Eating can be many things. It can be for the pleasure of taste, a way of escapism, or to fuel our bodies. Fueling our bodies is the main purpose for food, however we often do not think of it that way. We think of eating to feel good with, often with calorie dense low nutritional valued ‘comfort foods’ that leave us feeling unsatisfied.
Our senses of taste and smell can bring back memories in an instant; from childhood, cooking in grandma's kitchen, holidays, and so forth. It's a powerful connection between food and memory as food triggers both taste and smell senses.
The most common problem people run into when they begin a 'diet' is restricting or eliminating foods they love (those not so healthy but oh so delicious an comforting foods). This is why dieting doesn't work. It's not sustainable; eventually you'll decide to chuck the celery stalk, grab a piece of black forest cake, and forget the diet altogether.
Moderation is a necessity of success. If you want to get healthy, build muscle, lose weight, etc. you have to have an approach that is something that works life-long. Sustainability is the missing key.
How is this accomplished? The 80/20 rule is a good place to start. It stands for aiming for 80% healthy 20% indulgent when it comes to eating. So that might mean Saturday's you don't track calories, you eat what you feel like, have a beer, and then Sunday you're back to your healthy foods.
It's also important to note that your healthy choices don't mean a sad plate of unseasoned steamed veggies next to a sad looking piece of chicken. Healthy foods can, and should, be the most flavorful, mouth watering, awe inspiring foods!
It's a world of flavor you never knew existed. Start investigating recipes, watch cooking shows, and get inspired!
Now let's say you're eating healthy, you go this whole moderation thing down, but then... life happens.
At some point no matter who you are, poop hits the fan! You get fired, someone you love passes away, you get in a fight with your best friend, there's a leak in your roof, have a car accident, your child moves away to college, you computer completely breaks down and you lose everything on the hard drive... stress happens!
An old ingrained habit of turning to food for comfort will spring up so hard and so fast it'll leave your head spinning!
Getting around emotional eating starts with recognizing your own patterns, and what triggers your desire to go for the junk food, overeating, and raiding the cupboards at 1AM.
Often insecurities and stressful situations trigger this desire. Food is used an escapism so we don’t have to deal with the feeling.
However as soon as we’re done eating our comfort food, that feeling returns, and now add on to that the guilt of indulgence and getting off course from our healthy eating. And that spawns the vicious cycle of heading right back to the food.
So once we recognize the pattern, what’s the next step?
Coming up with a plan of action! The next time you feel the desire to go for comfort food, first of all, go drink an 8-12oz glass of water. Often, with emotional eating, we’re not really hungry at all. Drinking water will let you know if you’re actually hungry. 20 minutes after drinking the water if you’re tummy is grumbling, go get a 100-200 calorie snack of fruit or vegetables.
Right after having your water, have an activity ready for yourself. This can be watering your plants, painting a picture, hands on crafts, taking the dog for a walk, etc. But this activity needs to be something that has you physically & mentally engaged. Watching TV, for example, is not a good activity, and will likely leave you going to grab your junk food.
The reason we keep our bodies & minds busy with a task is to help outlet some of that stress energy build up. Eating is just a distraction so we don't have to deal with what's bothering us; we can choose to change what we pick to do as that distraction.
If your feeling stressed due to a situation you’ve been avoiding, it may be a good time to go and resolve that issue. Once you've worked through what has you agitated you're able to release it, and that's the most liberating thing of all!
Be prepared and you don’t have to worry about losing your self control.