It seems like weight gain and anxiety go hand in hand in my household. Do you ever notice this correlation? Well today I had an interesting experience as I started to notice this playing out. I was driving around this cloudy Seattle summer day, and though I’d eaten just an half hour earlier I started feeling the strong urge to eat again. I checked in with my stomach, it was quite full still, and I knew that if I gave in to this sense of craving that I wouldn’t be able to eat much more without feeling stuffed.
So, I began to look around for what could be causing this- I was near an upscale mall, and so I wondered was it a feat of marketing with all the signs for fast food? Or the sophisticated appeal of fancy restaurants that were making my mind hungry? As I’ve been instructed in meditation, you can do one of two things you can apply an antidote or you can sink into the sensation even more. I decided that aversion (the antidote) would be too time consuming- I’d have to think of the decomposition of food, perhaps even it’s form after going through my digestive tract, etc. Geez! Thus, I decided I’d stick with the sensation of craving, and drop deeper into the sensation of wanting, which felt so strong it uncovered a neediness.
What was I truly needing that was driving this sense of urgent wanting for more food? And, noticing that the foods that were most appealing to me at the time (pasta, rich sauces), I asked myself, what was it that was beneath this hunger for richness- a desire for fat.
After I relaxed into the sense of craving, I began to feel a slight buzz. At the beginning there was quite an unpleasant sense of resistance, like a magnetic repulsion that with a decision to just sit with whatever was happening, and resisting the resistance to overcome or succumb to something, it became palpably different. Amazingly enough, I didn’t reach for my cell phone or pull into a drive thru restaurant (Can I have an enormous burger with extra fat to fulfill my extreme craving for sanity? And, a super sized side of inner peace, please?) I thought of something I’d heard the word of before, “the suchness”- isn’t that a lovely word?
That word, suchness allowed my mind to attach a label to a heightening of my senses as if I could feel the air around me become more present, like it had a pleasant viscosity and the signs and colors became more vibrant without drawing me in. In fact, the cool thing was I felt like I was in the “in” and that there was no “into” to be concerned about. Hmmm, the “suchness of now,” the richness of all these different inner and outer sensations, and interactions with my mental and physical body became my focus instead of a lack or a struggle to be at one pole or another of giving in or pulling away from a craving. It was cool, and then it transitioned into my more reliable state of monkey mind that went back to focusing on what I had to do next.
I finished my errands, without distraction, and decided if I felt hungry when I returned home I would have some avocado with a healthy left-over, curry beet quinoa. (Perhaps having a yummy leftover at home was another positive driver for resisting temptation!)
When I got home, I continued contemplating the experience, the craving sensations and the fact that I was craving fat. What was at the basis of fat as the focus of my craving? I asked myself, if, and, what emotional need was driving my craving for fat. The answer my brain produced almost immediately, was the need for comfort, for structure, for a sense of security. I had just been through a few days of indecisiveness and having a bit too much laxity in my life. I thought of how fat is the major ingredient in breast milk, and how it represents the emotional structure of Mother.
Then I started to think about protein craving, like when people feel a need to eat lots of meat. I realized that usually came about when people wanted to feel stronger, or ground as in strengthening their root chakra. I thought of how protein resonates with the emotional structure of father.
So what about sugar? That’s probably the most familiar phenomenon for most people including myself (which perhaps is why I was able to be surprised and curious about a craving for fat. The almost compulsive ingestion of simple carbs or sugary foods is a prime reason for the epidemics of obesity and adult onset diabetes worldwide. Of course, from a nutritional and physiological standpoint one could argue that a craving for sugar is actually a need for protein.
I find myself eating lots of simple carbs, when I am trying to push through something like a long day, a tall stack of papers, as if I need to reward or convince myself that I can do it if only in spurts. This is an interesting concept as it jibes with the anthroposophic medicine point of view, (which stems from the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and Eva Wegman), that increased sugar intake occurs when there is a need for more “Ego structure,” like inspiration, drive, or a sense of Will.
Does this ring true for you? I invite you to look at what your drives, be it food cravings or shopping addictions, tell you about your emotional needs are. What the emotional triggers are and how you might make them your allies when you need to get through the day without pushing yourself at an oral level when you might do better receiving at an emotional level. Like a hug instead of butter, a game of basketball or wrestling instead of a 16 oz sirloin, or finding inspiration in a person, a sunset, or yourself, instead of the chocolate bar or a stiff drink.
As always, I welcome your feedback (including recipes) and send you wishes for good health, laughter and insight.
Here's a recipe for a non-dairy, non-wheat, good for your liver nourishing meal, measurements aren't exact so experiment ; )
Curry beet quinoa (or rice)
3 small beets raw/sliced
2-4 cloves garlic (depending on your taste or you can omit)
1 tsp yellow mustard seed
1-2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp coconut oil
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
3 cups of cooked quinoa or brown rice
1 can tomato sauce
1 fresh lemon
1 Avocado slices
Sea salt and pepper to taste.
Saute garlic, mustard seeds in warm oil, add in onions if you want,raw beets, and curry powder, cook for few minutes while beets absorb spices and soften, add in quinoa or rice, tomato sauce (1/2 can) and water in about equal amounts (taste as you go), and cilantro. Simmer for few minutes until beets are soft and the liquid is resorbed.
Squirt with lemon juice and sea salt to taste, and garnish with fresh avocado slices and more cilantro leaves if desired. Make a lot so you can refrigerate for left overs.
Surprisingly my daughter and her friends are always asking me to make this for them- go figure kids like curry beet rice! Beets and cilantro are excellent for helping your liver detoxify, and the spices help with circulation. Coconut oil nourishes your thyroid gland, and along with avocado, are great sources of good fats. Quinoa is a good protein source. Bon apetit!