Food The Socially Acceptable Drug

Hello world! We’re back on regular scheduled topics today. Thanks for letting me share and talk about my newest hobby/ adventure on flipping vintage and antique furniture in my last few posts. I appreciate your feedback on it and I’m pretty sure you’ll still be able to find some of my current projects on my Monday Musings posts.

If you missed the furniture posts you can find them here….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/05/22/the-art-of-flipping-furniture/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/05/23/steps-to-transforming-vintage-furniture/

Todays topic though, we’re gonna get a little more serious and talk about something that we all need and use every day.

 

food drug

Food.

We all like to eat, right? And we need food at it’s basic level for fuel for our bodies to run on and to have energy for all our daily tasks and work.

Factors like our age, sex, body type, and activity levels, will largely determine how much food we need for optimal health and performance in our day. No one is the same in their needs.

Don’t eat enough for your body and activity level, you’ll lose weight.

Eat to much for your body and activity level, you’ll gain weight.

For many though food poses a harsher darker side. Food is as addictive and pleasing to the sensory part of our brains as drugs and alcohol are to others.

Food though. is completely and totally acceptable. No one considers it a form of medication to our deeper needs like we view alcohol or drug abuse.

Medicate me please….

We don’t really like to consider that we may use food to medicate deeper needs within ourselves.  We don’t (maybe)want to get that real and personal with our pain, our anxiety, our hurts or fears.

Emotional eating is as damaging to our bodies as other forms that are used to make people feel better. I wrote an entire post on emotional eating that you can find here…

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/08/09/understanding-emotional-eating/

All of us emotionally eat at any given time. It’s not all “bad”. We can eat for celebrations and enjoying time out with friends, we can get ice cream just because we “feel good”. I mean really, who is ever hungry for cake? It’s something we do because we enjoy it and that’s ok ’cause life is meant to be enjoyed.

However….

Habitual overeating can lead to obesity or eating disorders like bulimia. Obesity is becoming more and more of a health issue and causes many chronic ( preventable)  diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Foods people use to medicate can simply vary by individual. Everything from sweets to fried foods or maybe a certain style of food.

The act of eating  soothes that “thing” within that troubles us. It can momentarily make us feel better and give a sense of comfort or peace. A false sense.

That type of behavioral  eating also broods other negatives as in self loathing or negative talk over what was eaten as the person feels guilty for doing it.

It can then lead one to other extreme behaviors of perhaps, restricting or cutting back on foods, withholding food, crazy “miracle” diet ideas, or cleanses or detoxes as a way to “negate” or get rid of what’s been done.

You cannot “undo” what has been done. You can choose to change the next behavior or choice.

it’s a whirlwind of self destructive behaviors while never possibly grasping the “why’s” of what’s being done.

It’s a process of understanding and learning why we do what we do and what triggers us to make those choices to medicate ourselves with food.

How can we counteract this?

People often dismiss the overall benefits of exercise. They often associate it as something you do to “lose weight” or to stay in good physical shape. They make jokes about it or moan about “having” to do it.

I get it. Been there done that. Exercise IS hard work and does require a healthy amount of discipline up front to make it a “habit” that you want to stick with.

I always tell people if they will just start, make that commitment, and give it a few weeks to begin to feel like a new habit it will be easier and really, they will begin to anticipate it.

Where both of those are true and helpful ( weight loss and staying in good shape)  exercise has far more wide reaching benefits to our body and mind.

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health.

Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood.

Exercise has shown to help/improve mild to moderate depression without the side effects of medication.  Exercise is a powerful depression fighter. it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being.

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins.

Stay focused on what you are doing instead of zoning out. Think about how your body feels, how you breathe, the feel of the wind on your skin and things like that.

There’s nothing I love more than being out on the road for a run, hearing my feet hit the road, the sound of my breathing, maybe the wind blowing and nothing else that is a calm to my mind and soul.

Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.

Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.

There’s a lot of other benefits too…..

Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.

Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.

Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

More energy. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise a day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.

Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.

You may be thinking you don’t have the time or it seems daunting to even start the process. The good news is that really, even a good 15 minute brisk walk every day can help boost your mood.

Let’s face it, everyone has at least 15 minutes, right?

Of course you’ll want to build that time up to reap bigger and better rewards not only mentally but physically too.

Overcoming obstacles

even intellectually knowing and understanding that exercise can help you mentally, it’s just not often that easy to jump into it.

Exercise obstacles are a very real thing.

For example:

Feeling tired. It’s hard to imagine going for a walk or whatever activity you’ve chosen if you feel like all you want is a nap. Studies show that exercise greatly reduces fatigue and even telling yourself just a 5 minute walk will most likely lead to a longer one.

Feeling overwhelmed. With all of life’s demands and things expected of us plus dealing with mental health issues, the idea of adding one more thing to your plate can seem daunting. Begin to think of it as a priority and you will find ways to fit small amounts into your schedule.

Feeling bad about yourself. We are and tend to be, our own worst critics. Embrace where you are and determine to think in positive ways about yourself.   No matter your age, size, fitness level etc there are people everywhere like you who are on the same path to wanting to get fit. Appreciate your body for what it can do for you and celebrate ways you are learning to take better care of it. It’s really ok to love yourself.

Starting small is the first important step and it’s really ok to start small. You don’t want to do to much to soon. Consistency will be the key to long term success. Commit to do something daily, no matter how small, and build on that.

Getting started in an exercise program is a good step towards having a healthy mind and spirit, to reduce stress and anxiety and maybe even, counteract negative behavior patterns with food and eating.

 

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