How to Comfort Cravings

About 8:00 pm many years ago, I suddenly had a craving for peanut butter. I wasn’t hungry but wanted the taste of peanut butter for some reason.

It felt uncomfortable, as if I couldn’t stand it.

In the middle of that discomfort, a question came to me. It was a simple question, but it gave me a new angle to comfort my cravings that surprised me.

This 1 question can help you comfort your cravings too.

Here was the question I asked myself:

What else can I do to make my body more comfortable at this moment?”

You see, many of us run to food whenever we feel uncomfortable in our bodies.

It is a habit that we have established well through repeated practice.

But the truth is that we are really just craving comfort. And there are many ways to obtain comfort besides eating.

Here is how I walked through managing my craving with the comfort strategy:

After I asked the question and checked where my body was uncomfortable, I realized that I had a sour taste in my mouth.

So I went to brush my teeth to get rid of the sour taste.

Then I asked myself a follow-up question: “Did that help?”

I answered myself, “Yes, it did.”

Next, I went back to the original question: “Is there anything else I can do to make myself more comfortable?”

After checking in with my body, I found that I was also hot.

So I got a washcloth and wet it with cool water. Then I wiped off my face, ears and the back of my neck to cool myself off.

I asked myself again, “Did that help?”

“Yes, it did.”

Finally, I asked myself the comfort question again: “What else would make me more comfortable at this moment?”

I realized that my bra was feeling restrictive.

So I took it off.

I asked myself, “Did that help?”

“Yes, it did.”

The funny thing was, after I made myself more physically comfortable through exploring the real sources of my discomfort, I did not crave the peanut butter anymore!

Remember that you have 5 senses, not just taste.

Whenever you have a craving but are not hungry, do not grab for food immediately. Instead, consider the other 4 senses you have.

Ensure that the problem is not discomfort arising from another sense, such as your smell, touch, vision, or hearing.

Here are various things that you can do to implement the comfort strategy, along with the discomfort they can resolve:

  • Brush your teeth – taste discomfort
  • Drink a glass of water – taste discomfort (dry mouth)
  • Sniff essential oils – smell discomfort
  • Wipe yourself off with a cool or warm washcloth – skin discomfort
  • Take a shower or bath – skin discomfort
  • Remove bra, shoes, or tight clothing – skin discomfort
  • Clip your fingernails or toenails – skin discomfort
  • Shave – skin discomfort
  • Wash your hair – (itchy scalp) skin discomfort
  • Lotion your skin – (itchy skin) skin discomfort
  • Massage your feet or sore muscles – muscle discomfort
  • Stretching – muscle discomfort
  • Change your sitting or standing position – general body discomfort
  • Get a hug or hug yourself – general body discomfort
  • Go to a quiet place – hearing discomfort
  • Listen to relaxing music – hearing discomfort
  • Close your eyes – visual discomfort
  • Watching video of relaxing scenes – visual discomfort
  • Use eye drops – eye discomfort (dry eyes)
  • Use nose spray – nose discomfort (sinus or allergy issues)

If you are unsure of the  discomfort source, you can always ask the Lord in prayer. He promises:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).

Try the comfort cravings strategy the next time you have a craving without hunger. Be willing to keep asking the question and address the source rather than covering it up with food.

Your body will thank you!

About the author 

Kimberly Taylor

Kimberly Taylor is a certified Christian life coach and has a heart to help others struggling with emotional eating and weight loss. Once 240 pounds and a size 22, she can testify of God’s goodness and healing power to overcome. She lost 85 pounds as a result of implementing techniques to overcome emotional eating and binge eating disorder.

Kim is the author of "The Take Back Your Temple Program," which teaches Christians how to take control of their weight God's way and the books "The Weight Loss Scriptures" and "The Weight Loss Prayers."

Kim has been featured in Prevention Magazine, Charisma Magazine and on CBN’s 'The 700 Club' television program.

  • Wow so one day I knew I wasn’t hungry but ate something anyway. Now I don’t have to eat something juts look to see what is really going on. Learning to run to God instead of food.

  • Thank you Kimberly for this article. I struggled all last week with depression and binge eating as a way to comfort myself.
    I will use your list this week and find other ways to comfort myself.
    Trusting Jesus to help me through my situation.
    God bless you!

    • Excellent, Vickie – it takes practice to make this practice second nature, but I know you will find it a better way to meet your needs rather than bury them under food. God will help you every step of the way!

  • That was really helpful, thank you for that. I know I run to food whenever I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed. I will begin going through this process on a daily so that I can learn other ways to comfort myself. I would also like to stop eating at a certain and have not be successful, prayerfully this will be the key.

    • Hi Sherice – the key is to cultivate a teachable Spirit, to commit to continuing to grow, change, and develop. Being patient and kind to yourself in the process. Recognize that the Lord has begun a good work in you and has committed to completing it. For that reason, refuse to give up on yourself too!

  • Kim, I have read most or some of this before, but this morning I read it with a freshness like it was the first time. Thanks for the helpful insight. I have always ran to food as a comfort for any discomfort.
    I thank God, I am a continual willingness to learn
    A disciple of Christ always.

    • That is good to hear, Jackie! When you take care of your REAL needs, then food can regain its proper place in your life 🙂

  • Hi Kimberly, I’m enjoying your blog, Thankyou for writing it. It’s seems to me that every woman with a weight problem suffers the same things. So thanks.
    I hope I’m being helpful when I say that it’s best to avoid aromatherapy as it has occult roots. I work with a ministry call who have books on this subject and courses if your interested.
    Keep up the good work and God bless you

    • Hi Sandra – thank you for your comment and perspective! Concerning aromatherapy, I advise each person to walk according to the law of liberty as stated in Romans 14:1-13. The most important thing is to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If a person is convinced that they should not use essential oils, then they should not it. For myself, I praise God for the scents he created and use lavender in my bathwater without conviction. I do appreciate you for reminding us to ensure all of your choices glorify God and that we take heed that we stand, lest we fall.

    • Exactly, Lyn – Your needs are real and burying them under food rather than addressing them just makes life harder than it needs to be. God bless you!

  • Thank you this was a practical Article with some great suggestions when that thought pops in my mind
    And I am not hungry. I noticed once I start I can’t stop myself.

    • You are welcome, Denise – keep a teachable spirit and focus on adapting to what you learn. You will succeed with God’s help!

  • Such a brilliant article. Part of my issue is laziness…just let me eat this because I can’t be bothered doing anything else. Which probably has something to do with tiredness!

  • I’ve received your emails for years and it seems that whenever I’m struggling, you write at just the right moment. I never really thought about my body being uncomfortable but yes! And although I struggle with not eating enough, this self comfort strategy is SO helpful. I’ve been practicing it for the past several nights and finding that I do have the power to make myself more comfortable. I also have the power to nourish myself and eat. God is beside me and it doesn’t have to be scary. When I’m comfortable I can eat more easily. It’s often terrifying to start eating because I am so hungry and it feels as if I’ll never be able to stop but asking myself what else I might need has really helped calm this fear. Extreme hunger is no fun and while I need food, I’m certain that I also just need comfort. Thank you so very much for this article.Take Care ~~Holly
    P.S. and other Bible verses that might go along with self comfort and fear of eating/not being able to stop/difficulty nourishing my own body?

  • Hi.. I was wondering when it’s a powerful smell or look of something that is appealing and more than emotions. I find it difficult to pull away or not want something if it shows up or smell it then it becomes powerful… basically my mind and emotions become screwed. What can I do to help these strong desires? Thank you

  • Kimberly I just want to let you know how grateful I am that God blessed you with this ministry. I’m gonna try this comfort craving strategy.

    • Please do, Karen! You will find that when you match the need with the appropriate comfort, you’ll be more satisfied in the long run!

  • Good article on craving comfort. I find that living a life of celibacy (Christian) after being very sexual before I got saved. I oft times am craving male affection & intimacy. I didn’t realize this until I started fasting and asking the good Lord for guidance. I prayed and asked him to calm my hormones if it’s not in his plan for my life to be married. He has proven to be more than faithful to what we trust and concecrate to him.

    • Praise God, Nature – He is faithful as we walk this journey out with Him…one day at a time, one choice at a time.

  • I never would have related body discomfort to overeating…this is constructive & extremely important facets of self care that are often times ignored in my life as triggers to reach for a comforting food item. Thank you!

  • I would add to my previous comment: Apologize – to family, friend, or God – if you’re emotionally undone (and craving emotional comfort in food) by a recent mean streak and/or spat…or simply your “out-of-line” comment/action/attitude. Much better to swallow our pride than to hold guilt and eat (poorly) in order to ease our conscience.

  • As I read this I am reminded to use parallel tools to deal with EMOTIONAL discomfort that may be inciting me to eat at an inappropriate time or to consume inappropriate food. In other words, if I find myself craving…whoa… what’s going on? Do I feel anxious, guilty, angry, disappointed, hurt, lonely, sad, bored, sleepy? What would I recommend to a friend struggling with these emotions? Can I pray? Journal? Love on a pet? Take a quick shower? Call a friend for a quick chat? Take a walk? Step outside and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors for five minutes? Rub my temples or neck? Sing a song that I like or just listen to uplifting music? Do some light stretching or dance through one song on the radio? Change tasks for a bit (until my mind is in a better place)? Yes. And often, doing so stops the craving. Thank you, Kimberly. . Again!

  • I remember you posted this once a long time ago and it really spoke to me then. I think it is one of the major things that really helped me, then I forgot it! Thank you so much for posting this again!

  • What a unique strategy. I’ve never heard this before but it makes total sense, thank you Kim. I will be using this and passing it along to others too. Sherry M.

  • I will definitely give this a try regarding physical needs. I find many times it is emotional stress from work, a long day, unfinished tasks, being tired mentally and physically and food becomes a comfort or a source of energy to help me make it across the finish line when my energy is low… however, it can be come a vicious, daily cycle that caused health and financial strain.

  • My cravings are mid afternoon , someone told me that’s when our blood sugar is low, I just need to eat a little fruit but it’s not the crunch im looking for in that a cookie gives . I do fine for a couple weeks then I just have to have a choc. Chip cookie or brownie, I’d covert you prayers to get through.
    I’m soo blessed to know others struggle & I’ m not alone.
    Sometimes it’s I’m tired when I get the cravings . Thank y’all for your encouraging thoughts .

    • Hi Gail – you have my prayers. Here are a couple of things to consider about your cravings, based on what you told me:

      * You said you “have to have” a chocolate cookie or brownie. “Have to have” implies a fear that something bad will happen if you don’t. Is that really true? If so, what bad thing do you believe will happen if you don’t?

      * You said that you often have cravings when you are tired. So that means that your body needs rest. Are there other ways that would help your body get rest?

      As I mentioned in the article, sometimes we train ourselves to reach for food whenever our body feels uncomfortable without thinking if there are alternatives to make ourselves feel better.

      • Kimberley you are always ON POINT and your articles are an effective blessing and way back to right living. I have a typed out sheet(s) of bible verses specific for my own weight loss underlying issues which, as I declare every night/day is helping me to change. Thank you very much for listening to the Holy Spirit.

        I have a struggle with late night eating. I hate to go to bed hungry. I can eat well all through the day but not eating when I get home (sometimes after 7:00 or 8:00 p.m.) is hard. How can I overcome this late night eating habit that tends to sabotage all my good efforts during the day? Is there a recommendation for what I could eat that would not do any real damage at night?

        • Thank you so much for your kind comments, Beverly! I give all glory to the Lord. Regarding night time eating, you are NOT alone! That is one of the most common issues I hear with TBYT. I struggled with it myself.

          I’ve been reviewing scientific studies about our natural body rhythms and how we can use them to our advantage. For example, here are something I’ve learned about recently that relates to night time eating:

          The body is hungriest at 8:00 pm for most people. The theory is that since our ancestors faced many times of famine, our genes want us to eat big meals late so that we can go to sleep on it and store fat for survival in case of a famine.

          Thank the Lord that famine isn’t likely for most of us these days though so it’s good to know strategies to deal with this natural urge since the calories from large food intake are not needed late in the day.

          The body starts preparing itself for sleep around 9:00 pm with Melatonin release. During the night hours, the body becomes more insulin resistant – which means that it is less able to process sugar so what it can’t use is stored as fat more easily.

          You may be thinking – this is good knowledge Kim, but what do I do about it? Well, for me I also save enough room in my eating plan to have a small protein-rich snack at 7:00 pm. That is my last meal of the day. Studies have shown that protein helps curb hunger most effectively. I usually drink a plant-based protein smoothie (affiliate link), which is chocolate flavored. I blend it with 1/2 frozen banana and 1 cup of almond milk. It satisfies my sweet tooth.

          Other ideas could be plain Greek yogurt with a 1/4 cup of your favorite fruit or 1 TBSP nuts mixed in (you could use Stevia for sweetness) or make your own protein snack pack of 1 oz cheese, plus 1 TBSP of dried fruit (like raisins or cranberries) and 1 TBSP nuts. If you keep your snack reasonable and protein-rich, you will be in control and not open yourself up for food binges.

          Since you are working on changing habits, then it’s going to feel weird not to eat out of control in the evening at first. Check out my article on night-time eating for ideas on what to do instead. Be willing to test them out until you discover what works for you. I am praying for you!

  • I never even thought about those being a possibility of my discomfort. I always turn ti food to make me feel better. It has always been the one thing that never let me down. Until i realizes what it was doing to my body as a whole. Thank you for the extra strategy to find the real me that God wants me to be.

  • Thank you. Night craving is a real problem for me. This is a great reminder, that I have other senses and eating is not the only way to resolve my cravings. This is a coping skills I will use.

  • I can’t wait to utilize these tools! Probably in the next few minutes! Thanks for the words of wisdom that you share! I agree, you are a blessing!

  • Genius. Sometimes the simplest things are the most profound. I agree with Angie….Great new tool that I am excited to use.

  • I read this. I did not get distracted. It is so practical. Thank You, Abba, for giving me a new tool. Thank you, Kimberly, for being an available vessel for the Holy Spirit’s nudgings and fillings. I believe I will recall this during “trying” times. And I believe it will help me make healthy choices. THANK YOU FOR SHARING. : )

  • I never really thought about it that way. I always felt that if I was craving food then I must be hungry but thinking back, there have been times that I started eating what I was craving yet wasn’t hungry at all and after eating, still had the craving! Thank you for this insight and the verse from the Book of James.

  • This is truly amazing! I have never thought to check in with myself to figure out why I am uncomfortable. My thoughts just run straight to food, but the good news is, i don’t give in to it like I use too. God has help me to recognize what’s going on through prayer and all of the sources and wealth of information you have provided to is. Kim you are truly a blessing in my life! Thank you for sharing a new strategy with us! Can’t wait to try it. As you pour out the wisdom of God to us, may He fill you with more of His spirit and allow someone to pour into your life!

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