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Surviving Food Cravings

Aug 23, 2008
This interview is an excerpt from Kevin Gianni's Renegade Roundtable, which can be found at http://www.RenegadeRoundtable.com. In this excerpt, Angela Stokes shares on inner wisdom and surviving food cravings.

Renegade Water Secrets with Angela Stokes, raw foodist, teacher and expert on raw food weight loss.

Kevin: How can someone tune in to that sort of inner wisdom when it comes to health? Because I think a lot of people they deny the fact that maybe the answers are coming to them. How can someone tune?

Angela: Yeah, I think that's a great point. Something that I wrote about in my most recent book "Raw Emotions" , is the difference between mind hunger and actual hunger, true hunger coming from your stomach. I think that's a really key thing to start trying to tune into on this path. Because it can be really, really confusing when we first go raw especially. Where are these messages coming from? It's like your body is being riddled. For most people, for so many years, with foods that the body cannot recognize, it doesn't know what to do with them. And so you've got all of the remnants of those things floating around and your body is trying to make sense of everything. Then you start to put in the foods that are actually nourishing you and yet you still have this old waste in there and it's just like this big quagmire of messages floating around and you don't know how to make sense of things. It seems like your body is asking for bread. Where is that coming from? So trying to tune in to the difference between the mind hunger and the true hunger, the true desires of the body, and being clear that what the mind wants isn't necessarily always healthy for the body.

The body is almost like a machine. You can kind of think of it as it's always working towards optimal health. That's what the body is all about. It just wants to take things to the next level all the time. But the mind, the mind is like out there playing all kinds of games. The mind wants to eat this, and have fun with that, it's like it sees food like entertainment. And so trying to tune in to those differences is really, really key. So maybe if you're feeling something and you feel like, "this is like hunger," just try and get quiet with yourself and feel into it. "Am I actually, physically hungry right now? Is there a feeling in my stomach, a pulling, an actual physical ready for something to eat feeling?" That's what hunger is, it's not something in your mind saying, "I must eat that Snickers bar right now." And that's another easy way to tell where the hunger is coming from.

Are you actually fixated on something, on one particular thing? "I have to have that piece of chocolate cake." Or a bowl of popcorn, it has to be a bowl of popcorn. Or are you just hungry and you'll eat anything within whatever limits you've defined for yourself? You know, anything raw vegan or vegan or whatever it is. In this moment would you be willing to eat a piece of watermelon rather than that piece of chocolate cake? Are you actually physically hungry, physically ready for food?

Because when you look at things logically there's a big difference between that mind hunger and the physical hunger. People are just so addicted to food and so used to using foods for comfort and for entertainment and all these kinds of things. And when you look at it logically, it starts to not make that much sense. Let's take someone, maybe someone 100 pounds overweight, and they say, "I need to have some chips or something." Where is that need actually coming from, this supposed need? This person is 100 pounds overweight. They have 100 extra pounds of stored energy sitting on their body. They don't need those chips for energy any more than a cigarette smoker needs to smoke cigarettes to physiologically find the place where they optimally balance out nutritionally. It's got nothing to do with that. It's all to do with nutrition. Biologically your body is not asking for nicotine or alcohol or refined sugar, you know? But your mind, yes. Your mind might be very interested in those things and you might have become physiologically addicted to those things to the point where your not having them, you're going through withdrawal. So it's a complex thing. Addictions have all these different elements to them, primarily the physiological addiction and the psychological addiction. And with food addictions especially people have both of those elements going on and that's why we get so trapped in them, because you're physiologically addicted to these things and you also have so many patterns around eating, around using food for entertainment and comfort and all those kinds of things.

Kevin: So Angela, I imagine that, a lot of people did ask about cravings, but I imagine that what you just mentioned is probably the best technique that you've used to get through cravings. Is that the technique that you've used for success?

Angela: Yeah, definitely. And when I sense something like hunger I just ask myself gently, just ask a few questions. When did I last eat? Am I actually ready to eat something else right now? Have I drunk much water today? That's a big part of it for a lot of people they're really just dehydrated. And if they just drank some water instead of eating something, and then wait half an hour, they might find that that thing that seems like it was desperate hunger has dissipated. If not, and it's intensified, then great, you really know that you're hungry and you also had some great water. Everyone can always use more water.

There's so many ways of handling cravings other than eating. And that's really the largest part of what "Raw Emotions" is about. Giving people the tools to step away from the foods, to step away from the food as the crutch in life, for getting through anything and everything whether it's ups or downs in life, reaching out to that food. There's so much more to life than reaching out for food as your answer to everything. I made these fridge magnets and it says on them, "The answer is not in the fridge." For people who have these kinds of issues around food it's like that's the answer, just reach out to the fridge, grab something to eat and then sedate yourself in some kind of way and then supposedly everything's okay. But of course it never is. You end up, if you're like me, 300 pounds and the very thing that you've been trying to use to block out life brings you so many added issues on top of everything.

So there's massive and massive tips in "Raw Emotions" of ways to handle cravings, from simple things like I was saying of drinking water and asking yourself a few questions to aromatherapy. Aromatherapy can be wonderful for people. Feed your other senses other than feeding yourself through your mouth.

Apparently vanilla is really wonderful for people to smell vanilla instead of going and eating something. Get more active. A lot of people are very sedentary these days in the kind of world that we live in. Get physically active. Get out there and exercise, get the endorphins flowing. Get active in your community. Start doing service work for people. Get out of the patterns that you're in that just aren't serving you and start doing something different. If you just keep doing the same thing you're going to keep getting the same result. So step away from the food as the answer to everything and broaden out your horizons and connect with other people. Maybe start writing a diary or writing a blog. Connect with other raw foodists and the community on the Internet.

Kevin: And what do you think, is it mindset that's most important or is it protocol? Like say raw food or whatever it is. Where would you rank mindset? Is it 50 percent, 100 percent? Or raw food, is it 10 percent of the whole package? How does that rank in your mind for someone who's successful?

Angela: I believe the feelings that we have about what we eat, it's as important as what we're putting in our mouths if not more so, because we create our reality with our thoughts. You can be eating 100 percent raw foods, the best food on the planet, grow your own garden, gorgeous stuff, and if you're not feeling good about it when it goes into your body, you're really not doing yourself that many favors. If you're taking that stuff into your body and you're feeling shame and guilt and these questions of, "Am I eating too much? I've had five cashews too many today." And all those kind of mind games that people might play with themselves, that to me does not strike me as a healthy place to be with your overall well-being. That just doesn't sound like a place of balance and happiness and moderation. What I'm really aiming with the work of "Raw Emotions" is to help them just get to a point of happy maintenance with what they're doing, whether they're 100 percent raw or 50 percent raw or whatever percent is raw they're eating. That's just part of the picture. The food is just part of the picture and there's so much more to fill in besides that. Just finding that place of happy moderation and consistency where you're not bingeing and you're not having crazy ups and downs with mood swings or anything, you're just having a stable, happy life. And I would much rather see someone eating 70 percent raw and they're happy than they're eating 100 percent raw and they're totally neurotic, they're bouncing off the walls and they're freaking out. There was some tamari in something they ate or something like that.

So, the food sure helps. Eating primarily fresh, raw food without question eating that kind of stuff instead of eating Twinkies and whatever else, is definitely going to help. It's like you're kind of half the way there by getting away from the really disastrous, processed, chemical foods and getting things coming into your body that are straight from nature. That just makes plain, obvious sense. But then on top of that, beyond the physical level of food going into your body, calories in, calories out, there's a lot more to pay attention to. And I really go into that a lot in my books, getting people to just look back through their own history. What has my relationship with food actually been like? Because so few people actually do that.

There's such a disconnect between what goes into our bodies and what we think and feel about that, and the kind of health that we have. And it's absolutely underlined by the health systems that most of us experience where you go to some kind of mainstream doctor and the guidance will be, "Well just eat less and exercise more. Go on a diet." There's almost never any attention put on the emotional side of what's happening to people beyond that physical level. It's always just this emphasis on, "Just eat less and exercise more. It's obvious." And then people, it just adds to feelings of shame for people. So I really don't find that a useful approach.
About the Author
To read the rest of this transcript as well as access The Renegade Roundtable experts just like Angela Stokes please click here! Kevin Gianni is an internationally recognized health advocate, author & film consultant. He has helped thousands of people take control of their own health naturally. For more information visit raw food diets and holistic nutrition.
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