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I've become interested in Buddhism a couple of months ago, and I try to meditate daily, which had very positive effects on my anxiety and overall feeling so far.

I am prone to feeling overwhelming cravings for unhealthy, sugary food. Although the intensity of the cravings has been reduced since I started meditating, it is still a significant problem. I wonder if there is any specific practice which could help with that. I tried reading texts about the elimination of sensual cravings, but unfortunately they all focused primarily on sexual desire and not on craving for food.

If someone could enlighten me on the topic, I would be very thankful. :)

  • What goes through your mind & how do you feel after you "binged"? Absolutes à la "Overcoming all food cravings" might be a bit unrealistic at the beginning stage. – Val Jan 3 at 12:15
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Sexual desire and the craving for food both fall under the umbrella domain of sensual desire, which can be countered with various different strategies as highlighted in MN 20

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Sexual desire and the craving for food both fall under the umbrella domain of sensual desire, which can be countered with the strategy highlighted in MN 19, namely, "This leads to my own affliction/harm".

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Glad to hear that meditation had good results on your anxiety. Keep up the good work!

As already mentioned, there are various suttas that deal with sensual cravings such as MN 19 & MN 20.

You can periodically reflect on the advantages & disadvantages of your food craving (both short & long term). Vividly imagine the costs of it.

Then, you also better be prepared that cravings might still arise. When they arise I have a couple of steps that might help you:

  1. Recognize the urge/thought & perhaps spot the location in your body. If you're not aware of the urge, you're much more likely to give in.

  2. Realize that it's not a life necessity to give in immediately (this gives you a break from the thought-action fusion)

  3. Keep in mind that you have a choice: To act upon your urge or to refrain. Here it is important that eating sometimes chocolate etc. might not be in conflict with your long-term goals & as humans we often also have short-term goals/desires that want to be met. Be specific with your goals & guard yourself against rationalizations

  4. If you decided to refrain, counter any "positives for giving in"/"negatives for not giving in" & keep in mind of your goal. This step is particularly important so that you balance your thoughts so that they have a lesser hold on your decision-making.

  5. Don't spend too much times with the 4. point and accept that urges will reside for a while in the mind, and will fade if you allow them to be there without resistance or clinging. In a word "let them be".

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Another strategy might be "seclusion" perhaps -- deciding to not have the object of craving nearby can help to develop a new habit.

That might be as simple as, "stop buying it, so you don't have it in the house with you".

It's easier to be moral briefly ("I won't buy that because it's not good") when you're at the shop once a week, than it is to keep it nearby and overcome cravings throughout the week including during weaker moments.

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  • While this is a good start, it's not an elegant solution in my opinion. An addict for example must necessarily learn to deal with internal & external triggers. So one better expose oneself with a method such as "challenging, but not overwhelming", if feasible. It would be preferable that we learn,philosophically to the core you could say, that Life is sometimes uncomfortable; that it's not life necessary to give in; and lastly: That one can bear discomfort, and that it's worth bearing because of one's goals and ideals. – Val Jan 3 at 12:01
  • For me it was the only feasible way to quit cigarettes, for example. Having quit for a while, reprogrammed, learned a new habit, then I can afford to be exposed without being "overwhelmed" by craving. I've also used that method to change my daily/weekly food diet. While the OP might "overwhelmed" by craving, if that's e.g. only for 5 minutes at a time, or only after midnight, then having to go to the shop instead of going to the fridge is like a safety valve. You still have to decide, consciously, but you couldn't be defeated by a craving which is only momentary. – ChrisW Jan 3 at 12:12
  • Yes, your approach is still helpful, but often people resort to other unhealthy escapes (which is all too human of course), which have other unhealthy consequences, and all too often the "alternative behaviour" cannot always be practised (if it's healthy let's say). And as I mentioned, cravings can arise even if there is no external visible trigger. But surely your approach might also work and I liked your last sentence in particular. In the end it must help, and that's for everyone different. Best wishes. – Val Jan 3 at 12:20
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Mindfulness in eating takes several forms. For example there is the meal chant:

Wisely reflecting, I use this food not for fun, not for pleasure, not for fattening, not for beautification, but only for the maintenance and nourishment of this body, for keeping it healthy, for helping with the Spiritual Life; Thinking thus, I will allay hunger without overeating, so that I may continue to live blamelessly and at ease.

And there is eating at the right time:

AN10.99:18.2: They eat in one part of the day, abstaining from eating at night and food at the wrong time.

And there is non-identification with food:

MN62:11.8: This should be truly seen with right understanding like this: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’

Studying the suttas, one learns about the nature of craving and its escape. These lessons are universal. Indeed, we find that:

SN42.11:2.11: ... desire is the root of suffering.

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For me, I find it very helpful to say that I have a craving, (acknowledging that it is present), that usually starts an irregular breathing pattern, then starts an anxiety and change of heart rate, I acknowledge that it to is present, then restart my normal breathing patterns, regulate my heart rate back down and steady then, (say out loud or in thought loudly), this to shall pass, I will overcome this craving!! Doing this can help you become aware of your true intention when making decisions,(why and for whom am I making this a point for me?)

Try this: Ask yourself everyday all day long, and when not asking yourself this question, be Thankful for everything!!!!!!

What is it I am basing my decisions and actions on.? Me. Or. We. ( Understand that We can be you and the collective of any and all things) Don't forget to be Thankful that your hand can reach out from your mind and touch everything around you. It helps to actually allow yourself to hear you say it as much as possible!!!!!

Hope this helps!!!!! (Healing Drum)

P.S. don't forget URok!!!!

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My dear friend. Aware your food craving...this is fantastic for knowing craving. You can go deep and deep.

How to arise food craving. For example Thoughts is responsible for lust craving. Thoughts condition lust craving.

Thought depends memory

Knowing all structure .. This is awareness.

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I had a monster midnight chicken curry craving season in 2016. I was beginning to understand the secrets of the world back then. I became fat and thought my liver will never help me lose weight.

In late 2019, I lost weight after I discovered thst you can make cheap tomato soup out of spaghetti sauce with a tin of hot water. I now can wear a men’s 32.

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