Rules for Eating: #9 Stop the Emotional Eating Cycle

Food is not your friend. It is also not your enemy. It is fuel for the activities that lie ahead of you, and it helps re-fuel after depletion due to physical exertion and metabolic activity. Food was never intended to be a comfort or a companion…
For thousands of years, humans experienced periods of famine, sometimes for months or years. The abundance of food was cause for celebration. This life cycle lead to a variety of rituals and gatherings associated with harvest and bounty, and therefore socialization and food have always been intertwined.
In the modern world, there is no longer an absence of food. Post modernism has essentially assured that most of us in the United States have access to more food than ever before in human history. The phenomenon of deprivation is now self-inflicted by dieting which is biologically backward on all levels.

Check out Jerny’s previous Rules For Eating articles here:
Rule #1, Rule #2, Rule #3, Rule #4, Rule #5, Rule #6, Rule #7, Rule #8

Nourishment, that is essential in maintaining our species, is now the last thing that the average American thinks about before consuming large portions of food like substances. We are an overfed, under-nourished nation because we lost sight of what food is, and is not!
Food is essentially defined as an edible substance that was grown from nature, or a product from an animal that ate what was grown from nature. It seems simple enough until you realize that most of what we eat was made in a factory, or is from an animal that ate garbage and waste. I refer to this as “food-like product.” The food manufacturers make sure to add a lot of extra salt and fat to make it taste great and create a cascade of hormonal responses that virtually guarantee addiction.
jerny emotionalWe are addicted to food like substances because they alter the delicate balance of the digestive and hormonal systems, and offer no real nutrition. So we eat more, and more, and more because our bodies are still searching for nutrition.
In addition, we eat because we are bored, or happy, or sad, or procrastinating. Very rarely do we eat because we are hungry. This sets us up for failure and frustration, and a vicious cycle of malnourishment.
Until we learn to treat what we ingest as what it was intended to be, NOURISHMENT, we will grow ever fatter, and sicker. We will spend more of our hard earned dollars on medical intervention and pharmaceuticals on illness that can be cured (or better yet prevented) naturally with the things the Earth already gave us.

In order to change this, each of us needs to make the conscious choice to ask ourselves the following questions before we make food choices:
• Why am I eating? Am I bored? Thirsty? Angry? Stressed? Pressured to? Depressed? Procrastinating? Identify the feeling associated with the behavior. If you aren’t really hungry, Don’t start!
• What am I eating? Is it real, whole food? Is it a food-like substance?
• Is it nourishment? Does it provide me with protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber?
• Will it fuel me for the next several hours, or will I continue to eat just because it’s there?
• Is this refueling my cells with nutrition that they are desperately craving, or is it satisfying my urge to do something with my mouth?
• Am I substituting food for relationships? Am I eating to avoid emotional or physical intimacy with people?

These are not easy questions to stop and ask. The answers may not be pleasant, but you owe yourself the opportunity to be honest about what food represents to you and why. Identifying behavioral triggers and responses is a vital step in regaining control of your metabolism, your health and your life. Seek help if necessary to work through the issues related to eating. There are thousands of programs and professionals that are committed to assisting you.
At the end of the day, you are the result of the choices you make. Choose wisely!

Jerny Rieves, cscs, pes, ces, health education - health educator - Scottsdale