I had a mini moment in a patient's room the other day, in the middle of a conversation with her mother. The topic of conversation wasn't particularly remarkable (mostly the ins and outs of formula mixing), but what struck me was something else going on in the room. As I walked in, the patient's IV pump started to beep to signal that it was done with her infusion.
As a non-nurse, I don't have the power to silence the pump, so the beeping continued for 10 minutes as I stood there and we tried to focus together. For the most part, I could tune out the noice and hone in on my conversation - but the longer I stayed in the room, the louder it felt. Soon, it was all I could think about, and I wasn't being as attentive as I could have been. The once-subtle beeping was the only thing on my brain.
That’s what ignoring cravings does to our brains.
Now, I want you to imagine the beeping as a food craving. It begins softly, and in this case you absolutely do have the power to "turn off" the craving by satisfying it. But what happens if you don't listen to the craving? The signals get louder and louder, building until the craving is the only thing you can think about. It becomes all-consuming, until it finally overrides the voice it was fighting with inside of you that said don't eat that and you end up eating one, three, or more of whatever you were wanting.
Now think about this: what would your life be like if you satisfied more cravings? What if you turned off that beeping when it started, instead of letting it overtake your thoughts and keep you from living life? This can be a terrifying leap of faith, but one that creates so much peace in your mind after practice and experience (highly recommend Kylie's blog if you're in search of help with this transition).
This practice is one I've been trying to cultivate in my own life for the past few months, and it has been the most freeing thing I've ever done for myself. At first, when I felt a craving, I struggled with whether or not to respond to it, but reminded myself that my body deserves the respect of listening to what it needs and wants. I sometimes eat these foods past my fullness level because they're still giving me satisfaction, and that's okay too.
One of the biggest and most unexpected benefits of respecting cravings is not only the contentment of knowing that you listened to your body, but that my cravings decreased and don't feel as urgent. I am a firm believer that we always want what we *think* we can't have and so knowing that I am truly free to eat what I want, when I want actually makes me want it less frequently - and it's much more satisfying when I do end up truly wanting a food.
I also realized just how distracted I had been when I was restricting cravings, and how much more brain space I have now! I actually had to re-learn how to have a little mental peace because I felt like I forgot how to think when I wasn't thinking about food.
But enough about me... what about YOU? What would you have time for if you honored your cravings and created that peace in your mind?