Friday, April 1, 2016

The New Emotional Eating

You may have noticed that I often sign off at the end of my blog with the phrase "Enjoy Your Food".  I have talked a bit about that in past blogs but today I will focus on the fact that acknowledging the  emotion in our meals can actually improve our health and even help us lose weight.

Eating can become a mission to get as many good nutrients (fiber, antioxidants, protein) in as little time as possible. We also are afraid to become emotionally invested in food, because if we do, we may overeat or consume the "wrong" things. But, if we don't enjoy what we are eating, we're less likely to be satisfied and - surprise! - more likely to overindulge. Eating can and should be a joyful process.

Sharing a healthy meal with friends and family makes people happy and relaxed. And, it can lead to a leaner body. Carving out time to eat with with people you like lowers the production of the stress hormone Cortisol. Cortisol can interfere with digestion, trigger an inflammatory response and lead to mid-section weight gain.

Cooking a meal gives us a chance to decompress. We spend much of our day working on electronics and rarely make anything tangible. Cooking can connect us to the food. Imagine the feeling of kneading pizza dough, the scent of basil, the sight of ripe tomatoes. In preparing a meal, we create something we can taste, smell, touch and be proud of.

Focusing only on the nutrients and convenience factor of the foods we eat can sap the joy from eating. To get back to the pleasure of good food and connect to how it makes us feel, try these strategies.

Stop Multi-tasking
To monitor portion control, allow your brain to register how much you are eating. Sit at a table and turn off electronics. If you can sit outside, notice the sun, breeze, and birdsong around you.

Eat More Mindfully
Bring your full attention to your food. Experience the taste, texture and smell.

Cook When You Can
Even just tossing spaghetti with plum tomatoes or stir-frying vegetables with chicken makes you more emotionally invested in what you're eating.

Dine With Others
Almost nothing beats the joy of sharing good food with people you love. It is important to sit down at a table, experience a dish together and have a real conversation. Doing this connects us to the food and to each other. 

Eating is one the the greatest pleasures there is. Take the joy out of it and you end up feeling empty and unhappy. Redeem your meals and eat happy!

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food