Physical cravings as physiologic needs
Our bodies have physical cravings too. These cravings are better known as physiologic needs. For example, whenever we are hungry, we need to eat. Whenever we are thirsty, we need to drink water. When we are cold, we need to keep our bodies warm. When we are tired, we need to sleep. These physiologic needs or physical cravings are necessary for survival. The body signals to us what it needs to keep us alive. Resist the biological urge, and we die. Problems arise when we give over and beyond what our bodies need.
Making wiser and Godly decisions
In Proverbs 3, the Bible says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Prov. 3:7-8). How often have we made poor decisions concerning our physical cravings that have led to adverse outcomes? God made us consume food—not the other way around. We were created to have control over food rather than have food destroy us. However, we allow food to consume us when we cannot refrain from greed and gluttony. Obesity is a genuine problem, and many of us battle it, not knowing it is also a spiritual issue. We make foolish food decisions rather than choose to honor God with our bodies.
Another way that we go over and beyond what our physical body needs is whenever we turn to resort to food, drinks, and physical comfort as a temporary fix. Have you ever sought to numb yourself with drugs or alcohol? Perhaps, you have been overeating because you are “stressed out”? Have you ever found yourself sleeping too much because you are too unmotivated? These are examples of how giving our body more than it needs can negatively impact us and even be dishonoring to God. Remember that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). Besides, to take care of ourselves is to honor God with our bodies as a form of worship (Rom. 12:1).
Physical craving is a yearning for physical touch
Physical cravings can also refer to the yearning for physical touch and sensate pleasure. Several studies have strongly linked physical contact with our psychological well-being. Humans, after all, are social animals.1 We have always existed and will live in sociality with one another. Part of the reality of sociality is the inevitability and necessity of physical human contact. Physical touch constitutes hugging another person or feeling another’s a touch on our arm or shoulder, or simply feeling the presence of another when we’re in an elevator, exiting a train, or falling in line.
Sensate pleasure can feel that warm relief of entering a heated room in the middle of winter or drinking an ice-cold drink in the summer heat. Sensate pleasure is also that soothing feeling we get when we go for a massage after a long tiring day or the calming effect of the scent of peppermint oil in the middle of a stressful time. The capacity to feel physical pleasure through touch and our senses is a gift. It is a craving that, if satisfied through God-pleasing ways, can give us a sense of calm, peace, and joy. However, the need to meet such wants can stem from a much deeper desire, such as the need to feel secure and affirmed. When these physical pleasures begin to replace our hope and security in God, this is when these natural cravings become distorted and displeasing to God.
Distorted physical cravings can come from illicit affairs, sexual harassment, and even mental health issues like depression. The heart and center of many distorted physical desires have to do with the concept of touch deprivation. Touch deprivation occurs when an individual has had minimal contact with others that they suddenly have a massive surge of craving for it. This is why while touch is an innate human need, people who have been deprived of it can crave it far too much resulting in aggression, inappropriate sexual behavior, depression, body image issues, and an ungrounded fear of attachment and commitment. Touch-deprived individuals can also resort to self-harm, like self-cutting. This is because they desire so much to feel something because they have felt numbed by all the painful and traumatic situations they have experienced.
For those of us who experience behavioral problems because of the depravities we have experienced, it is important to turn to God. Turning to God can be in the form of seeking psychological and behavioral help, for God uses doctors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals in caring for us and in empowering us to live an abundant life.