Mindfulness and Food: Why it’s important to tune in to your cravings

Food. It’s everywhere. We need it to live, and yet many people eat for many other reasons than physical nourishment. Are you aware of why you eat? And is it more than just physical hunger that fuels your appetite levels?

Photo by Amber Romaniuk

Photo by Amber Romaniuk

The relationship you share with food can be profound and very powerful. It can also be very self-destructive and sabotaging. I know all about it. After struggling with a food addiction primarily to sugar for most of my life especially deeply into my early twenties, I can tell you I hated food, feared food, loved food, loathed it and obsessed about it 24/7. Food ruled my life, as I see it rule many others that I work with.

Food doesn’t have to rule your life. Food is meant to be a nourishing experience. Food has the ability to support balancing your body, and give you energy and life to fuel your day. But when you don’t know why you have debilitating cravings you need to give into, and you are eating for every reason but physical nourishment, it can feel very overwhelming.

This overwhelming experience with food can and usually does impact every area of life – primarily the relationship you have with yourself causing you to constantly fight with diets and the dreaded scale. You may feel you can’t achieve your goals, date or live your life to the fullest because you don’t feel you have a healthy relationship with food or yourself. This can gravely impact relationships, careers, business opportunities, abundance, health, and a rollercoaster of emotions across every life facet.

The empowering thing is, that when you start to understand WHY you want to eat,  you get to take your power back.

Did you know that your mindset and habits really dictate the relationship you have with food? And that they can also fuel your cravings for certain foods?

I often see people crave sweets because they are missing sweetness in life, or they need comfort because they are sad. I see people craving salt because their stress is high and they are exhausted. Crunchy foods can mean lots of anger or frustration and creamy, carb-rich foods like pastas, heavy sauces and ice cream can indicate a need for support.

Does any of this resonate with you? There are many other reasons for cravings, and I see cravings be a big trigger for why we are eating. So if you do have a craving, ask yourself:

1. What am I craving?

2. Why do I want this food?

3. Is it going to solve the current stressor or struggle I feel I am having?

Reflect upon these questions before you give in, because most often a lot of cravings come from a deeper rooted emotional place. I used to have debilitating sugar cravings that would make me obsess about what I was going to binge on all day. I’d speed to the store to get my fix. It only temporarily satisfied the void.

It was learning self-love and learning why I wanted to eat that really gave me my power.

Stress, negativity, anxiety, over-booked schedules, negative interactions with others, bad days, sadness, traumas, insecurity and many other health symptoms and emotions can trigger cravings and the need to want to emotionally eat. Happiness, celebration, boredom and social situations can also trigger hunger as well.

You may be wondering what does this have to do with community, connection, collaboration?

 It has A LOT to do with it.

When people are struggling to have a balanced relationship with food, community, connection and collaboration are usually put to the side for fear of being judged, not good enough, too big, not pretty enough, and the list goes on. When I struggled with my relationship with food, isolation, sadness and loneliness took over my ability to be social, feel connected and collaborate with others because I didn’t feel good enough and I feared being judged. 

If you can relate to this you probably agree it has a deep influence on different areas of your life, and having more awareness to navigate food and your cravings would be so empowering. You CAN learn how to be mindful with food and understand what triggers you to want to eat. As you learn this, you can take action steps to choose to use things like self-care and healthy coping tools to deal with stressors.

Here are five tips to take action with when it comes to identifying why you want to eat:

1. Recognize your craving or want to eat come up and ask yourself if you actually need to eat.

2. Tune into your body and recognize if you have any of the normal hunger cues like a rumbling stomach or increased appetite levels.

3. If you are actually hungry, eat mindfully and slowly to satisfy your hunger.

4. If you are recognizing you just ate and there is emotional hunger fueling you then ask what is triggering this?

5. Once you identify what’s actually fueling your hunger, use relaxing, self-care techniques like breathing, meditation, time outdoors, a conversation with a friend, yoga or some quiet time to relax and shift your mood.

When you start to understand WHY you want to eat, you gain your power back. In fact, you build confidence and balance with food and your health. This has a profoundly positive impact on every area of your life. Your health improves, you have more energy, you feel at peace with your body, you want to be more social and you believe in your own abilities to achieve any goal. Whether that be in your business, personal life, love life or whatever it is that you want to call in.

Emotions and mindsets are powerful, and they can fuel our food habits. So the next time you go to reach for something, first stop and ask….is this what I really need to deal with what is going on in my head?

Want to learn more about Emotional Eating and how your emotions can dictate your relationship with food be sure to check out Episode 121 of The No Sugarcoating Podcast at www.amberapproved.ca/podcast/121