Years ago after I quit smoking, I substituted food to soothe my discomfort (as many do). The same way a cigarette break gave me ‘permission’ to rest for ten minutes (which released tension and changed my feeling state), the salty snack or rich piece of chocolate I craved, seemed to make me feel better in a moment of frustration, anger or sadness.

The problem was that after satisfying my craving, I didn’t feel better: sometimes I felt worse. I’m sure you can relate. The fix was temporary and what I actually needed was to develop the ability to effectively manage my feelings and understand what I was really craving. (Which I eventually achieved through years of good therapy.)

As a psychotherapist, countless women (and some men) have confided in me about their eating habits. With deep shame and guilt they reveal the heavy secrets they carry about their late-night binges, sometimes consuming up to five thousand calories in a single sitting. Outside of my practice, and especially when I worked as a talent agent for models, women shared their extremely restrictive diets of coffee, diet coke, cigarettes and salads—without dressing. Though, no matter what their diet, everyone seemed to be craving something.

To understand what your cravings are look for the feelings underneath them. @Terri_Cole
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Your eating habits and especially your cravings can hold the key to information about your emotions and your body. One of my favorite quotes from author Geneen Roth is this: “We don’t want to EAT hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes.” When you start to recognize that the food you crave is part of a bigger picture you can begin to dive deeper into what it is you actually desire.

It is not uncommon to use food as a way to mood alter when you’re feeling upset, angry or even happy. Food is a huge part of our culture and has always held deep emotional associations. Whether we are mourning a death or celebrating a marriage, food plays a role in how we express and numb our feelings. Food cravings can be indicators that a situation or emotion needs your attention.

This week, I encourage you to check in with yourself before you reach for a cookie or another glass of wine. Take a quick scan of your body and note where you feel what.

Get curious about your sensations and feelings. Maybe you’re sad and missing a loved one. Or you could just be tired and need a nap. Regardless of how you feel, trying to manage your emotions through food rarely provides the relief and release you’re seeking. What it often leads to is guilt, frustration and stomach aches. You deserve better.

If cravings and food have been something you struggle with, I invite you to learn more from author, speaker and holistic health counselor Alex Jamieson. Alex has been a good friend of mine for years and believe me when I say that when it comes to cravings, she is my go-to guru. If you’re ready to uncover the truth behind your cravings, check out our interview now on my podcast, Hello Freedom. You can subscribe and listen now on iTunes.

I’m curious about what you’re craving. In the comments below tell me one food you constantly crave and, after reading this blog, what you think that craving might actually mean. I’m often amazed by your insights so please share.

Have a wonderful weekend.

As always, take care of you.

Love Love Love,


Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Sign up for Terri’s weekly Tune Up Tips and follow her on Twitter.

Image courtesy of vnysia.