TED recently posted an article titled “How to Change Your Relationship with Food & Stop Eating Your Feelings”. As an emotional eater interested in nutrition, I was curious to see what they said…
But my curiosity was killed in an instant. Here’s why.
The 3 key points in changing your relationship with food were:
- Reconnect with your hunger
- Feed your body what it’s craving
- Don’t use food as a reward or punishment
If you’re unfamiliar as to why I started The Daily Goalgetter, it’s because of vague advice like this.
It’s basically the equivalent of saying “don’t do the bad thing”. Which is obviously the desired choice, but a lot of the time it’s just not that simple.
So let’s break down each point and take a deeper look.
1. Reconnect with your hunger
I was hoping to read something about how to tell the difference between actual hunger and the “I really wanna eat something right now” feeling.
But they didn’t. The author quite literally tells you to only eat when you’re hungry.
Well, duh. But what if you feel ‘hungry’ often?
This is the trouble, most of us don’t know what genuine hunger feels like.
This is because we typically eat continuously throughout the day, so we’re very rarely hungry per se. But because of the foods typically consumed on the Western diet (high carb, processed & sugary), we get a feeling that we think is hunger – but isn’t really.
When you consume a high carb diet (bread, pasta, potatoes, rice etc.), the fuel generated by these foods get used up quickly by the body.
And the ‘bad’ bacteria living in your gut thrive off sugary, high carb foods.
So that ‘hunger’ feeling you get is really just your body & the ‘bad’ bacteria saying “I want more! I NEED MORE! GET ME MOOOOOOOORE”.
Which leads to you thinking you’re hungry and need to eat again. Though your body is far from starvation at this point.
So, how do you reconnect with your hunger then?
After switching to a low carb way of eating, I saw how much food ruled my life.
Because I wasn’t feeding the bad bacteria who craved carbs anymore, I ended up naturally eating less often and per meal.
Although the trouble with this way of eating is sometimes you might not get enough nutrition from your food as you’re eating less and feeling fuller, quicker. So, you need to be more mindful of what you’re feeding your body.
But cutting out the highly processed & sugary carbs is a good place to start – because that’s what’s likely causing you to check the fridge every half hour.
2. Feed your body what it’s craving
Now I don’t know about you, but my body often craves food typically classed as junk food. I never find myself craving salad, carrots, or almonds.
What are you to do with this piece of advice, then?
I expected to read about how if you’re craving chocolate, it means you’re needing magnesium, which is found in spinach… Something along those lines.
But no, they talk about a woman who realised her body wanted fruit & veg instead of take out.
So, how do you know what to eat then?
Michelle Yandle answers this question perfectly in her article, “Hungry? Not Sure What To Eat? Ask Yourself 3 Questions“.
Those 3 questions are:
- What do I want?
- What do I need?
- What do I have?
In response to the second question, what do you need, Michelle asks you how you want to feel AFTER eating, and to consider what you’ve eaten earlier in the day as well as yesterday.
For example, was yesterday a little light on veggies? Then that’ll be a good place to start.
3. Don’t use food as punishment or reward
I completely agree on not using foods as punishment, but as a reward…
Promotion at work? You know you’ll be celebrating with treats rather than a bowl of carrot sticks.
But on the other hand, I wouldn’t use food as a reward for how “good” you’ve been. If I want something yummy to eat, I’m gonna go ahead and eat it anyway.
And to be honest – if you’re using food to encourage you to stay motivated, I’d consider using another source of motivation.
You can even use these Health Affirmation cards on your vision board, as gentle reminders to go easy on yourself while you make healthier changes.
Changing Your Relationship With Food Summary:
- Reconnect with your hunger by eating less processed carbs (to avoid that fake hungry feeling)
- Feed your body what it wants by looking at what you ate earlier today & yesterday (bit light on the veg? Start there)
- Don’t use food as punishment or rewards (eat what you want, when you want)