Habits, Cravings and Urges

The major theme of my life has always been about losing weight. I have been to many, many councilors, therapist, ministers, secular weight loss groups, Christian weight loss groups. I have been convinced at times that my over eating and binging was due to anything from childhood trauma, low self esteem, to not having enough faith in God. I have always felt there was some giant flaw in my character that drove me to self destruction. Sometimes I wonder if my life time pursue of losing weight has actually made my problem with weight even bigger. Like a self fulfilled prophesy. There are groups and diets that are very effective and have produced many success stories. The fact is, there are many vehicles in the weight loss industry that lead to success. But none, are easy, or magical. But I do believe sometimes I make it harder than it has to be.

At this point, I believe the thing that initially caused me to want to eat more food has been dealt with, or has diminished. I believe the cause, years ago, created a habit. The habit caused the craving. The craving caused the strong urges. It’s the urges that is what is under all of my battles with food.

We have 2 parts to our brain. One is the realistic logical side, and the other is the primitive part of our brain. I believe I have been listening to that primitive side most of my life regarding my eating habits. Not realizing the fact that I have power over my primitive brain. It is a bit more than just telling it to shut up, or just say no. There has to be an awareness, that voice is simply a recording, not real. I have believed this lie for so many years, I actually believed it was something I could not say no to. I allowed that voice to control me because I did not believe I had power over it.  I ever had a therapist tell me one, my abuse of food, was a cushion from some deep psychological issues I had. That it was a good thing that helped me survive. In my head this gave me a license to eat. I gained 100 pounds very quickly after I started to believe this. Thinking over eating was keeping me sane, and it was OK.

My Mother was a working mother. So I spent a lot of time as a child coming home to an empty house after school. My Mother was a very brittle diabetic, she had a distorted relationship with food. There was never a surplus of food in our kitchen. Most of the time, she or my Father, stopped at the store on the way home from work to buy the groceries to make for Dinner that night. There was rarely any snack foods waiting for me when I got home. I remember being home alone, eating 4 of 6 pieces of toast covered with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, along with a giant glass of milk. It just seemed that because there was not a supply of food in the cupboards, I would binge or anything available. I believe this caused me to over eat whenever and whatever I could find. I am sure I used food to nurture my lonely heart, and since I was alone, maybe just bordom. I remember binging on left over goulash after school that my Mom had planned as a left over meal for Dinner. There are many factors that caused me as a child to eat anything and everything available because I did not feel secure about food being available. It was a natural survival reaction in my child brain.

I believe this concern caused me to eat as much as I could any time food was available. As I grew up, and got a job and place of my own, I remember how I got a sense of security, from having my own groceries in my own home. Overeating brought me security and comfort. As I grew up as an adult, the food insecurities eventually left me, I knew I had enough food in my own home.  But what stayed with me, was the urge. I had developed a strong habit that created an urge to eat.

At this point in my life, the root cause of over eating is not the thing that causes me to over eat today. What I now have is a deep habit that creates strong urges. But at some point I did not realize I had the brain power to say no to those urges that my primitive brain tells me. Addictions come from your primal brain. It is the part of your brain that goes into survival mode. I now realize I have the power to say no to my primal brain, I can tell myself it is only an urge, and it will pass. It’s simply neurological junk that I have the power to stop listening to. As I quit feeding that primitive side of my brain, that voice becomes quieter. I have not completely shut down that primal voice, but it is much better and that is how I have had a successful 133 pound weight loss as of today. I have the veto power to shut down those self destructive voices.

There are a few strategies I use to shut down those voices. So instead of analyzing some deep psychological reason I had a craving, I can tell myself I do not have to act on it. I quit obsessing on what issues I have that created this craving, it took away it’s power.

There is a lot of talk about intuitive eating. I know people who have great success with this method. That has never really worked for me. My hunger signals have nothing to do with my personal battle with food. It never really worked for me, because for me, hunger is not the problem. I have tried very hard, many times to eat when hungry and stop when full. But I rarely recognize it, and when I do, there craving to binge wins no matter how my belly feels. I am only referring to my personal experience, intuitive eating works well for some.

I am sure there are several other minor players that give me the urger to over eat. Some is habit, some is boredom, some is insecurity, and some, is my love of food and eating.

There is a book that describes a lot of what I am talking about. Brain over BingeCatherine Hanson is the author, and there are several podcast where she has been a guest. You can find them by typing “Brain over Binge”  in iTunes Podcast. This book along with another book, were the catalyst to my success at weight loss today. The other book is QBQ The Question Before the Question. It’s an excellent book about taking personal responsibility.

Some other things that were helpful in my journey to health are walking away from the shame,  becoming truly honest with myself, and adapting accountability. 

I believe the road to being successful at anything involves several components. But the more we take action on our own self discovery, the closer we get to having success. Knowledge is a good thing, but to really change, takes action on that knowledge.



Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog. I am a Baby Boomer from Nebraska blogging my way to good health. I am single, with no children, I have a little white maltese dog named Lily. Follow my journey to lose 1 pound 300 times.

4 thoughts on “Habits, Cravings and Urges

  1. Joyce

    Kathy, I’ve been following your journey, with interest. I’d like to recommend a book that is helping me. It’s called “How To Develop Self Discipline” by Martin Meadows. I ordered it for my Kindle ($3.99)

    His advice on how habits are formed and how to make new habits to replace the old ones makes a lot is sense. He speaks plainly and offers step-by-step instructions on how to change destructive patterns. I don’t have childhood issues or trauma, I just developed bad habits when it came to food and (lack of) exercise. I’ve now been working out at a gym (with a small group of women and a trainer) for a year. I’m 66 and walk with a cane. Because of spinal stenosis and facet joint disease, many of the exercises have been modified for me; I do a lot of them sitting on a stability ball, but keep up with the group. While my back is better and I’ve gained strength and muscle mass, I didn’t lose a significant amount of weight. The above mentioned book, along with MyFitnessPal app on my Kindle (free) have helped me start losing. I have at least 70# left to go.

    Good luck, Kathy. I’m rooting for you. Joyce

    • Kathleen

      Thanks for sharing Joyce! I will certenaly put that book on my list. I’m glad you are getting stronger! I am on My Fitness Pal, in fact I just got 450 consecutive days in last week. If you care to be my friend on MGP, my name on there is Totalkathy. Feel free to friend me. I have my food tracker open for all my friends to see. It’s part of my accountability. Thanks for the kind message! Blessings!

  2. Dee

    Hello lovely…another thought provoking and insightful post, thank you! I’m going to look at the books you recommended, I love to read around things which have the power to help us on this journey down the scale. I won’t sully your page with a fruity word but you already know what I call that voice in my own head!!
    I’m glad things are going well for you 🙂

    • Kathleen

      Dee, I love how you always keep it real, in few words! I also love your UK slang. Sully? I need to use that one! Thanks for being my friend!

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