In early recovery we hate cravings. We pray for them to be removed. We do everything to distract ourselves from them. As our recovery continues we generally lose the cravings for alcohol or drugs. But food? —That’s another story.
Issues with food addictions typically come as chemical addictions start to resolve. We stop drinking and start eating, or an underlying eating disorder pops up when the pills or cocaine goes away. We try everything to mask it. We focus on work or exercise or different food and special diets, or we get into a relationship.
But food cravings are there. We struggle and we joke. We laugh about them with friends, and we suffer the shame of them when alone. We want those cravings to go away!
But what if the cravings are a message? What if food cravings are a map? What if they are a map to buried treasure?
That’s what Alexandra Jamieson is writing about in her new book, “Women, Food and Desire.” Jamieson is a holistic nutrition coach, and co-star of the award-winning documentary, Super Size Me. She’s written a bunch of cookbooks and a handbook on vegan eating, but now she adds a study of the emotions and neuroscience to her healthy eating recipe.
What makes this a worthwhile read is that she talks primarily about food cravings but she includes cravings for sex, sleep and selfhood as well. Yes, holistic—we want all those things. Her book has remedies based on your craving type (there’s a cool online quiz on her website) and her message is about not pushing cravings down and away but facing them and following them to unearth the real desires in our life: love, affection, affiliation and meaningful work—and steps to take to a life outside the bag of chips or the box of chocolates.
This is definitely not a process for newcomers who are facing down a drug or alcohol recovery, but definitely is a process for those of us with long-term recovery. We can face the feelings and embrace the cravings and follow them to greater growth and the things we really want that are never found in the kitchen.