One of the markers you’re truly happy: you’re pulled only to food that’s great for you.
I’ve struggled with eating disorders since the age of 9. For much of that time I’d have irresistible food cravings, and I’d binge on sugar and dairy. For some of that time it was visible externally, but for much it wasn’t, because I’d cover it up with ridiculous amounts of exercise and fat burning supplements.
Now I’m a certified health coach, and for the last year (and for much of the last 4 years), I’ve eaten clean, fresh and often organic food most of the time. But for my first 3 months after returning to London from New York, I was struggling in silence with reverse culture shock, feeling isolated amidst the pressures of entrepreneurship and finding my feet again, and it happened again. Those insatiable urges. You’d think I’d never eaten before. And it finally really hit me.
Not just that positive emotions, relationships, purpose, balance, and time in nature are as much food as real food, but that very specifically, we’re pulled to sugar when we’re searching for emotional sweetness, and dairy for serenity – which is incredibly effective at alleviating anxiety.
Each time I’ve committed to finding ways to get more sweetness, more emotional connection and serenity in my life that don’t involve food, those food cravings have stopped. And as soon as I stop making my emotional needs a priority, they return.
If you’re craving bad food or even giving into it, whether for the first time or whether it’s so normal you barely even question it anymore, whatever you do don’t judge yourself. Look at yourself with the compassion you would show a friend and ask yourself what’s really going on. Go on an emotional treasure hunt. Ask yourself what’s really missing. Because it’s almost certainly not food.
And if it’s sugar, ask yourself how you can experience more sweetness. Ask yourself what you need to do to experience more connection, more love, more intimacy, and quality time with people who make you feel good. If it’s dairy, ask yourself how you can experience more serenity, more self care, bubble baths, candles, meditation, vacation/holiday time, whatever healthy forms of decompression make you feel most contented.