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Health Experts

Made to Crave

Cravings are a mirror for your emotional state. Here's the secret to breaking free from an unhealthy relationship with food for good

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We’ve all had those moments when a food craving takes us hostage, overpowering even the strongest of willpowers. If you beat yourself up for devouring a box of chocolates or polishing off a bag of potato chips, consider this: What if your food cravings actually held significant meaning and were your body’s way of communicating with you?

They do and are, says Doreen Virtue, author of the new book Constant Craving: What Your Food Cravings Mean and How to Overcome Them. “Cravings occur for two reasons: a desire to feel better emotionally, or to shift our energy level,” says Virtue, who has worked extensively with eating disorder patients. “We want to feel peppier or calmer. More secure and confident. Less angry. Or less afraid.” They key is to discover and understand why you crave what you do-and how you can find healthier ways to deal with your underlying triggers.

BN: Explain a little bit about fat being a spiritual issue.

DV: When you crave something, it’s a response to an underlying emotional issue-much like craving water if you’re thirsty. Overweight comes from ignoring the emotional and spiritual issues that your cravings are asking you to address.

BN:What are some of the most common cravings and their underlying causes?

DV: Chocolate: The chemical PEA in chocolate is identical to the feel-great brain chemical that you secrete when you’re newly in-love. “Chocoholics” are usually highly romantic people who harbor romantic frustrations.

High-fat foods: If you crave soft high-fat food, you’re likely dealing with job insecurity. You may feel financially trapped and afraid to make changes. If you crave crispy high-fat foods, you’re likely stressed and taking your angst out by chomping the crisp food.

Dairy products: The soothing creamy texture is like a nurturing hug when you’re upset, plus the choline and tryptophan act as natural sedatives and anti-depressants.

BN:What are some of the best ways to heal constant cravings?

DV: Be honest with yourself and look for ways to directly address your issues. Also, give your brain’s feel-good chemicals a natural boost by engaging in 20 minutes of daily exercise; getting a dose of sunshine; meditating; and ensuring that you get enough sleep. That way, your brain won’t seek out unhealthful substitutes through food cravings.

Quick Takes

1. What’s your favorite way to unwind?
a: Connecting with nature. I love to walk along beaches, go swimming or scuba diving, be out in gardens, and listen to and feed wild birds. Nature is so soothing.

2. What supplements and/or foods are essential to your daily regimen?
a: I take spirulina supplements daily, as it contains essential fatty acids and it’s a natural detoxer.

3. What are your favorite foods?
a: I love fresh tropical fruits, such as mangoes. Fortunately, since I live in Hawaii, these are readily available.

4. What motivates you?
a: As long as I feel that I can provide information that can help other people or the environment, I will keep working.