Emotional eating. We have all been there and sometime we are cognizant of it and sometimes it takes being a little more to realize what is happening. It is easy to master the physical aspect of food like learning what nutrients our bodie need and how we should be fueling it, but if it was that simple, all of us would be walking around looking like fitness models. Clearly there are some other aspects in play when it comes to eating and our food choices.
So why do we eat?
Homeostatic Eating: Eating for energy and to fuel our bodies. Homeostatic eating regulates energy balance. This is true hunger.
Hedonic Eating: Eating for pleasure. This goes above and beyond our bodies natural desire to eat to keep the body alive and fully functioning. Food is seen as a reward and can be triggered by things like emotions, social influences, childhood events, habits and environmental factors. The biological need for food is not present.
I have experienced it myself and seen so many clients who struggle with it as well. This doesn't just mean reaching for a pint of ice cream when you are feeling sad. Emotional eating covers things from body image issues, eating disorders and guilty feelings around food, habits we have created, and using food as a reward or even punishment.
Here are a couple of my top tips for managing your eating habits and addressing any external factors that could be preventing you from feeling your best.
Write out a food log. One of the first exercises we did in school was keep a food journal. I recorded when I ate, how much, feelings around eating, my emotions at the time and energy levels. It really helps you notice any habits or trends in eating like if you are bored or upset. This is also good to see if you have any food reactions as well. Try it out for a week or two.
Keep a journal. If you have been following the trend about health and wellness enthusiasts creating a morning or evening routine, writing in a journal is usually part of it. It's kind of like keeping a diary where you record your thoughts and feelings, you can record things you are grateful for, things that are worrying you, your goals whatever you want. It's always good to go back and reflect. If you want to read more about creating a healthy routine, check out my post here.
Deal with your emotions. What are you trying to hide or cover up from emotional eating?Confronting emotions can be one of the toughest things to do but something that is so important. If you have past traumas, broken relationships, are holding onto resentment, feeling angry or in grief, reach out to someone. I am a true believer that releasing those emotions is key to healing. One of my favorite books by Louise Hay called "You Can Heal Your Life" speaks about the reasons why our bodies hold onto excess weight. One of the things that stood out to me is that she doesn't council people on weight loss but finds that after people deal with their emotions, their weight naturally balances out. When we hold onto weight, we often are protecting ourselves from something. It's up to you to find out what that is and take the necessary steps to handling it.
Practice mindful eating. Put everything you want to eat on a plate and sit down for your meal. Eat your food with no distractions (that means no scrolling through Instagram!). Sitting in a calm environment, taking a few deep breaths before you eat helps to soothe the nervous system and improve digestion. You will feel so much more satisfied with your food if you eat in a relaxed state. Even if you are starving, take the extra minute to settle.
Meditation. I have meditated on and off for a couple of years. I am able to find balance with food and my body so much easier when I incorporate it into my routine. Meditation quiets the mind and brings you into present time. It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress and cortisol levels. Having high cortisol and adrenaline levels from lifestyle habits or over exercising can actually cause your blood sugar levels to become unstable and trigger cravings for sugar. There are many apps you can download for guided meditations but I personally just like setting aside 10-15 (that's all you need) and sit with my eyes closed. It's easy to get frustrated with meditation if you have trouble quieting your thoughts, but just keep practicing! It gets easier.
Last but not least, chose your foods wisely. Foods that are loaded with sugar and additives will make you crave those food more. Always choose whole foods, include complex carbohydrates, good quality protein and healthy fats at every meal. Of course there are going to be times when you indulge and that is okay. We cannot be perfect and in fact indulging in a glass of wine with your girlfriends or having a piece of cake at a birthday or wedding is okay and part of living a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
I am a true believer that health is not just what you are eating. It's what you are thinking and saying to yourself on a daily basis. It is how you deal with stress and your mental and emotional state. It's nourishing yourself on a spiritual level, doing things that you enjoy and accepting yourself as you are while working on the person you want to be.
Always here for any questions. Hope you enjoyed this. Please let me know your comments below, I would love to hear them!
Interested in one on one nutritional coaching? Check out my services here!