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Explore Emotional Cravings

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>> Hello there. Welcome back to our deep dive into cravings. Cravings are complex and research continues to explore all the mechanisms behind them both physiological and psychological. In this lecture, we'll cover some important root causes of emotional cravings, as well as some connections between cravings, primary food, and emotional eating. While physical cravings might relate to biological imbalances or nutritional deficits, emotional cravings are motivated by emotional triggers. They relate to the food-mood connection, which is when emotions influence our food choices and vice versa. Let's cover six potential root causes of emotional cravings. They'll probably sound familiar based on our discussions so far. Number one, emotions and stress. Hopefully this is pretty obvious by now, right? Emotional cravings are one form of emotional eating. On a deeper level, we use food in an attempt to control and change how we feel even if we already feel good. If a person doesn't have the tools or know how to use them to respond to emotions in a healthy way, emotional cravings can register as food cravings. I had a client once share with me that after her first date that went really well, she had a strong urge to raid the fridge. When she checked in with herself, she realized it wasn't because she was hungry, it's because she was so excited and giddy, but she had no idea what to do with these strong emotions. Which foods do you automatically reach for when you feel anxious, angry, sad, or happy? Eating habits can change based on mood. Do you stuff food in your mouth when you feel angry as if you're taking your anger out on the meal? Do you eat more mindfully when you feel happy and relaxed? Do you restrict food when you feel frustrated? Cravings and emotions are intricately linked. Number two, primary food deficiencies. Imbalances don't just apply to secondary food, they also apply to primary food when working with clients explore primary food. Is their exercise extremely intense or nonexistent? Do they feel unfulfilled or overworked in their jobs? What's missing? Is food filling that void? How can they replace food with something that would actually provide the nourishment they're seeking? Primary food deficiencies don't go away through exertion of willpower, they signal a real need and won't resolve without filling the gaps. Relationships are an integral factor in and well-being, and intimacy includes both physical touch and emotional connection. Do your clients have supportive and loving relationships? Do they have comfort in their lives? How do your clients' relationships affect their relationships with food? Has food become some sort of replacement for a partner? Cravings might indicate an imbalance or deficit in primary food. Number three, boredom. We've all been there. We're just sitting around, and we start looking in the fridge or cupboard for something to do. We're not hungry, but we're bored and we need distraction or entertainment. It's the opposite of mindful eating, isn't it? Somehow, we eat the entire bag of chips without realizing what we're doing. We like to feel good. Pleasure is our friend, instant gratification is our friend, food provides both, and even better, it's pretty much always there everywhere we turn, whether or not we're physically hungry. It's a great friend when we need something to occupy us. For some of your clients food may be the thing they look forward to most and the highlight of their days. Without first connecting to some kind of deeper meaning or excitement, can you see how removing the only thing that brings them joy might backfire quickly? Boredom also relates to the variety of food we eat. While some people attribute cravings to a lack of nutrients, others suggest that they might be do more to a monotonous diet. In one study, participants who ate nutritional shakes experienced stronger cravings, even though they received all of the nutrition their bodies needed, they didn't feel satisfied. Actually, this is why Ayurvedic tradition recommends including all six tastes in your meals. Cravings might just be our minds telling us that we need stimulation. Now onto number four, self-sabotage and limiting beliefs. Here at IIN, we refer to self-sabotage as de-evolution. While evolution encourages survival of the fittest, de-evolution encourages us to fit into the matrix. In other words, it moves us toward the safety of the herd and toward the comfort of the familiar at the expense of personal growth. Sometimes, when we move forward and make positive changes and are doing so well, we throw ourselves completely off-kilter. We decide to dive deep into a plate of nachos and order one more round at happy hour. In this scenario, a craving for nachos and beer may really be a craving to fit in, feel good and have fun. Or maybe it's because you feel like you're doing so well that you deserve a treat. Then you go home after consuming that wonderful tasting beer and nachos and beat yourself up for all the calories you just consumed. Many dieters and emotional eaters consider this a slippery slope where it becomes easy to fall off the wagon. Instead of dominoes falling toward greater health, the dominoes fall away from it. What's going on? Anyone who has been in this situation can probably identify a thought such as since I'm off-track, I might as well indulge a little more or I messed up my eating today, so I might as well throw in the towel and really enjoy myself. Can you relate? Remember that limiting beliefs can keep us stuck in emotional eating cycles by blocking our efforts at change. Perhaps deep down, we believe that we'll never be able to achieve our goals. Perhaps, we believe that we'll no longer fit in with our peer groups if we adopt healthier habits. Limiting beliefs motivate self-sabotage by giving us an excuse to stay stuck when we feel conflicted between our goals and what's comfortable, including the comfort of indulging our cravings. Number five, social situations and locations. This is another way of saying that cravings can be triggered by where we are, what we're doing or who we're with. For example, my mom and sister stop at a fast food place like McDonald's on road trips together. It's the only time they eat fast food and they usually feel horrible afterward, but they don't care. It's a tradition they've had for about a decade and it's pretty harmless because they do it one to three times per year. However, for many people, cravings are an ongoing struggle, especially with a lifestyle that's heavy on eating on the go. Social events and tempting media, it's hard to resist when we're always bombarded with unhealthy options. Seasonal cravings, which we discussed earlier, include holiday cravings, which often means eating richer foods, not only because of the season itself, but because of the emotional and celebratory components. Physical and emotional needs are connected after all. And when it comes to cravings, it's often hard to know which is which. Number six, cultural influences. These include past experiences, sensory cues, and cultural norms. First, let's talk about past experiences. Memories are powerful and food roots run deep. We might associate certain foods with childhood memories or family traditions. So if we recall these events or people, we might crave the foods we associate with those events or people. We also might crave foods that we recently consumed in an attempt to recreate those pleasant experiences. Sensory cues are another interesting aspect of cravings. First of all, cravings act like Pavlovian conditioning. Pavlov demonstrated the power of association. In his studies, dogs salivated in anticipation of eating. In other words, they unconsciously responded to stimuli. Have you ever craved a particular food because you associated that food with a particular event or environment? This is an example of learned behavior, just like the desire for popcorn when you go to the movies. Cravings can act like learned behaviors, does that make sense? Some research suggests that mental imagery might contribute to cravings. When we imagine foods we desire, we have a harder time focusing on other things. So what do we do? We essentially satisfy our minds by eating those foods so that we can move on with the day. Media often plays on sensory cues. One example of this is the priming phenomenon. Priming is basically how exposure to something can unconsciously influence behavior. Thinking about cravings, especially when you see things like advertised images in magazines, and product placement on television can increase our desire for something. Have you ever noticed how late-night advertisements for junk foods can suddenly lead to a craving for those foods? Finally, cultural norms can play a critical role in cravings, for example, there's a common view that women crave chocolate more than men due to hormones. However, think about the messages that many women receive about chocolate, it's a guilty pleasure, it's sinful, and it's even sensual. How do you think this might impact a woman's relationship with chocolate? Do you think it motivates emotional cravings? Number seven, reward and food addiction. For many people food is an integral part of the reward system. Perhaps it was treated as a reward during childhood or perhaps it became something deserved after a hard day or after eating well. Whatever the reason, food has become synonymous with a job well done. Food addiction is related to this idea. There are many conflicting views about the relationships between cravings and food addiction. Interestingly, foods that we feel addicted to can activate the same areas of the brain as drugs do for drug addicts. In other words, both food and drugs can follow similar reward pathways. For instance, many people talk about sugar like a drug. Drugs basically work like this, they release extra dopamine in the brain so that the brain reacts by producing less dopamine. Again, our biocomputers strive for balance. Over time, this can create a cycle of addiction as consistent drug use leads to smaller dopamine releases in the brain. In other words, the brain is less receptive to pleasure across the board and therefore requires more and more drugs to feel not even good but just normal. Likewise, taste buds can change over time requiring more and more flavor to satisfy us. Many foods like commonly-craved refined carbohydrates boost dopamine, a feel good neurotransmitter. In animal studies, sweetness actually surpasses cocaine in terms of reward response. In addition, eating sugar and processed foods can make us crave more sugar and processed foods and we get hooked. Have you ever had this experience? Finally, like other addictive behaviors or emotional eating habits, food cravings can lead to feeling out of control, especially when we try to suppress them. They can motivate compulsions to eat particular foods in order to feel food-highs. And finally, people with addictive eating habits, for example, eating beyond fullness or chronic dieting might experience more cravings. How might you discuss addictions versus cravings with clients? Do you see any relationship between the two? We included a handout called Food Addiction that encourages you to explore this more as many clients use this language. Now onto number eight, rigid lifestyles. Trying to resist a particular food can increase our desire for it. Again, we love to stick labels on things. So we're often quick to call this a craving. And when we lose control and give into cravings, we might try to justify it by saying that we're addicted. Sound familiar? In short, we need a reason for why we can't resist eating it. Depriving or suppressing a desire for particular foods often increases that desire. We feel especially satisfied when we eat it because it has consumed so much attention. Quite often, our minds try to create rules around food that our bodies disregard because they know better. Typical craving foods are often considered highly palatable, but requiring restriction. In other words, we crave foods that bring us pleasure but that we consider off limits. This may be why we tend to get strong cravings for sweets or junk food, but broccoli, not so much. Vegetables might be palatable, but they're probably not off limits food, so the temptation is low. Well, guess what, as I'm sure you've experienced, dieting and restricting can increase cravings. In her book, A Year of No Sugar, Eve Schaub shares how during her no-sugar challenge, she craved her favorite desserts, only to find that she didn't actually enjoy them very much. Interesting, right? Over time, taste buds can change. However, this doesn't necessarily remove the cravings. The pendulum swings both ways. Sometimes, we can become addicted to healthy eating. Have you ever eaten this way or had a client who did? This is another way of using food for control. As we've discussed, this extreme or dogmatic way of eating can lead to a host of issues, including physical and emotional health issues and disconnection from primary food. Okay, deep breath, we're almost done. Let's recap. Emotional cravings are cravings based on emotional triggers. They're an example of the food-mood connection. Eight potential root causes of emotional cravings are emotions and stress, primary food deficiencies, boredom, self-sabotage and limiting beliefs, social situations and locations, cultural influences, reward and food addiction, and rigid lifestyles. That's all for now. Be sure to take a look at the Food Addiction handout and share your thoughts in the Facebook group. See you soon.

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Duration: 14 minutes and 55 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Views: 5
Posted by: integrativenutrition on Mar 14, 2019

Explore Emotional Cravings

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