How to tell the difference between intuition and cravings
One person may be craving almonds while another person may be getting intuitive guidance to eat almonds. Let's look at how these two different people will behave:
Eating Really Fast – A Sign of Cravings
If you're craving almonds, you'll feel inclined to eat them quickly, and now. If you're getting an intuitive feeling from your body, you won't feel in a rush. If you're craving almonds, you'll find it hard to chew them all the way before putting more in your mouth. If you're intuitively guided to eat almonds, you'll find it easy and relaxing to chew them thoroughly.
Cravings give a false sense of urgency. Your intuition knows you have plenty of time.
Eating Lightly – A Sign of Intuitive Connection
When you're in touch with your body, you'll find you don't need to eat as much. You'll feel inclined to eat more slowly and chew more thoroughly, which will allow you to absorb more from what you eat. Also, you'll eat exactly what you need, making your body more efficient. Being in touch will also result in less stress, causing you to burn less calories and nutrients in the metabolic processes of stress itself. All of this will result in a much lighter load.
Cravings are easily identified by their need for large volumes. When you feel inclined to eat an entire jar of cashew butter or an entire carton of coconut yogurt in one sitting, that's a sign that you're experiencing a craving.
Cravings versus Intuition
Cravings, at their root, come from emotional destitution. The sense of 'I'm lacking something,' at an emotional level quickly translates to lacking something on the physical level. One simple example of this is how stress burns up nutrients and creates metabolic waste. So when you're feeling like you're not getting enough support (i.e. experiencing a sense of lack, also known as taṇhā), and this causes you stress, you start to burn through your reserves of vitamin B12 and other nutrients. This, in turn, causes you to intensely crave whatever foods you've eaten most recently which contain some amount of the nutrients you're burning through.
You can go indulge in your craving for a quick fix, but the chances are that your cravings will jerk you around in very inefficient ways. It may be that you need omega-3, sodium, an array of minerals, and vitamin B12, and so you have French fries with cheese and extra salt. You'll get a little of all of those things, but in the long run, you'll be depleting even more resources. You'll run out of your limited supply of lipase enzyme which you use to digest fat, for example, and so if after the French fries you eat some lean fish or flax oil which contain a more useful supply of fat, you'll not yet have restored the lipase supply and miss out on a better source of nutrition.
The cheese will also add to your overall toxin load, creating further need for antioxidants in your body. The table salt will not have appropriately balanced minerals, causing you to need even more minerals. And the amount of B12 will be so minimal as to not be enough to compensate for severe stress.
So as you can see, your craving makes sense, but it is overall not helpful to indulge in. A analytical, left-brained approach to this issue is to learn the root need at the physical level and address that. If you analyze your craving for French fries with cheese and realize that, indeed, you're lacking in healthy fats, an array of minerals including sodium, and vitamin B12, you might to instead choose to have a salad with flax oil, Hawai'ian sea salt (which is red) or Himalayan salt (which is pink), and a sprinkle of B12-enriched nutritional yeast.
If you make this logical choice in response to your cravings, you may notice that you still have an emotional need that was not met by the salad. Perhaps you wanted the feeling of your teeth sinking into hot, oily fries because that sensation you associate with safety and being loved, which is precisely what is missing and making you feel stressed out in your day-to-day life right now. This is where consciousness alchemy comes in – tools to help get you more in touch with your body, your feelings, your repressed desires, your needs, and your intuition.
Intuitive choices arise from feeling your deepest truth about your needs. The more choices you make from an intuitive place, the more your life seems to flow naturally and easily from one good thing to the next. Intuition brings a sense of zen to your work and a sense of meaning to your life. Intuitive choices feel so good because they are born out of an integrated view of yourself.
Cravings come from small, isolated parts of you without the benefit of input from your whole committee of self. This is why you feel stupid when you look back at what you ate yesterday. You think to yourself, "I knew if I ate that I would feel terrible today, so why did I do it?" You did it because you were selectively identified with a small part of you, and not hearing the whole of yourself; you were not hearing the part of you that was saying, "Oh no, please don't do that. It'll hurt tomorrow!" This is what happens when you are not on speaking terms with yourself.
Intuition becomes stronger as you integrate yourself and as you listen to it. It is like a muscle that gets stronger with use. Every time you listen to your intuition, it becomes more clear, more strong. Every time you ignore it, it dies back and becomes more faint. This is why most people can barely hear anything at all from their intuition. If you're someone who feels taht you don't get intuitive messages from your body or emotions, you want to start out with the procedure I outline below.
Listening to your Intuition – A Beginner's Method
When you're out of touch with your intuition it takes effort to get back in touch. The 'voice' will be very faint and easily drowned out by the smallest stimuli. Even the sound of a keyboard will be enough to drown it out. Even your night-light may be too much. This is why I recommend full sensory deprivation for getting in touch with yourself. (If you get migraines, it may be because you desperately want to get in touch with your intuition, and so you're causing yourself to experience pain from all sensory input in order to force you to spend time without any sensory input.)
Here is how to meditate without sensory distraction:
Even with the best intentions, some people will still fall asleep. Try to stay awake and make notes to yourself in your mind about your experience. Narrate to yourself: "I feel warmer in my right foot than in my left food. I notice pain in my lower back. I am getting chills on my arms. I've been feeling cold all day except while I was running. I felt good while I was running. I am remembering running and enjoying that feeling. I think my body is telling me that it wishes I went for a run more regularly." You can narrate in your mind, or you can do so aloud. If you have a habit of falling asleep while meditating, then doing so aloud may be your best bet. Try to stay entirely still other than the movement required for speaking.
Do this process for at least ten minutes at a time. Ideally, do it every day. You can do it right before sleeping at night, and before you let yourself go to sleep you can take out a notebook and write down your messages to yourself so that you won't lose them overnight. If you do this before bed it is important that you use some method to ensure you maintain the integrative benefits by remembering the process consciously. This can be writing, recording, or talking with a partner.
For a crash-course in life itself and what it means to be you, do this process for three whole days. Your entire life will change. Mine sure did.
Intuitive Grocery Shopping
Once you've done the process outlined above for getting in touch with your intuition a few times, you can start using your intuition at the grocery store. For every thing your eyes land on, notice how you feel about the food. Try to ignore your judgments about whether or not the food tastes good or whether it is good for you or the planet. Just feel. Let yourself put everything that feels good in the cart. Then, before checking out, let your logic come back in and go back over your cart and try to feel and think simultaneously. This is what integration is about – your logic working together with your comprehensive, intuitive understanding of yourself.
Notice how you feel if you choose to put some things back. Do you feel highly disappointed? Do you feel betrayed or let down? Or do you feel relieved? Trust the emotion you feel when putting something back. Relief means that part of you knew that was a really bad idea, and so go ahead and leave those things at the grocery store. Resentment or disappointment indicates that you really had your heart set on it. Maybe it is a bit expensive, maybe it isn't always the best thing for you, but right now part of you is calling out for it.
If you have a conflict of logic and emotion, try not to bulldoze over one or the other. Instead, let yourself process. Yes, right there in the grocery store! Why not? What's the worst that will happen? Someone might see you crying and feel concerned? You'll be okay. Trust yourself to be capable of figuring it out right then and there. Ask yourself questions like, "If I get this item this time, will I feel good about myself tomorrow?" "Why do I want to eat this?" "Am I buying this for an emotional need or for a physical need?" "What is creating my need for this food?" "Where in my body am I desiring this food?" "What pain or consequence will I get as a result of eating this food, if any?"
Remember that your body will primarily respond with feelings. So if you ask why you want something, the response might be tingling feet. You have to be tuned-in enough to notice that your feet are tingling and then feel into that as deeply as you can. It might bring you to a memory of another time your feet were tingling, and how you were feeling at that time, for example.
As you can probably tell, intuitive grocery shopping is not something you want to do with a deadline. Give yourself hours to be in the store. It may only take you as long as usual. You may find yourself bursting through the store with child-like delight and awe as you let yourself be drawn to what feels right and good to you and you might not have to put anything back when you check in with yourself before checking out. Or, it might be a long, long process where you feel doubt and concern and waffle with yourself for a long time. Both processes are a success. Even trying to listen to yourself helps build trust and moves you close to an integrated, whole self.
Using Food To Escape
Another tell-tale sign of cravings is the need to escape from something you're experiencing. Intuition is always focused on moving toward something that you want. Cravings are often about moving away from an experience you don't want. You may experience cravings for food, for example, when you've been at your computer too long and your body is trying to tell you to get up, right now!
You might also be interested in reading: