18 November 2020
Imagine it’s the holiday season. The family has planned a get together for the upcoming weekend. You’re excited about the kids returning to the nest, and so you want to make it a really special occasion, full of fun, laughter, and smiles. You’re thinking about what kinds of foods and drinks you will gather to make the celebration as enjoyable as possible.
What will you be putting on your shopping list?
Desserts? Cakes? Soft drinks? Alcohol? Nibbles?
Does a part of you think …
“I probably shouldn't - I’ve really been trying to focus on my health lately, and I better not undo all of my good work…”
Then another part of you interrupts ...
“It's a special occasion, so we have to ... It’s fine.”
Does this sound like a familiar internal dialogue?
Unfortunately, decades of marketing and manipulation from the food marketing industry has programmed most of us to believe that food is the best way to enhance our emotional experiences, be they positive or negative.
We have been programmed to use food as a coping mechanism to disconnect from our negative emotions. Anytime we feel sad, lonely, stressed, lost, or bored, we reach for comfort foods to instantly change our emotional state. Food marketing encourages us to soothe those unpleasant and icky feelings with highly processed foods, which either mindlessly numb us, or elevate us to a temporary high.
Feeling stressed or frustrated about that project at work that isn’t working out?
Reach for a chocolate bar, because you’re just not most productive when you’re hungry, right? Or take a break, have a ….. (fill-in the blank).
Emotional eating is also linked to joyous occasions. When you’re celebrating something special, make sure you recognise that with cake, ice cream, chocolate, chips, ….
What if it’s a family event; you don’t want to upset mum or Aunty Dot by not having some of her famous pavlova, so I better have … “just one slice”.
Does this sound familiar?
Do you see how many times you have been programmed and conditioned to believe that food and drink need to be the focal point of life’s ups, downs, and all those in-between?
What is your North point?
What are your true health goals in life?
Does your emotional eating really line up with these goals?
Where is this behaviour going to take you in 3 months, 3 years, or in 3 decades?
Are your rules around emotional eating confining you into a state of health that could lead you to disease or even an early grave?
The first step to turn your emotional eating on its head, is to become aware. Aware of your thoughts; aware of your needs; aware of your rules. It’s only then that you can start to make real long-term changes to your health.
Next time you feel the sensation of hunger or the impulse to reach for a sugary snack, instead of mindlessly acting on it, take a moment to breathe deeply, look inward, and delve into that sensation a little more. Find out what it's all about. Aim to understand what is really behind it. Is it nutritional hunger(1) that is really driving you, or is that hunger being triggered by some kind of emotion? Is it an emotional ache crying out for a temporary fix? Are you acting within the confines of some kind of rule, story or belief that says you need to eat to fit in?
Connect with your inner wisdom. Allow it reveal what is true to you. Let it guide you.
Becoming consciously aware of your body and what it is saying is the key to understanding what your body really needs and not unconsciously succumbing to the past manipulative programming of the food industry.
If you do in fact interpret that sensation as an emotionally-driven hunger (1), proceed instead with a course of action that truly serves you and your emotional wellbeing. Go for a walk in nature, connect with a friend, or simply choose a healthier alternative.
You are worth the effort of giving your body what it truly needs.
Your Body & Your Health Matters!