What guides are there available in the corpus of Torah, including all Rabbinic writings, on ridding oneself of specifically the desire for food?

Context/Reason for asking:

It is a common theme in Torah: many sources, including Gemaras; medival works like Sefer HaIkkarim; Mussar and Chassidut etc, explain that we are in this world in order for us to be placed in an environment where hard work must be performed to bring out our soul's natural desire to only want to serve Hashem and our fellow Jews, and to lose interest in the wordly desires that our physical body brings, as a test. Therefore in this context, I am interested specifically in the desire for food, and any specific guides by our Rabbis (all the way back to Moshe if necessary!) have given us for beating it.

I am only asking about guides for accomplishing the perishut of food, not an explanation of perishut itself, although that of course might be highly relevant to the answer.

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    Maybe following the Rambam's advice (Hilchos Deos, chapter 4) in that we should not eat our belly completely full. From a medical point of view, your stomach will adjust if you eat less, and you will have less desire to eat all day long. Also remember that in Chassidus, it is explained that there is a Holy Spark within the food we take. I think we must also remember that when eating. I don't know this site, but please see the detailled article here.
    – Shmuel
    Oct 16, 2023 at 21:07
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    – שלום
    Oct 16, 2023 at 21:38
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    @RabbiKaii actually, if you train yourself to eat less, your body will adopt to that new situation and your brain will give less "I am hungry" signals. Often, when eating too much, your brain will think you are hungry even if you are not. So, eating less, could result in getting rid of the desire, or lessen it.
    – Shmuel
    Oct 16, 2023 at 21:45
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    @Shmuel do you have any source to corroborate that specific point: that doing so permanently reduces one's desire for food? This doesn't seem to be the case, but perhaps you need to expand your definition? Note and possibly related: King David got rid of his yeitzer hara through fasting. Not necessarily specifically his yeitzer hara for food, but the whole shebang. So seems this is a relevant angle
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Oct 16, 2023 at 21:46
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    I actually semi-followed the Rambam's advice in combination with Intermittent Fasting. I had less food-cravings and was earlier full when eating. See also this research.
    – Shmuel
    Oct 16, 2023 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


The Piascezne Rebbe writes at length about this in his Hachsharas HaAvreichim. (By the way, if you are a fan of practically embedding mussar - it's a really good read!)

In the 9th perek he first talks about how to wield mastery over your soul. This starts by

בהסתכלות אודות הרגש שנתעורר לך

By looking at the emotion that will arise in you

For example, he says, imagine two plates of meat are brought out - one you absolutely love and find really delicious, and the other you're not so fond of. He says to go with the meat you don't really want as a means to train your soul to overpower the lust/craving from the yetzer hara.

He then goes on to say if a person is so incredibly gripped with a desire for certain foods, he needs to train himself in how to beat this lusting, and it all stems from the mind. He recommends that you take yourself out of the scenario and look at it from an outside perspective. You have to reason with your mind that you are not about to die from starvation, and you will continue to function just fine without it. It is about learning to mentally fight the desire. If one repeatedly practices this rhetoric it trains the mind to withstand the temptation of food:

הבט עלי׳, וחזור דברים הללו פעם ושתים וכו׳, ותראה ותתפלא איך בעזהשי״ת תתחלש תאוותך אף תמס לגמרי. כה תעשה בעניני אכילה וכה תעשה גם בשאר תאוותיך, אף בדיבור איזה ענין אף של רשות שאינו עבירה, אבל טוב יותר שלא תדבר אותו, ומ״מ מתגרה אתה לדבר אותו, הבט עליך ועל גרויתך באופן כזה

Look at me, and repeat these words once, twice, etc., and you will see and be amazed how in the end, with Hashem's help, your lust will weaken and even melt away completely. This is how you act in matters of eating, and this is how you do in the rest of your desires as well, even in idle speech, which is not a sin, but it is better not to do it. Such idle speech is something unnecessary that irks and compels you, so look at it and its temptations with this method.

I am also reminded of the Taanis Raavad which is similarly about learning how to wean oneself off an inherent desire for food.

He suggests a stage-by-stage process. Firstly, to leave over a little bit of one food on your plate. After mastering this, try and do it with two foods on your plate, until you can do it with every item on the plate. Once mastered, you then need to aim for leaving over the favourite part of the given food e.g. the cherry on the top of the cake, the most cheesey patch of the pizza etc. The idea being that you become a master over food and not the other way round.

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    Indeed, I am sold. Thank you very much!
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Oct 16, 2023 at 22:25

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