So…here is a little secret that my friends and family already know about me. During a particularly yummy meal, I may or may not be spotted dancing and humming (a little) in my chair. For the overwhelming majority of us, eating good food is pleasurable. In fact, you can not separate mood from food. And, that’s ok! It is what keeps our species alive.
Not only do certain foods activate or inhibit chemicals in our body that influence our mood, our bodies are so intuitive that the body craves foods that make us feel better at the end of a stressful day, week, month… particularly sugar and carbohydrates. Yikes, because sometimes we can get into a little trouble when eating yummy food is our “go to” for an improved mood.
Social and celebratory eating (birthday celebrations, night out with the girls, sports game nights with the guys), pleasure eating (favorite movie/television show is on), boredom/mindless eating (Wait…the whole bag of chips is gone?!), stress eating (pint of chocolate ice cream at the end of a bad day). We have all engaged in mood/emotional eating at one time or another.
If emotional eating or OVEReating is getting in the way of you reaching your wellness goals (weight, health concern maintenance or prevention, athletic goals etc.) it’s time to address it.
First, understanding the mood-food connection is essential. For some people, it is difficult to identify the difference between hunger and the body’s physiologic response to negative emotions. IA starting point to break the habit of mindless or emotional eating is understanding the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger:
EMOTIONAL HUNGER PHYSICAL HUNGER
Comes on suddenly, “I need something.” Comes on gradually
Crave something specific (chips, sweets) Any food will satisfy
Eat even though full Feel full, stop eating
Eat and feel guilty Eat and feel better
Anxious, low mood Stomach grumbles
Eat whatever is present Eat a balanced meal
Once you know the difference, take a pause and assess. Sometimes, that pause will make the difference. Be mindful and you will succeed!
Next time…Creating a customized “comfort kit” for those stressful times: relaxing and calming the body with aromatherapy, soothing yourself with emotional relationships (and sex), mindful meditation, and mindful eating.
Also, if you are in the Detroit area- stay tuned for more information regarding an ongoing series that will address, “What’s Eating You?” a supportive group environment focused on empowering you towards LIVING THE LIFE YOU LOVE!
GO. LIVE. WELL!