms
Diminish cravings for foods and addictive substances
Resolve emotional eating and weight issues
Address relationship problems
Gain clarity to make decisions
Relieve symptoms of insomnia
Increase self-esteem, self-empowerment and confidence
Improve or even eliminate chronic physical discomfort or pain
Enhance performance in any area; sports, musical, artistic, professional, sexual, etc.
Resolve financial blocks
Increase energy and productivity
Empower children, parents and families
Benefit the lives of animals
Move us beyond negative, self-limiting thoughts and beliefs toward positive change

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

EFT: News, Science and Research

  • PTSD Treated Successfully in 10 Sessions or Less: Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest hospital systems in the US, taking care of more than 10 million patients each year. Kaiser’s peer-reviewed publication, The Permanente Journal, recently published practice guidelines for using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) with patients diagnosed with PTSD (Church, Stern et al., 2017).
  • Read about Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the catcher for the Boston Red Sox, who used tapping (as EFT is sometimes called) to up his game.
  • Beverley Turner, writing for The Telegraph, relates her experience of attending an EFT course. She calls it Tapping therapy: curing physical and mental problems
  • Larry Burk, M.D., writes about EFT going mainstream, like how the APA has finally granted continuing education credits for psychologists to study EFT tapping, also known as energy psychology.
  • Nick Ortner, writing for the Huffington Post, talks about the science behind EFT in his article, Breakthroughs in Energy Psychology, citing research which confirms that tapping on specific meridian points has a positive effect on cortisol levels.
  • David Feinstein in the Psychotherapy Networker about how EFT (Tapping) can cure PTSD and more.

Frequently asked Questions

Is EFT only an energy based technique?
No.
It is a combination of acupressure, talk therapy and modern psycho-therapeutic tools like NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and EMDR (Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). The affirmations used in EFT are derived from NLP, and the 9 gamut procedure is similar to the process used in EMDR.
EFT also includes statements on self-acceptance – in therapy, the way we talk to ourselves is one of the most important tools in changing thought and behaviour patterns.

Is EFT safe?
Yes.
It is completely safe and there are no known negative side effects.

Is EFT a distraction technique?
No.
Distraction is “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else”. EFT requires a complete focus on the problem or issue throughout the session. Affirmations and reminder phrases are also used to keep a focus on the specific issue.

Why do we affirm the negatives in EFT?
Sometimes people are resistant to focusing on the negative while tapping. Either for fear of feeling the feeling, or fearing this will attract more negativity, or some other similar reason.
But one is already feeling these feelings. By identifying then vocalising them, one is bringing up that energy in the body and clearing the negative feelings, instead of suppressing them and having them subconsciously run one’s life. Expressing the negative statements serves to clear them energetically from the body-mind system.

Once you let go and clear, then you have room to bring in what you choose to feel instead. EFT brings one’s energy back to balance so negative feelings don’t stay there.