Colleen Ekback, MA
Is it healthy?
A source of happiness?
Does it bring you feelings of joy and satisfaction?
Or does it cause you to feel guilty?
Full of shame?
Does it cost you a lot of money and stress to diet and then later make you feel like a failure if you don’t reach your goals?
Is it “toxic” and unhealthy?
Is it often made up of unnatural ingredients &/or chemicals that make you feel mentally and physically “under par”?
Do you deprive yourself of it in hopes of losing weight for such a long time that you binge out of hunger, then later tell yourself that you have no willpower or control, while at the same time feeling bloated and a little sick?
Do you overeat when you are stressed? Feeling lonely? Bored? Happy? Overwhelmed or overworked? Sad?
Do you normally feel good after eating either mentally or physically?
Do you “beat yourself up” when you overeat or eat unhealthy foods?
Are you unhappy with your answers? Read on!
Well you really can have one! The questions above exemplify how our eating habits truly create the relationship we have with the food that we eat & ultimately with ourselves. Everyone has felt “bad” in one way or another after eating foods that are unhealthy. When repeated over & over, we send ourselves negative messages over & over as well. Not to mention if we gain weight! All of those lovely little comments we tell ourselves are so mean! The result? Yep, low self esteem. When we feel bad about ourselves it may even effect our relationships. Not fun.
The good news is that you have the power to change this relationship with food if you choose to. We always have control over what we choose to eat, no matter how chaotic our lives might be otherwise. In fact, it can give us a healthy sense of coping and control as well as create a foundation when other issues that we cannot control are effecting our stress. This sense of empowerment can help us better face our struggles with more confidence and clarity.
Nourishing our bodies and brains by eating healthy foods gives us piece of mind and energy to make us feel better both emotionally and physically. It’s only a matter of tweaking a few habits that will help build a healthier food relationship, no matter how toxic it might be. This doesn’t mean you need to have a perfect diet. It can simply be about taking the opportunity for improvement.
1. Purge your refrigerator and pantry of unhealthy foods. Maybe even clean it so you feel good about putting new healthier foods in later.
2. According to nutritionist Jane Jakubczak, 75% of overeating is caused by emotions! If you feel the urge to binge or eat unhealthy foods when you are feeling intense emotions:
STOP! Take 5 very deep slow breaths in & out to let some of it go. Let your shoulders and body relax.
Determine if you are really hungry or if you are looking for a way to comfort yourself.
Remind yourself that if you overeat &/or eat junk you will later regret it & you won’t feel good about yourself.
The short term gain of the comfort of food will have much more damaging and longer term negative effects.
Then think about how you are feeling. Name the emotion(s). If you are angry, what is behind the emotion? Hurt/disappointment/embarrassment/shame are some possibilities.
Next ask yourself if there is a healthier way to calm yourself. Maybe take walk & think about possible ways you can cope with how you are feeling. If this feeling is chronic, what is the source? Focus on what you can control. If another person hurt you, rehearse in your mind how you would like to talk to person who upset you in a way that honors your feelings and helps you heal. If you can’t walk at that time, plan a time later in the day when you can. You could also meditate, take more deep breaths, call a friend and vent or do something productive. The craving will pass if you can identify and soothe the emotion.
3. Take the time to sit down when you eat and pay attention to all of your senses. This mindful eating helps you slow down and enjoy your food which will likely help you eat sensible portions. Chew slowly and really taste what you are eating.
4. Notice that your body tells you when you have had enough to eat. Don’t ignore it! You don’t have to “clean your plate.” You can always save and store leftovers for another time.
5. Focus on eating healthy portions. Put the remainder of the prepared food away before you eat so you are less likely to have additional helpings. If you eat snacks like chips or crackers, put a reasonable portion in a bowl and put the box away.
6. Strive for a balanced diet- half the plate fruits &/or veggies, ¼ carbohydrates ¼ protein (the size of your fist).
7. Eat in the kitchen only if at all possible. Ideally, with a placemat and on plates or in bowls instead of containers they come in. If you like to munch while watching tv, put them in a bowl and limit yourself to 1 serving. If you have the urge to get more, wait 5 minutes and see if the craving passes.
8. If you feel like you need additional support coping with stress and emotions, seek counseling. You will see progress in a very short time if you focus on your individual hurdles with an objective person who is skilled in helping people handle personal challenges.
· If I can help you in any way, please feel free to contact me. My email address is colleen@lifetrackcounseling
· Cheers to a more respectful relationship with food!