The “What else?” question prompts us to delve deeper into the roots of our cravings and explore alternative ways to satisfy our desires
IN previous installments, we discussed what cravings could mean and strategies for dealing with them. We introduced the idea of pausing and observing how these urges manifest within our bodies, and discussed a paradigm shift, where rather than regarding cravings as enemies to be gotten rid of, we view them as opportunities to learn about our physical/emotional state, granting us greater awareness and empowerment in addressing our needs.
Another helpful tool to use when addressing cravings is the “What else?” strategy.
The “What else?” question prompts us to delve deeper into the roots of our cravings and explore alternative ways to satisfy our desires. For example, if we find ourselves craving ice cream, we might ask, “What else could offer that cold, refreshing satisfaction?” We might consider healthier options that provide similar pleasure, such as some frozen fruit or a frozen yogurt with natural sweetness.
Similarly, when the craving is for something sweet like candy, the question, “What else?” guides us to consider alternative sources of sweetness that align with our health goals, such as naturally sweetened fruit strips or some fresh mango or watermelon.
The “What else?” question isn’t about finding a perfect replacement or duplicate taste for the specific craving. Instead, we aim to cultivate a mindset of “good enough.” We seek alternatives that satisfy our needs adequately without being a perfect replica of the food we are craving.
Emotionally driven cravings also benefit from the “What else?” inquiry. When seeking comfort through food, asking “What else?” encourages us to consider alternative ways of soothing ourselves. Instead of turning to a particular dish, we might find comfort in a heartfelt conversation with a friend or spouse, listening to an inspiring shiur/podcast, or davening.
If the craving arises from feelings of loneliness, the “What else?” question prompts us to seek alternative remedies. We can consider engaging in a creative hobby, writing in a journal, or using the loneliness as a stimulus for self-reflection and personal growth.
Cravings are commonly caused by physical exhaustion. Here, too, the “What else?” question can help us address our needs in alternative ways. If we’re craving a specific food to boost our energy levels, asking “What else?” can lead us to explore other options, such as a natural electrolyte drink, a quick exercise routine, or a short rest.
It’s important to understand that the “What else?” question is not imperative to avoid eating whatever we are craving. We weigh our options and consider various choices before deciding on the best course of action. Sometimes, the answer might be that there is nothing else that would satisfy us at that moment, and that’s perfectly okay.
For example, we might be craving macaroni and cheese. We pause, notice the craving, and ask ourselves, “What else?” Sometimes, though, the answer might be: Nothing else! We might feel stressed and overwhelmed and crave the frozen cookie dough in our freezer, and after asking "What else," conclude that there aren’t any other viable options right now.
By incorporating the “What else?” mindset, we move away from rigid black-and-white thinking, and embrace a spectrum of choices. This shift empowers us to navigate our cravings with flexibility, fostering a healthier relationship with food and ourselves.
Even when the “What else?” query leads to no other immediate options, it provides us with an opportunity for mindful eating.
Stay tuned for more insights on mindful eating, and continue to embrace your cravings with curiosity, consciousness, and choices.
Shira Savit, MA, MHC, INHC is a mental health counselor and integrative nutritionist who specializes in emotional eating, binge eating, and somatic nutrition. Shira works both virtually and in person in Jerusalem.
Make It Last
“Shaming someone into action creates action. Inspiring someone into action creates change.”
Change… you can almost pick it up in the air this time of year. As the leaves change colors, we, too, think of turning over a new leaf. We create a long list of desired changes, bursting with promise, but often all we’re left with is a limp document of failed attempts.
How can we do it better this time? How can we channel the koach of renewal, so vibrant, alive, and ripe, and transform it into lasting change?
It’s possible we misconstrue charatah, regret, for shame. And when we journey down that road we can get sucked into the vortex of despair and give up. Guilt and shame can work as temporary motivators, but ultimately, they disappoint; they are limited in their capacity to infuse ratzon and drive.
A much more effective means of creating change is to inspire. When we hold a vision before us, we can walk toward it. When we create motivation, we fuel desire (ratzon), which is one of the most powerful forces in the world. When the heart desires something, it’s so much easier to bring the mind, body, and soul on board.
This is true in dealing with others, and even more so in dealing with ourselves. When we shame ourselves into change, we may temporarily exhibit new, more elevated behaviors. But if we are still mired in shame, the new behavior won’t be consistent with our internal landscape, and eventually, we’ll drop it.
If, however, our changes come because we’re inspired by greatness, either ours or someone else’s, we will want to stay great. The behavior and the feeling match, so we hold on to it. And that action creates real and lasting change.
Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW, is a licensed therapist, Directed Dating coach and certified Core Mentor.
One Step at a Time
The key to permanent change and growth is based in good habits. In Hebrew, the words for habit and consistency are hergel and ikviut. The roots of these words are regel — foot, and ekev — heel.
We know that a person may feel a strong desire to go somewhere, but the desire alone won’t actually get him anywhere. When he picks up his feet and actually starts walking, that’s when the movement takes place.
The same idea applies to metaphysical movement; our desire for change. We can cry about our desire to be better, we can think about it a lot, but only when we actually do something, and plug into the power of habit and consistency to keep doing it, will we see the real, lasting change we wish for.
Dina Schoonmaker has been teaching in Michlalah Jerusalem College for over 30 years. She gives women’s vaadim and lectures internationally on topics of personal development.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 859)
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