What Your Cravings Are Really Telling You

Food as Symbolic Substitutes

Our issues around food often have nothing to do with food. The “issue” is usually the body’s most efficient solution to the actual problem. This concept is rooted in the body’s amazing ability to maintain homeostasis: a state of dynamic normal where health occurs. When we are outside of homeostasis, disease occurs.

As is the case with physical homeostasis like body temperature or blood pH, the body also seeks to maintain emotional homeostasis. Collectively, we resist venturing outside the bounds of moderate emotions. Big emotions (both positive and negative) are uncomfortable; we find dis-ease. The awesome thing about food is that it can temporarily impact emotional homeostatic regulation by creating physiological changes in the body.

Common Food Cravings

Perhaps you can relate to some of these examples:

  • Overwhelm: You come home from a long day or week of work and all you want is alcohol, which takes the edge off and facilitates numbness.
  • Anxiety: You can’t seem to get out of your head. You feel as if you’re floating off the ground. You eat either a lot of food or heavy, starchy foods as it physically grounds you and brings you back to Earth.
  • Fatigue: All you want to do is sleep but you have 5 more hours of work. You reach for sugar, caffeine, or both for that much-needed stimulation.

In each of these cases, food is simply the body’s immediate answer to the actual problem. If we pause and create space for our true needs, we will find freedom from the temporary solution of food. Sometimes, there is still a need for food after these activities but you are serving this need in a more comprehensive manner:

  • Overwhelm: This looks like sitting with the breath and giving yourself permission to feel as overwhelmed as you feel. This can allow much needed solitude, time to cry and breathe, and naturally down regulating a frazzled Autonomic Nervous System.
  • Anxiety: Write down your worries and fears. Then take off your shoes, walk outside, and find your feet rooted in the Earth.
  • Fatigue: Honor this natural dip by taking a quick nap, connecting to the breath, then doing some inversions or going for a walk.

Because food is so intricately tied to emotional homeostasis, there are infinite meanings and manifestations of these symbolic substitutes. We must have the awareness to pause and the curiosity to ask, “What do I truly need in this moment?” The answer may surprise you!

Love and light,

Melissa Hemphill

BIRTHFIT Coach Seminar Director

@birthfitcoach coach@birthfit.com


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