This week we challenge you to take inventory of your feelings before and after eating. Are you eating because you are truly hungry, are you eating without even noticing you are eating (until the bag of chips or bar of chocolate is gone), are you happy, angry, lonely, anxious, sad, bored, stressed or tired? Are you even paying attention to the food, taste, smell, texture etc. while you are eating it? Emotions and emotional baggage can manifest in many different ways and often shows up in eating patterns.
When you are in a good mood and happy it is often easier to make healthy food choices, however, when celebrating an accomplishment, birthday or holiday we often give ourselves unlimited permission to indulge. Feeling stressed, anxious, sad, lonely, tired or any number of not so pleasant emotions can have you reaching for “comfort” in foods that temporarily give you a surge of feel good chemicals but ultimately leave you just as empty emotionally as before. Essentially, we are seeking pleasure and if we do not receive it from our daily lives (or are triggered by a stressor) we often turn to the tried and true FOOD.
So, this week we challenge you to taking note (literally, take note on a pad of paper) of how you feel before and after eating. This can help unlock what you are truly urning for. Are you listening to your body and nourishing it or are you trying to fill a need or desire that is not being met? Don’t beat yourself up over the times you indulge but instead take note and give yourself the space to explore it directly. Do you need time alone to decompress or do you need time with friends and family? Do you need to exercise and get the blood flowing or do you need a restorative day? Do you need to confront issues that keep you in a pattern of using food to numb your feelings or do you need to let go of your identity with food and what you believe it means in staying connected to your roots? Is it just habit?
There are so many reasons people do the things they do and often it stems from feeling like something is lacking or being overwhelmed or even more common; by habit. By taking note of your feelings, broadening your general awareness, and being present when eating you can create a better relationship with food where you are eating to live life instead of living to eat.
Take note: It might look something like this:
Before: woke up hungry, always do.
Made a delicious berry shake.
After: Still hungry so had a handful of almonds. Feel satisfied.
Before: I am trying to have one veggie or green juice a day. Not hungry necessarily but wanted something and it seemed like this was the perfect time to have it.
After: I feel good and energized.
Before: I have been stressed this afternoon trying to get everything done (that I feel should be done) before heading to work. I did not get a run in that I wanted to and am anxious and annoyed.
– Had some leftovers from last nights dinner (in a rush). I remember it tasting really good last night but do not remember what it even tasted like today. Distracted and in a hurry.
After: Still feel unsatisfied and want to snack. When I get to the airport I buy a chocolate bar and some trail mix to eat a little of….Did not bring my own snacks.
Before: Still wound up from being in a rush and sitting in traffic…Almost late to work.
– Mindlessly eat the entire chocolate bar once we get up to cruse plus some of the trail mix.
After: finally have some time to time to breathe and relax. Feel guilty about snack.
By taking note you may be able to detect patterns or unveil emotional issues you may not have been aware of, for example:
– If you are always feeling short on time (stressed, anxious, angry, annoyed) before leaving the house you might need to start planning ahead and asking others (if you have family around) to help with certain things like throwing some snacks in your food cooler while you get ready. Or ask them to help with one of your “chores” to lessen your load and stress level.
– Do you find yourself mindlessly eating because food is in front of you or you are board? Set yourself up for success by having fruits, cut veggies and nuts/seeds within site and reach and pushing everything else to the back of the fridge, cupboard and off the tables completely!
– If things don’t go your way (which, lets face it…how often do things really go as planned 🙂 do you get flustered, angry, annoyed or stressed out? Do you then reach for food to calm you down?
– If you always eat in front of the tv because you are lonely on trips, call a friend or family member to catch up or go for a walk with a crew member before.
– If you always eat in front of the tv to detach, decompress and tune out, first, try doing some yoga, go to the hotel gym or simply breath deeply and meditate for 5-10 minutes.
– If you find yourself overeating at most meals or one meal in particular during the day, take note of why that is. Are you trying to cut back on calories by not snacking, getting too hungry and then overeating later in the day? Are you not planning ahead and getting stuck with nothing to eat on quick turns or if you get delayed? If that is the case, plan ahead and bring healthy snacks with you. Eating a healthy snack between meals can save on calories in the long run and keep your blood sugar levels even.
– If there is stress in a relationship between you and family member or loved one and you overeat when issues arise, evaluate why that is. What responsibility can you take for it and how can you change your behavior? Can you remove yourself from the situation or detach yourself/ego from being consumed by the situation? How can you deal with this in a healthy manor? Go for a run or walk, meet up with friends to decompress, call someone you can connect with, get lost in art or music.
– As you are eating try to slow it down and take note of how you feel. A tried and true menthol is to stop when you are at about 80% full or if you are eating out ask for 1/2 your meal to be boxed up before you even start. Be present and pay attention to the people you are with or if you are alone to the sounds around you and the food you are eating!
Image by scottchan