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When we enter a state of having intense food cravings, it is often because we are reacting to a particular trigger, such as an uncomfortable or disturbing interaction or the occurrence of a stressful event. We then go into a stressed state—perhaps our muscles in the belly, jaw, shoulders, or pelvis become clenched unconsciously or we find ourselves feeling numb or agitated.
Habitually, this state can then be accompanied by an intense craving for certain foods—often the foods that we think of as comforting. Until we find a way to break this inner state, we remain a slave to the triggers in our environment. Also, we often use food or drugs habitually as an efficient means to change our state—that is, to change the way that we are feeling in the moment. If you’re like many of my clients, your unproductive eating habits have developed and been reinforced for many years.
The Break-Your-Craving-State Technique offers you a method for breaking the internal state that causes your cravings without having to self-medicate with food, alcohol, caffeine, drugs—both prescription and otherwise, or diet pills, and it teaches you how to move from your outer level—where your doubts and fears about yourself and your environment exist—to the deeper levels inside yourself where the states of being that free you from addiction reside.
Breaking Free from Habitual Responses
Before you can effectively break your state, you need to acknowledge the state that you are in. Many times when we are “out of sorts,” we are unclear as to what is really happening internally. Often it appears as if we were simply responding to outside circumstances.
For example, we may tell ourselves, “Of course I am upset and reaching for the candy jar—my son has been screaming for half an hour,” or “It’s no wonder I’m going to need to drink a pot of coffee today—I was up all night with the dog,” or “I was treated so poorly as a child, I’ll always seek to comfort myself with chips and bread.”
These statements seem self-evident. However, if your goal is to live your life healthfully and happily and care for and honor your body, heart, and mind, then reaching for the candy jar or chips or drinking the pot of coffee is in conflict with the intention that you set. Project ahead and ask yourself, how are you going to feel after you engage in the behavior? Even if the candy distracts you from the upset with your son, or the bread gives you a few moments of relief from unpleasant feelings, or the coffee helps you to get through the day, you are very likely to feel remorseful and bad about yourself, and may even come to the conclusion that you are hopeless.
What if there was a way to break your state in such situations, rather than follow the familiar road of self-sabotage? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to change your course midstream and switch to the path that leads you to your desired destination? The Break-Your-Craving-State Technique will allow you to do just that.
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Let’s take a look at some of the underlying states that lead to food addiction or addiction in general as well as those internal states that can free you from persistent food and substance cravings.
Inner States That Lead to Food Addiction
- Out of control
Inner States That Free You from Food Addiction
The Break-Your-Craving-State Technique
The following seven-step Break-Your-Craving-State Technique is to be used any time you experience unhealthy cravings. To practice this exercise effectively, activate your imagination. As you repeat the practice daily, there will be many sessions when you aren’t actually triggered, in the moment, when you are going through this exercise. For those times, I recommend that you imagine your last negative eating experience or substance binge and recall the triggers and internal state that you were in.
This type of practice will make it easier to employ the technique when you are actually in a situation where you need it. Also, some of the steps require time and privacy. Therefore, the more you practice the technique in a quiet and private place while imagining your food triggers, the easier it will be to use it in a more charged situation when you are actually caught in the throes of food, alcohol or drug cravings.
Step 1: Distance Yourself from the Trigger
Step 2: Identify Your Inner State
Step 3: Get a Second, Truer Opinion
Step 4: Identify with Your New State
Step 5: Shake Off the Limiting Belief
Step 6: Anchor Your Higher Intention
Step 7: Choose a New Action
(Editor's Note: Each step has a comprehensive description of how to practice it. See the book for full details.)
Exaggerating Your State
One alternative and effective way to break your current state quickly is to simply exaggerate it to the point of becoming absurd. For example, when you are faced with a situation that brings up painful feelings in you, rather than rationalize or deny your feelings (which often leads to stuffing your feelings with food), you can take the situation to a ridiculous conclusion.
I find the following exercise to be extremely helpful in letting go of any attachment to things being a certain way and returning to a state of equilibrium and peace. You’ll still have preferences, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to be free from the angst that often occurs when people or situations in life inevitably let you down?
Here’s how it works. The first step to exaggerating your state is to realize and admit to yourself that you are triggered. It doesn’t matter if the trigger is mild or strong. Just notice your physical state. Let’s start with the following example, and then you can try it for yourself.
You are feeling slightly annoyed that your friend didn’t return your phone call for over a week. Write down (or become aware of) the inner voices:
“Why doesn’t she call me back? Doesn’t she care about me?”
“She’s too busy for our friendship. I really miss her.”
"Maybe I should call her again. No, I don’t want to bother her.”
“I’m just going to forget about her and get busy. She’s always too preoccupied.”
“I’m tired of this being a one-way friendship.”
Notice how your body feels, and tune in to where in your body you may be holding this feeling of annoyance. Name the predominant feeling. Be honest with yourself. You may write down, “Right now I am feeling really angry with Jane. She never calls me back. I’m busy, too, but I always make time for her. I’m tired of being the one who has to reach out.”
Now exaggerate your anger to the point of a ridiculous conclusion. If you followed your anger, uncensored, and allowed it to lead you, where might you end up? Have fun with your scenario.
There may be a few options. One may be that Jane finally does call you and you hang up on her. You may imagine that your anger gets so strong that you start yelling and screaming and punching the walls. You may pound so hard on the walls that your house starts to crumble.
By taking the conclusion to the absurd, it’s easier to let the feelings flow through you and disappear naturally, without trying to make them go away or acting them out in a self-destructive way. When you exaggerate your state, use all your senses. Increase the accompanying inner voices’ rate of chatter. Then slow it down. You may even change the pitch and tempo of your self-talk to make it more ridiculous. If there is a certain person (or yourself) whom you believe is the cause of your upset, see his or her face (or your own) and the entire situation in a very distorted way.
Perhaps as you sit with your anger, you realize that there is some deep sadness underneath. You may discover voices like this underneath:
“I’m all alone.”
“All my friends are gone.”
“My children grew up so fast.”
“Life is lonely.”
“I don’t have the energy for friendship.”
“People always hurt me.”
Now, rather than convince yourself that these thoughts are silly and you should get rid of them, once again exaggerate the feelings that these thoughts lead to, and watch them vanish naturally. Notice how you are feeling physically, and once again write down your state: sad, depressed, hopeless, lonely.
Making your states stronger temporarily, and taking the possible outcomes of acting out your feelings to a ridiculous conclusion, helps to loosen their grip on you. The goal is to realize that you do have control over how long and often this scenario gets replayed in your mind’s eye. Once you can accept that your internal states come and go it becomes easier to just say yes to what you are feeling in the moment.
When you exaggerate that feeling to a very illogical, absurd conclusion, it becomes easier to give up the need to control life, since it is impossible to do so. We come to realize and accept that part of being alive is experiencing all the highs and lows—including joy and sadness, feelings of connection and separation, gains and losses, thrills and disappointments.
“How Long Am I Going To Hold On To This?”
An enlightening question to ask yourself is, “How long am I going to hold on to this?” When you realize that you are going to have to let the matter go at some point, it becomes easier to let it go sooner rather than later, especially when you make the connection between holding on to the feelings and judgments and the suffering that you are creating for yourself as a result.
Sometimes it feels convenient or accurate to assume that if a certain situation or person weren’t there, you could truly be happy. You may imagine that if only you weren’t overweight, your life would be good. But the truth is that your overweight or unhealthy condition is an opportunity that life is giving you to know and love yourself more deeply.
If we view all the challenges in our lives this way, we come to see that every obstacle is a doorway to uncover the greater virtues that lie hidden within. This a great exercise to use when you are already triggered and need to reach a more resourceful state quickly. Here are the steps:
EXERCISE: EXAGGERATE-YOUR-STATE TECHNIQUE
1. Realize that you are triggered.
2. Become aware of the inner voices. Notice how your body feels. If you can, write down the thoughts and feelings on paper.
3. See the situation that is upsetting you in your mind’s eye.
4. Exaggerate it in any way that you can. Imagine it much worse than it actually is. Intensify your negative reaction to the people and events that are involved. Bring it to a ridiculous conclusion.
5. Open your heart to yourself and unlock the well of love and compassion that is available from yourself
©2019 by Rena Greenbert. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpted with permission. Publisher: Lisa Hagan Books.
Easy Sugar Break-Up: Break the Habits and Addictions That Control You
(Originally published as "The Craving Cure")
by Rena Greenberg.
Excessive consumption of sugar in all its forms--including simple carbohydrates, caffeine, alcohol--can lead to weight problems, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and other mental and physical disorders. Whatever your craving weakness, this book will give you the inner power, strategies and techniques you need to overcome it. (Also available as a Kindle edition and as an Audiobook.)
About the Author
Rena Greenberg works with people all over the world in private hypnotherapy and coaching sessions on Skype and face-to-face in Florida to help people get healthy and improve their lives. Rena holds a degree in bio-psychology from the City University of New York and a master’s degree from the University of Spiritual Healing and Sufism. She is also a hypnosis and NLP trainer and is board certified in biofeedback therapy. Rena can be reached at http://EasyWillpower.com