There are many reasons for emotional eating. In Chinese Medicine and the 5 Elements, most causes for craving sweet food or eating when not hungry fall under the domain of the Stomach and Spleen. In Western medicine, these organs control appetite and blood sugar levels, so it’s no surprise that when these organs are out of balance they cause emotional problems too.
The time of year for these organs is late summer when everything is coming to fruit. In Ireland, this is celebrated as Lughnasadh, a traditional harvest festival when the first crops of the year are harvested and thanks is given for the abundance of the earth. In England it is called Lammas, the word coming from “loaf mass” where harvest was celebrated by baking breads and cakes which were then consecrated. The flavour at this time of year is sweet from the yield of soft fruits, orange vegetables such as carrots and squash and the collection of grains of which the carbohydrates become sugars when chewed. This time of celebration is for the mother earth and her abundance of sweetness. Being in harmony with this time of year and the attitude of gratitude is a quick route to balancing the Stomach and Spleen which can stop the desire for sweet stuff. It brings emotional and physical fulfillment rather than overeating and satisfaction through food.
Sometimes enough is never enough. No matter how much we have, how much we work, earn, clean, help, support or create, it’s not quite perfect. Sometimes we focus on the one little bit that’s missing. Birthday presents arrive and they are not quite what we wanted or a cup of tea is made but it’s not quite hot enough or strong enough. These patterns of thought can be buried deep in the subconscious. No one in their right mind would be ungrateful that they had a roof over their head or food on the table. But sometimes it’s not enough, we are not enough. Expectations of perfection put upon us by culture or family mean we can be caught in a stressful cycle of performance and achievement rather than being thankful for all that is. These mental beliefs are part and parcel of emotional eating.
The uncomfortable feeling that something is missing and that we are not enough we can often fill with food. Suppressing uncomfortable feelings of inadequacy with cake, chocolate or chocolate cake.
There is a quick fix for these often subconscious beliefs that run in our mind and are expressed through our eating and that is to keep a gratitude journal. Im grateful to write this blog, to sit in the sunshine and have the knowledge, time and computer to bring these thoughts into being. I keep a gratitude journal and write at least five things I am grateful for every day. The more grateful you are, the more things you see and experience, to be grateful for. My partner and I have started playing gratitude ping pong, which is before we go to sleep we bounce back and forth the things we are grateful for. One of which has to be a quality within us, like the ability to touch type, that I can run 2k without stopping, that I am flexible enough to touch my toes. Then we move to the externals, such as sunshine and a comfy bed. This a simple exercise but dont underestimate the power of gratitude to stop you eating emotionally. The hole inside will be filled with thanks rather than biscuits.
There are other aspects to emotional eating and the craving for sweet stuff, such as certain foods, flavours, stretches and acupressure points that feed and balance the Stomach & Spleen and I will be covering all other aspects at the Sweet Satisfaction Retreat but a gratitude journal is a good place to start. It can begin to stop the cycle of sugar highs and energy lows. Everyone attending the retreat will receive a Gratitude journal to take home and we will practice filling it on the retreat together, where there will be lots of things to be grateful for. Including recipes and cooking classes that will offer healthy alternatives to stop the sweet cravings. I really hope to see you at the kitchen table for this wonderful, unique weekend where you can learn to use your body’s cravings, emotions, colours and times of day/year to understand what is going on inside your body.
We all have to eat, now you can understand what you are eating and why you chose the foods you do. This Retreat is about understanding unconscious desires for sweet foods and awareness of the emotional aspect of food. If you would like more information including a full schedule outline plus menu, email me below and I will email it out to you.