Hunger is the most logical trigger that leads people to open the fridge with eagerness and excitement, but not the only one. On your journey to optimal health, among the most essential steps you can take is to see why, when, and what you eat in order to be the master of food. If food is the master of you, read on.
I hear from my clients on a regular basis that they are stress eaters. They have explained this to me by stating that when they perceive their environment as being too stressful?, they turn to food. People, who normally feel in control, suddenly find themselves lured by chips, cookies, anything, as one client told me, that they can get their hands on. One person told me that it does not even matter, as long as he can make his arm like a shovel and his mouth like a trough.
Eating disorders are a very scary topic because few people want to admit that they have a substance abuse problem. The tricky thing about food is that even for the worst stress eater, he or she must still learn to negotiate with food in a healthy manner in order to achieve balance in their lives. Unlike other substances, one cannot go cold turkey? with food.
An example of such a disorder was told to me by one who had not realized that on his drive home from work, he ploughs through an entire big bag of barbecued potato chips. He used to see the empty bag on the seat next to him and have no recollection of having eaten the bag. This is a man who, on the outside, has all of the trappings of success. His broken relationship with food and his body tell a completely different story.
Here is a partial list of reasons why people eat, other than because their bellies are empty. Use this list as a reference as you learn more about yourself in this department.
Emotions such as anger, frustration, boredom, loneliness
Exhaustion and lack of energy
Here is a partial list of solutions and strategies to address each of these triggers. Try these. If food and your body have been your enemy, you might discover a more loving relationship with both.
As you reach for food, ask yourself, What am I feeling now This might reveal an array of emotions that need to be handled in your life. If you are angry, do you need to communicate something to someone? Do you need to get over some pent-up resentment toward someone? If you are frustrated and bored at work, knowing that that is what needs to be addressed can propel you to make necessary (and perhaps scary) changes to your environment. If you are lonely, reaching out to someone will be far more nourishing than reaching out to a candy bar or a vending machine. Knowing the answer to what you are feeling will take practice. Your own emotional intelligence will be nurtured, just as you nurture your body. You will get better at this; the evidence will be that you can divert your food habit to taking care of what you really need.
If you are exhausted, ask yourself before you eat, What is my body telling me now In what ways can I nurture my body now Sleep is a big deficit in busy peoples? lives. Food will provide energy, but it will not make up for chronic fatigue. In fact, if you use food to make up for a lack of sleep, your body will rebel with pesky weight gain and even less energy. If the lack of energy is because your last meal? was loaded with simple carbs, your body knows that your blood sugar has crashed and another round of carbs (chips, cookies, crackers, etc.) will get you out of the danger zone. Instead of succumbing to this pattern, having more balanced meals and snacks will help you head this low energy state off at the pass. If you discover that you are exhausted, instead of mitigating this with food, try sleep. Try getting to bed one hour earlier. Try eliminating caffeine. Your body will jump for joy when you give yourself rest instead of covering up your fatigue with food. The former is sustainable for a healthy lifestyle. The latter is not.
Some people eat when they get excited or are feeling great. Getting stuffed when life is really good is a way of bringing the energy down. Sadly, some people cannot handle feelings of high energy and unbridled enthusiasm. So, they use food to knock themselves down a few notches. If this is you, there are other ways to tolerate energy and excitement in your body. Exercise, stretching, a walk around the block, listening to your favorite music will help you feel more grounded and less dependent on food. All of the recommendations here will provide you with natural energy, which can translate to your tolerating feeling really good more easily.
As I write this we are in mid-December. ‘Tis the season for holiday cookies, cakes, eggnog, and jillions of unnecessary calories. Even at other times of the year, you may find yourself tempted during any kind of gathering. I frequently hear from nurses that they cannot resist the cookies and donuts in their shared kitchen. This habit can be replaced it with other behaviors, such as avoiding the kitchen. If you are in a social situation, focusing on people and drinking bubbly water can divert your attention. Breathing and relaxing will put your focus on your body and off the tempting food.
If you are not inclined to feel your body, this is a great opportunity. One of my clients told me recently that the suggestion to put down his fork and concentrate on chewing immediately got him to feel his body while eating. He lost an immediate 5 pounds simply by slowing down while he ate. He headed himself off at the pass thus preventing him from stuffing himself. The bite to avoid is the first bite after the last bite that brought you to satiety and a comfortable satisfaction. It’s like turning off the gas when filling the tank in your car when you hear the click. Listen for that click during a meal. The pre-stuffing bite can be avoided if you listen, breathe, relax, and ask yourself what would nourish me now?? Pushing your plate away from you or your chair away from the table is as nourishing for your body as that delicious, healthy food you just consumed.
With love and encouragement,
Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
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