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FAT IS A SPIRITUAL ISSUE
Doreen Virtue, Ph.D.
If you've struggled with weight and dieting, then you already know how
to lose weight better than anyone! Eat less fat and exercise more --
it's not rocket science. Yet the reason why Americans are heavier that
ever is due to our overactive appetites. If we weren't hungry all the
time, there would be no weight problems.
You can reduce the power of your food cravings. By interpreting why you
are craving a particular food, and dealing with the underlying need,
your cravings will dissipate or disappear. You'll feel more in control
of your food choices. Instead of that box of cookies commanding you to
eat it, you'll feel free to eat one, two, or no cookies.
Once you know how to interpret your food cravings, your urges to overeat
will never overwhelm you again.
Peace of Mind
Every part of you is perfect, whole and complete. Your appetite is no
exception. Food cravings and a voracious appetite don't mean that
something is wrong with you or that your are weak in any way. Rather,
they show that your appetite is operating exactly as intended.
Your entire body's functioning, including your appetite, reflects your
inner state of being. Your appetite is designed like an airplane
instrument panel - to warn you when spiritual and emotional fuel runs
low. Hunger is a flashing red light signaling, "I need more peace of
Animals put on extra weight in preparation for winter hibernation.
Humans who carry extra weight are in a spiritual hibernation, asleep to
their true potential. The weight serves as a hedge against perceived
dangers and lack, in a world that, in truth, is filled with safety and
Not knowing this, you may have tried to kill your appetite with external
forces such as diets, powders or pills. As you discovered, that approach
didn't work for long. What is needed, instead, is to heal your appetite
using an internal approach.
Our gut is the center of our emotions. We feel fear, excitement, anger
and love in our midsection. You've probably had one of these
experiences: butterflies of excitement in your stomach; intuition in the
form of a "gut feeling"; knots in your stomach when you felt anxious or
afraid; nausea or a stomachache when you were nervous; hunger when you
were lonely, bored or stressed.
Our gut is the link between the intelligence of the universe and our
human experience. This inner voice encompasses a million years of wisdom
inherited from our cave-dwelling ancestors. It tells us when a person is
acting honorably, which career path to take, what house to buy, which
person to marry, and so on.
When we listen to our gut feelings, we're always rewarded with peace of
mind. But sometimes our gut's instructions seem frightening, because
they ask us to go beyond our comfortable boundaries, and we mistakenly
believe we will fail to fulfill our dreams. When we feel frightened, we
pour food down our gut to drown out our inner voice.
Chocolate: Hungry for Love
Americans spend five billion dollars a year on chocolate. Ironically,
that is roughly how much money is spent on weight-loss methods. Clearly
we are a nation of chocoholics.
You may have heard that chocolate contains the same chemical that the
brain creates when we're feeling romantic love. This chemical,
phenylethylamine (pronounced fennel-ethel-a-meen) and abbreviated as
PEA, has the same properties whether found in chocolate or in the brain.
PEA is so powerfully mood-altering that it used to be a prescribed
medication! Until the early 1980's, PEA was the main ingredient in a
pill called MDMA. Then it was declared an illegal drug, and was taken
off the market. Today, the same pill is sold on the streets as "Ecstasy"
or "X." With PEA as an ingredient, its no wonder chocolate is so craved.
Chocolate cravings are based on unfulfilled desires for love. Our
serotonin and energy levels are drained by stress-filled days, too-tight
schedules, unhealthful eating, and lack of exercise. We then turn to
chocolate to feel better. Chocolate cravings can be temporarily masked
by drinking ginger ale, pekoe tea, soy milk, diet soda, or coffee -
-beverages that contain less of the same stimulating properties as
chocolate. But the only lasting cure for chocolate cravings comes from
inside. This means fulfilling your need for love by treating yourself
like you are the most special person in the world (which you are)!
Anytime you start to feel unloved, go into a quiet space and completely
focus on your gut. Look for the slightest inkling of a butterfly in your
stomach: the feeling that you're about to open a wonderful present or
you've just won the lottery. Consciously expand that feeling, as if you
are riding the butterfly feeling up into the air. Soon, your heart will
feel soft and warm. You will feel the identical feelings to being newly
in love. This is what you are trying to reproduce by eating chocolate.
Dairy: The Antidepressant Foods
As infants, we all craved and consumed a great deal of milk. Some
researchers believe that our earliest cravings for milk are, in reality,
a craving for the sweet lactose that is found in this dairy product.
But there are other properties of dairy products even more powerful that
their inherently sweet taste. When you break down the ingredients of
milk-based products, you find an over-the-counter antidepressant - no
Resentment and frustration, if ignored, eventually mutate into
depression. To relieve depression, center yourself before eating. Give
your gut feelings a chance to be heard above the din. Before picking up
your fork, lower your eyes, take a breath, go inward and say grace in
your own way. Your body will relax, and your inner voice will reward you
with valuable guidance and inspired information.
These other strategies also help relieve depression. Eat a nutritionally
balanced diet. Exercise. Do grief work. Get professional help if
Salty Snack Foods: Stress, Anger, and Anxiety
Stressful eaters crave crispy snack foods such as potato chips, popcorn
and crackers. The crunchy textures provide a cathartic outlet for all
the tension held in the jaw. Like pounding a punching bag, we take our
tensions and anger out on every crispy bite.
When those frustrating cravings urge you to eat chips, crackers, popcorn
or pretzels, ask yourself, "Who am I angry at?" It makes no sense to
punish yourself by overeating unhealthful foods. You're devouring those
salty, greasy potato chips, so you are the only person who will suffer
the effects of feeling sluggish, bloated and overweight. Take out your
anger in healthy and productive ways (such as exercise), instead of
Address the source of your stress. Push yourself to resolve some of your
uneasy feelings right now. Deep down, you already know what steps to
take, but you are afraid of the consequences. You're afraid you'll make
things worse instead of better. Visualize what a better life would look
like and then act on it. Tell others what behavior you will and won't
accept. You'll be doing yourself an incredible favor.
Spicy Foods: The Drive for Excitement
Do you season your food before tasting it? Is your food philosophy, "The
spicier the better"? Do you adore Mexican, Thai or spicy Chinese food,
and abhor bland English or traditional American dishes?
Food isn't the only area of your life that you prefer spicy. You may
also crave excitement and high intensity in your work, love, and play.
If you aren't getting enough thrills, you may convert that frustration
into intense cravings for spicy foods.
Excitement is a physical high stemming from adrenaline production. It is
short-lived and ultimately very draining. Enthusiasm, on the other hand,
provides a lasting high and results in increased energy. Excitement is
drawn from external sources, such as eating spicy foods, going on a
roller coaster, or being in a dangerous situation. Enthusiasm comes from
internal sources, such as taking steps toward fulfilling your dreams.
Really hot spices encourage the brain to release pain-relieving
chemicals that bathe and numb the entire body. It's a natural way to
seek emotional anesthesia, but it's a Band-Aid, a temporary measure. Ask
yourself, "What's really bothering me?" and, "What do I really want and
Once the answers surface, it's a part of self-responsibility and
self-love to take steps toward fulfilling these desires. Even before you
achieve your ultimate goals, you'll feel so much better. Knowing that
you are progressing in the direction of your dreams is a therapeutic
feeling that will relieve any desire to self-medicate with chili
Love is the Filling Feeling
We are spiritual beings who inhabit a body that is perfect, whole and
complete. Every part of our body responds to our beliefs, thoughts, and
emotions. When the body appears to be malfunctioning, we must look at
the thought that needs healing. Heal the thought and we heal the body.
Our gut is the center of all emotions, negative and positive. We can
pour one of two things on our gut feelings: food or love. Pouring food
on our gut is easy; we all know how to do that. Pouring love on our gut
requires some patience and practice, but it is worth it.
Paying attention to your gut feeling means that you trust that you have
the talent, time, energy, money, intelligence and creativity to fulfill
your dreams. This trust comes from a faith that you were born in the
image and likeness of your Creator. When you follow your gut, you are
rewarded with a satisfying existence. Everybody has a Divine right to
love, fun, creative expression, perfect health, and prosperity. When you
claim your rights, your body responds in gratitude and harmony.
Suddenly, you are no longer fighting your appetite.
When your appetite normalizes, your excess body weight will drop off
naturally, almost without thought. Then, as long as you maintain your
peace of mind, you will not struggle with food cravings. Long-term
weight maintenance, then, is actually peace-of-mind maintenance.
Doreen Virtue, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist specializing in women's
issues, especially those relating to weight and eating. Dr. Virtue
personally transformed from a "fat, unhappy, and uneducated housewife"
into an author of the bestselling books Yo-Yo Syndrome Diet and Losing
Your Pounds of Pain.
Dr. Virtue is a frequent guest on talk shows such as Oprah, Geraldo, and
Sally Jessy Raphael. Her articles have appeared in TV Guide, Woman's
Day, Complete Woman, Woman, and New Body Magazine.
Dr. Virtue's books can be ordered through Hay House, Inc. at
Condensed from Constant Craving: What
Your Food Cravings Mean and How to Overcome Them, Hay House, © 1995 by
Doreen Virtue. Available through Hay House Publishers (1-800-654-5126).
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