The Emotional Impact Of Food

Breaking up in a toxic relationship can sometimes be hard can’t it? Leaving behind someone that has left us feeling good, stroked our emotions and feelings, been there for us in tough times, yet somehow has not always been the best thing for us.

Why do we struggle to leave when we know, really, it’s best for us?

Yet we continue on day after day allowing ourselves to be dragged through it because its comfortable, familiar, and makes us feel good. Sometimes really good.

Now, imagine if you will, that’s our relationship with food.

Of course we can’t totally break it off, but we may need to set some clear and healthy boundaries with it.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all have some type of relationship with food in our lives.

Of course those relationships and how they look largely depend on alot of things.

How we were raised.

I’d say that is most likely one of the biggest factors. How was food treated in your home while you were growing up?

Was it healthy and nutritious? Were you taught balance and good eating habits?

Were there the usual times of holidays and celebrations where it was expected you’d eat another piece of pie? ( cause hey Thanksgiving!) And that’s allowable 😄

Or was it the complete opposite with eating in excess and indulgence the norm? Eating way past the point of your hunger being satisfied until you were “stuffed “?

Perhaps it was somewhere in between.

Where ever you land, don’t underestimate how that has shaped your behavior with food today.

We’ve trained ourselves.

Like anything in our lives, we train ourselves in routines of habit.

Times we get up or go to bed. How we brush our teeth, prepare for our day, how we organize things…..it’s all set habits and routines we’ve formed.

Our eating and food choices are no different…..good or bad.

You’ve trained yourself to get snacks at the convenience store or trained yourself to load your shopping cart with fruits and veggies. Or you make a stop for morning coffee with or without a donut.

Perhaps it’s the drive thru coming home from work for a “snack” before dinner.

Whatever it is, you may have built habits with food to help you cope with emotional issues.

To do things differently will mean an intentional, purposeful, act to rebuild new positive and healthy habits.

Awareness leads to success

It hit me like a ton of bricks a few years back on this journey I’m on.

I had grown up in and with a household of emotional eaters.

Food was used for everything.

Happy? Sad? Celebrating? Angry? The weather changed? Boredom? Loneliness?

Comfort food wasn’t just a vague description….it was used to feed emotions.

Becoming aware of that made me even more mindful of my eating habits. Although not to the extreme of many family members, I had my own Achilles too.

If I found myself roaming looking for something I’d first think ” am I hungry?”

If that was a solid no, I removed myself and tried to assess what the reality was that I did need.

As I got further down the road of understanding myself, and being more mindful, food had a lot less pull to do it.

To this day, I still need to be mindful. Ingrained habits can take a long, long time to retrain, but it can be done.

You simply have to be real with yourself about those weak areas and then be willing to discipline yourself in new ways.

Oh. And don’t quit just because you don’t “get it right” immediately. Small daily steps lead to big victories

The mental shift

My brother and I were talking recently about similar things. He has been on his own journey. He’s lost a ton of weight and been faithful to strength training and learning to embrace cardio a bit more 😁

I’m super proud of his efforts. But it hasn’t been without his own struggles along the way too. His weakness for sweets, eaten often in secret, was a huge thing to work at overcoming.

He has had to take huge steps in the mental awareness area to continue being successful.

We talked about people who had lots of weight to lose ( like 100s of lbs) and the modern day quick fixes of surgeries and extreme diets….and how the majority failed and only regained the weight lost.

Why?

There was never a change in their mental behavior. There was never a shift in their relationship and behavior with food.

Whatever underlying problems drove them to eat and use food as an emotional coping tool were still there.

Without that being changed, you will continue in all the negative behaviors and patterns that led to becoming over weight.

The same is true for all of us. We have to know, recognize and understand why we do what we do with food.

Eating to ease the things inside of us is a negative way to deal with life, yet for many it becomes a coping mechanism for deeper issues.

If you struggle, here are things to consider.

Know your triggers. What causes you to reach for food? Keeping a notebook might be helpful to look back at to help you see patterns of behavior.

Are there times of day you feel weaker or less likely to make better choices?

What are your personal family dynamics with food? Healthy or not so healthy?

Do you mindlessly eat? Do you eat food without being present and enjoying it? Or do you just go through the motions?

Are you always thinking of food? Really, we shouldn’t be. If you eat adequate food ( enough to satisfy your appetite without over eating) and it’s nutritionally dense healthy food you won’t be hungry. Putting food in a proper position in your mind is important to success too.

Be patient and kind to yourself on the journey! Know you won’t change over night but be willing to keep moving forward and not give up.

These are just a few suggestions, you may think of others.

For any diet or weight loss program to be succesful, leading to a permanent lifestyle change your mind must be on board to a healthier you. You must deal with and let go of negative behaviors and build in new positive ones.

If your mind is not changed, you will keep repeating the cycle over and over again.

Would you agree or disagree our minds play the most important part of weight loss?

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The Benefits Of New Habits

old-habits-uc-san-diego

 

So I got to my fav coffee cave before a crazy storm broke loose. I love sitting and watching the clouds gather and hear the thunder rolling in.  I love watching people come running in, even with the skies emptying around them.

It definitely makes for interesting people watching.

I sipped my hot coffee watching the dark sky,  thinking about what on earth I wanted to talk to you about in this post… shocking … I know…as I’m never at a loss for words 😉

I mean, really, there are so many topics I could discuss with you.

I thought I might discuss the topic of habits with you and how important those are in your quest to lose weight and get fit.

Let’s just review the definition …

Habit: is a routine or behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously .

Habit formation is the process by which the behavior, through regular repetition, becomes automatic or habitual.

Now let’s think about that in terms of how you eat, what you eat, when you eat. Let’s think about it in terms of exercise and if you get it done.

Your life is smack full of habits.

The time you get up for work. The things you do in the exact way getting ready in the morning.  How you brush your teeth. How you take your coffee. The things you do in your day, many are habits. What you eat. What you don’t eat.

So many of the things you do in your life are driven by habits. Things you’ve done over and over until you do them mindlessly without thinking about it.

This… is where you want to get with the disciplines of exercise and eating well.

If it’s not something you’ve done then you will have to practice at doing it. It means if your “habit” is walking into a convenience store and buying chips and a coke, you’re going to have to intentionally, purposefully, restructure a new habit to replace that negative one.

And trust me, you will have to be completely intentional to make it happen.  And it will take time. But each time you make a better choice you get further along building that habit in you.

If your habit is to go through a drive thru for fast foods, you will have to intentionally keep your car driving on by.

You can remind yourself, you won’t be dead from hunger before you get home. You can remind yourself that you won’t accomplish your health goals if you feed yourself that.  You can also be proactive and maybe keep some healthy snacks in your car if you feel you need something .

This will be an action you are proactive at doing.

When it comes to exercise, again, it’s not a natural thing for you to go out and do activities that make you sweat or breath hard. Most people want to avoid it.

This is where you will have to be absolutely intentional about getting up and getting out.

Perhaps, in the beginning, you might just get yourself to the store and get some good shoes and some athletic clothes to do your thing in. For me, the very act of getting in my athletic clothes and slipping my shoes on puts me in the mental place of what I’m about to do.

Maybe, it’s looking at your week and planning it out and determining what you are going to do and when. What are your days like? What times are best for you?

Then you make a commitment to it. And you will have to be intentional. Purposeful.  No excuses.

New habits don’t happen.  Remember our definition ….

“Habit formation is the process by which the behavior, through regular repetition, becomes automatic or habitual.”

If you want to build new habits ( like exercising and eating better) you will have to practice and keep repeating until it becomes automatic for you. You won’t think about it.

You will do it. You will want to do it.

I often get asked how I do it? I’ll tell you.

It’s been several years of constant repetition that has built new habits in me.

I can’t IMAGINE not exercising now. I feel worse when I don’t, than when I do.

It has been days of making myself get geared up…get out.. and do it. It has been overcoming any goofy excuses that would distract me.  It’s knowing I’ll feel better if I do follow through, mentally and physically.

When it comes to food, I know how much better I feel, how much energy I have and how good I feel about myself when I nurture my body and feed it good food.

It makes passing on junky food or not so healthy food lots easier.  I feel more “off” now if I do eat foods I’m not used to.

It’s a good place to be.

It’s taken time. It’s taken practice. Lots of practice building new habits. But they are habits I’m glad to have now.

I wish I could tell you there’s just this “quick fix” that shapes up years of negative behaviors in you.

There isn’t.

But I’ll tell you this, if you are persistent and make intentional choices to do positive things, you WILL build new habits, and that is something that will make a huge difference in your life. Just like you’ve built negative habits, you can rebuild new positive ones.

Tell me, have you built a new habit in your life that’s good? How has that impacted you?  What habits would you like to change or improve on ? Remember, having a plan and intentionally following through puts you on the road to new habits.

 

The Emotional Roller Coaster Of Eating

diet-rollercoaster

 

 

Oops you did it again. Somehow, that bag of Cheetos just disappeared. Did you eat that many? the BAG?? It’s gone ??

You immediately feel the guilt and stuff the bag in the can… hating yourself….the familiar feeling settling in over you..

ok maybe Cheetos aren’t your “thing” perhaps you’ve set out to only have a little of something and somehow, before you know it, it’s gone.

The ice cream. The cookies. The bottle of wine.

Perhaps it’s at meal time. You determine you will eat what you need and no more, yet by the time you push away, seconds have graced your plate even though your hunger was satisfied a long time ago.

Or your at the office brunch/breakfast/lunchy thing where there’s usually a plethora of crappy food with a lone veggie tray hanging out at the end of the table like an ugly step child. You think you’ll only get “a little” of something yet before you know it your plate is overflowing and so is your self imposed food guilt.

Been there. Done that.

Guilt. Remorse. 

All or Nothing.

Eat to much…feel bad about it… eat more to feel better about it…feel worse. Then go to starve and deprive mode.

Repeat guilt and remorse cycle using food to comfort your crappy feelings from doing it.

 

Where do you get off the roller coaster ??? It’s a horrible place to be yet, so many of us live there or have lived there.

Life shouldn’t be lived that way nor should we have such a distorted relationship with food and eating.

We’re in it together for our entire lives .. we need to be able to eat, be satisfied, and enjoy food in reasonable portions without feeling guilty.

Why do we behave this way?

We’ve been conditioned that foods are “good” or “bad”. We’ve been told if we need to lose weight we must “diet” and that means removing all tasty foods we love from our presence and not having them for a determined length of time, if ever, again. It means suffering…doing without…having no fun… restricitions and parties where you don’t get to eat cake while everyone else does and you sit on the sidelines forlornly stuffing a celery stick in your mouth.

A horrible, miserable existence in the pursuit of health and balance with food.

Over time, and on my own terms I learned it just doesn’t have to be that way. When I started my journey now ( 8 years ago) one of the things I rebelled against was some set “diet’ that told me what I could eat and couldn’t eat.

What if I didn’t feel like eating that particular “thing” at that meal?? What if there was a birthday party and I wanted a little cake? Why is every single, stupid, diet 1200 calories? Like we all have the same caloric needs??

No, no, no. I’m to much of a rebel and free spirit to be locked into some diet. So I set off determined to do things my way.

What did that look like?

First, I determined nothing was “off limits”. You might be thinking…”wow… wouldn’t you just go crazy and wolf down a bag of chocolate or something?”   No, ’cause I’m a big person in charge of myself and I can be trusted I won’t do that. .. and you’re a big person too with the same abilities.

Somehow, mentally doing that, took the power away from food… I knew it was there… I knew if I wanted it I could have it.. I just made choices based on whether or not eating those foods would help me get closer to my goals. 

Food has a tremendous power over us… we need to be the one in control of it… not the reverse.

There was a whole lot of freedom in that… there still is. Without that restriction on me it was easier to not be thinking of things I “couldn’t” have. I learned to enjoy my meals, to appreciate my food. To eat and move on to my next thing… which wasn’t obsessing over the next meal or when I could eat again.. I stopped thinking so much about food..

pure freedom…..

Second, I wasn’t obsessing over calories. I learned to start listening to my body and feed it enough food to be satisfied but not to full. I learned to feed it when it was growling and hungry. I didn’t eat just because “it was time” by the clock. I didn’t stuff “seconds” in just because it tasted good.

Yes, there were times I had a meal that I felt like wasn’t helping me to my goals. Yes, I was fully aware of it but I made a choice to have it and I made a choice to just keep moving forward each day.  I didn’t quit or beat myself up. I didn’t go just grab more food cause I felt like in some way I had “failed” so why bother?

Listen, you fail when you freaking quit.

I took ownership for my eating habits. I didn’t make excuses to myself for poor choices…but like anything… it’s a learning process. You do it till it just becomes second nature to you… an ingrained habit.

I learned to navigate dinners out, family gatherings, birthday parties etc. I ate food in moderation. I had cake! A small piece is just as satisfying if not more, than a big piece. I learned to get picky about what I ate… if I didn’t love it… I learned to pass on it and not take it cause it was there. There was again, more freedom in making my food selections and knowing I was in control.

And somehow, day after day, making intentional choices I lost the weight. As time went on it got easier and easier to leave behind things that once might have landed on my plate. Healthy foods began to be what I craved over other things.

There was no guilt or remorse. No shame cycle with food. Eat. Be satisfied. Move on.

I had meals. I allowed myself treats when I realllyy wanted something. I learned a small treat was satisfying.

It was a slow process of making changes and learning what worked for me. I didn’t need a “diet”. I didn’t need restrictions.  I didn’t need to live the rest of my life on a guilt and remorse roller coaster for what I ate.

Neither do you. Learn about yourself. Commit to making small daily changes that will become life long habits. Learn to listen to your body and respect it by treating it well…mentally and physically. Get off the roller coaster of guilt and remorse with food… life isn’t meant to be lived that way. It’s meant to be lived in freedom.