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Do You Need Chocolate or a Hug? A Mindful Exploration of Food Cravings

A client of mine had an epiphany the other day. He shared with me that he was able to distinguish food cravings from an emotional need. Since he had “banned” chocolate from his house, he was pacing through the kitchen wondering what was calling from within? In the past sugar treats (especially chocolate) had helped him take the edge off and cope with stress.

I encourage all my clients to practice a mindful pause before reaching for a snack. He decided to pause and explore with gentle curiosity what he was truly in need of. He then realized that he needed connection and a cuddle after a long and challenging day at work. He walked straight into the living room where his wife was watching a movie, took her hand, moved over to the sofa and cuddled with her for a while. This was a truly a meaningful moment for my client and for our work together going forward.

Even if we don’t have a partner to cuddle with we can show ourselves some sweet love in other ways. We can be gentle, tender and kind with ourselves.

Suggestion: Make a list of self-nurturing rituals (small acts of kindness towards yourself) that you can add to your self-love and self-care toolbox. When we crave certain things - salty, crunchy or sweet - oftentimes it’s not the food that we need. Instead we may be in need of a little something special for the heart or the soul.

I am not above any of this. Sometimes when I feel like treating myself to a Happy Hour with french fries and a glass of wine, I check in with myself - even park my car for a few minutes. I investigate with kindness and self-compassion what my heart is truly hungry for. Sometimes it is love, other times a need for connection and conversation. I give myself the space to discover what my true need is. It works.

Give it a try next time you have strong food cravings! AND, it’s perfectly okay to eat some chocolate or a beautiful pastry, which I refer to as “indulging mindfully." There are no taboo food groups in my program. Special treats are wonderful and we all deserve them. Food is to be celebrated and enjoyed. Relying on (leaning on) certain foods and snacks on a regular basis to cope with difficult emotions may become problematic and doesn’t serve as a longterm solution for many yo-yo dieters.

My counseling work involves taking a deep dive into the underlying needs and emotions, which drive someone to the fridge or pantry when they aren’t physically hungry. If you are ready to embark on this journey of discovery with me and want to sign a peace treaty with food and your body, reach out to me. You can schedule your complimentary initial consultation by clicking on this link. I look forward to speaking with you.

With compassion,



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