When it comes to emotional eating, most of us experience some degree of it, whether conscious of it or not. Emotional eating is defined as “eating when feeing stressed, angry, frustrated, lonely, anxious, bored or depressed.” Some experts estimate that 75 percent of overeating is a response to our emotions. Like a drug, eating certain foods act like a vice or a temporary fix when experiencing challenging situations or emotions.
Emotional eating is closely related to cravings. When it comes to your body’s cravings, you may tend to judge yourself in a negative light, feeling like you have failed each time you indulge in chocolate chip cookies or a bag of chips. In order to redefine and transform your relationship with food, it can be helpful to look closely at how you are relating to your cravings.
There is a strong belief that food cravings are something to fight and giving into them reflects a lack of willpower. However common this belief is, it’s completely false. To shift how you are relating to food and your cravings, first let go of your inner critic and exercise self-compassion. View food with a fresh perspective; see yourself as an experiment and simple observe. Doing so helps release any negative mind chatter and self-judgement which tend to perpetuate self-punishing repetitive cycles and food drama.
Are you ready to let go of the food drama? The first step to shifting to empowered eating is to change your perspective. See that your cravings are actually valuable messages, signals from your body pointing to what you are needing in the moment. Due to the overwhelming amount of information about health and nutrition out there, you may have learned not to trust these signals and feel confused about what to eat. You may be following a particular diet plan and therefore fighting or ignoring your body’s signals in order to stick with the plan. Although well intentioned and temporarily workable, the majority of outside prescriptions around food are not sustainable or helpful in the long run because of their fixed nature. They do not address your changing individual needs or teach you how to listen to what your body is calling for each day, week or season.
Once you clearly recognize what your body is calling for rather than following what you “should” or “shouldn’t” be eating, you will begin to trust and know what you truly need to nourish yourself in each moment – and it’s not always food. Sometimes it’s a physical need and often times, it’s as simple as getting some fresh air, taking a nap, mental break or self-care day.
It is possible to shift from emotional to empowered eating.
[Adapted from Molly’s book, Energizing Nutrition: A New Food Paradigm]
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