Food is love. When a newborn makes his first voluntary decision, it is to eat. Whether he is nursing from mom, or being snuggled into a parent with a warm bottle. The connection is made. Sweet sustenance. Intimate connection. Slurpy satisfaction. Safety and protection. Thus the relationship with food and love begins. The fortunate baby is nurtured in many ways. Food is one. Cuddling, rocking, being sung to and engaged are others. When baby sounds the alarm by crying, the parent knows he is either, hungry, wet, gassy or tired. As hard as it may be to decipher the cry and remove the cause, it seems to get only more difficult as baby becomes an adult.
As an adult, when hungry, by all means eat. Sit. Feel gratitude for the food that grew for you. Appreciate its colors, textures and aromas. Eat with presence. Chew. Take your time and allow the food to settle. Be conscious of your body as you eat and when you reach for more. Eating when hungry is the easy part!
What about eating when our body is not signaling hunger? A baby cries aloud for an unmet need, yet our cry is often silent. But our need is just as real. Food may be what we reach for yet our craving is for something else. Answer these questions:
What do you really want the moment before you grab a satisfying food?
Do you crave intimate connection, love, nurturing?
Do you want to feel cared for, bonded to another, protected from worry and harm?
In the case of eating when not hungry food will fill your belly, but it misses the mark. Let’s identify the steps that can be taken before you indulge in food when you are not hungry.
1. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now?” For example, I am lonely, I am bored, I am stuck on a problem, I want to be “unconscious.” (More on that later).
2. “What steps can I take to meet this need, before I eat these cookies or chips?” Have a journal handy and write your feelings. Call a buddy. Do 20 jumping jacks!
3. “If I eat this now, how will I feel afterward? Will I be able to stop eating after just 1 or 2?” Sometimes, we are motivated to eat for emotional reasons, just to get to the place where we will be when we are done. If you will become self-punishing when finished, overeating gave you permission to do so. What if you had permission to face your “shadow” now without food in the equation? What would you have to say to that part of yourself that you do not admire?
It takes presence to ask yourself these questions, and it requires an absent minded state to indulge your craving. There is a very big gap to get from one place to the next. This is when a tool can be very helpful. Especially one as simple as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). EFT uses the tips of your fingers to tap on certain special energy points on your body. It can be used in an instant to create a shift from craving to awareness. Once the craving has passed, EFT can help the emotion that caused the craving to pass on through.
The key to EFT or any other tool is to have the presence to use it. Sometimes, cravings are so powerful and our need is to be “unconscious.” By unconscious I mean, without responsibility and maturity. Indulging a craving is like a moment of being carefree (but without true freedom). We can cast aside our usual dose of good judgment and caution and indulge. So, it’s our desire to be unconscious, without awareness that calls for the sweet or salty snack. If this story speaks to you, the first remedy is to give yourself the state of being carefree that you desire. Create a moment without the need for good judgment and caution, where you can be truly carefree. Get creative here. I would love to hear what you come up with!
The other scenario where you may not be successful in reaching for a tool such as EFT is when you are in need of facing your own shadow. Our shadow represents our dark side. It is aspects of ourselves that comprise the totality of which we are, yet for which we lack admiration. By overeating and indulging, we take the EZ Pass to the shadow side. In short order, we become self-critical of all of our weaknesses. Indulging our food craving is the ticket to self-loathing. What if you could examine your dark side with presence? Identify qualities you have, such as anger, impatience, fear, weakness. List them. Come to a place of accepting that these qualities make up the whole you. They are also part of universal consciousness and not to be denied. You will be able to embrace your unsavory qualities once you identify how they have served you in good stead.
In conclusion, food is love. The connection is hard to break. Opportunity for personal growth stems from this connection. Try EFT to stop a craving in its tracks. Or, identify what you really want when you reach for food in the absence of hunger. Give yourself the gift of what you want, rather than the food. If you can’t stop the train of craving, make note of your feelings afterwards. Take steps to make peace with these aspects of yourself which you find unworthy. Love yourself.
Carla C. Hugo is an experienced Life Coach, trained by Coach U and has been in business since 1997. She is also an EFT Practioner (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and has been using and teaching EFT since April of 2006. Additionally, Carla studied with Hal Runkel, LMFT and is a certified ScreamFree Leader. Visit Carla on the web at http://www.getcoached.com/top_ten.html
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