Desire, Craving and Preference




Whenever you eat any food you don’t really need, what you’ve done is to satisfy your addictive desire to eat. No blame intended here; it’s just that when we name it we can make progress. As you may know from my books, taking control of overeating is the process of releasing and healing this desire for excess food.

It’s likely you’ll always satisfy some addictive desire, on some occasions, to some extent. But if you could manage to satisfy it less often – maybe a lot less often – that would deliver the results you want. Assuming, of course, it lasts long term.

A first step is to recognise addictive desire when it’s happening. Whenever I ask my groups about this, I tend to receive responses that describe addictive desire as an overwhelming, persistent and intense craving. There are two things I can explain about this that could be useful.

First of all, this is not so much a description of addictive desire, but a strong sense of deprivation that surrounds it. It arises from the negativity and rebellion that’s created when choice is denied. Even while using the word ‘choice’, many still deny it in a variety of ways. This denial of choice – what I refer to as Prohibitive Thinking – creates the dramatic negativity, especially (although not exclusively) around the experience of desire. This is, of course, counterproductive, and evaporates as soon as a true connection with choice has been made.

My second point is that a stronger, more obvious experience of addictive desire is typically only present when cutting back on eating, on a diet for example. While you are going ahead eating whatever it is whenever you feel like it, it’s likely you won’t be aware of what it is that’s driving your actions. The desire is unconscious and maybe even the eating is unconscious too.

So yes, the addictive desire can be an overwhelming, persistent craving if you think in a prohibitive way. But if that’s all it is to you, you’re going to miss those more subtle thoughts.


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