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How to work with food cravings


Insight meditation is a skill that can be very useful, especially if we find our thoughts totally lost in craving—wanting a piece of chocolate cake. Then instead of automatically following our thoughts and feelings we can stop—like having a pause button on a tape recorder—and not automatically grab the cake but notice if we are really hungry or be aware if we are tired or stressed out—and make a more healthful choice because of our skill of being able to STOP our train of thoughts and be present with our feelings. See the sections on emotional eating and life balance for additional ideas.


Insight Meditation is like strength training for the mind.


When we have practiced labeling our thoughts and noticing our feelings in our meditation time, we can then pay attention to see if these thoughts are profitable or unprofitable, skillful or unskillful, wholesome or unwholesome —as we go about our daily lives. Over time, this process gives us great personal freedom and a feeling of self-mastery. It is also a great way to relieve stress and achieve a calm, relaxed state.



With practice we notice three types of feelings: pleasant, unpleasant and neutral ones. We notice how we cling to pleasant experiences, resist or push away from unpleasant ones, and don’t really care about neutral ones.


We start to break the automatic sequence down: notice a thought or an event happens, which leads to a feeling, which leads to a response. We begin to notice that everything is always changing. Even an unpleasant feeling transforms with the passage of time. Learning this allows us to stay with an unpleasant feeling and not immediately want to numb out with an addictive choice. Instead we just notice that something is unpleasant and observe our automatic reaction to it. We begin to be aware of thoughts and reactions that reflect the feelings of: anxiety, despair, frustration, boredom, nervousness, joy, contentment and calm.



We learn to just be with our feelings and not push them away. We begin to express the skill of non-reaction, that is, whatever emotion turns up, we can just see it for what it is—as a feeling that has arisen and will pass away.

The Resources 2 section shares different methods and approaches to insight (Vippasna) meditation.



How to avoid self-destructive eating


The process just described, of using our minds to get in touch with our feelings and our bodies, and to calm our chaotic thoughts down can be very useful to help us avoid self-destructive reasons for eating. We need to practice these concepts at a time when it is most difficult to do so—when we are confused, cranky and feeling like numbing out with food.


To integrate these ideas into your life so that they can benefit you, read over these concepts, contemplate them—and then when you’re about to fall into your old self-destructive pattern—just pause—open to this section and the meditations on Be a Gardener to Your Own Mind and Examining the Mind—and work yourself through this process of learning how to cope with difficult circumstances.


Practicing this way makes the new choices permanent, an established part of how you live. 


Discover other insights and practical tools at:

Explore and contemplate these ideas to transform the emotional need underneath the craving:

             Copyright © 2001-2018 Bob Wilson BS, DTR  All Right Reserved. Articles are for personal use only. Please request permission for other uses. Thanks!