Pizza. Wine. Cheese. Chips. Cookies. Ice cream. Bread. Pasta. These are the good things in life, don’t you agree? Although these foods taste delicious, eating too much of the good stuff sabotages our efforts to feel and look better, not to mention making us feel weak and out of control. So why do we do it?
Some of us eat too little throughout the day. By the end of the day, our body is STARVING for energy. In order to provide the quick energy our body needs, we feel the overwhelming urge to eat carb and sugar loaded foods instead of a healthy salad and vegetables.
Food also feels addictive to many of us. Studies have shown that sugar and junk foods flood the reward system in the brain with dopamine (our feel good hormone), stimulating the same areas as drugs such as cocaine. Have you ever felt cravings despite having just finished a fulfilling, nutritious meal? This is because cravings are not about satisfying our body’s need for energy, instead it is our brain calling for a “reward.” The more we stimulate this area, the more it demands to be “fed”.
Despite these setbacks, many of us have experienced short-term success in eliminating an unhealthy food such as sugar, alcohol or bread. Initially, the withdrawal symptoms felt almost unbearable (especially for the people living with us), but eventually the cravings lessened and we felt in control and free.
And then just like the bad relationship back in college, it happens. In a moment of stress, fatigue, overwhelm, loneliness, boredom, etc. we found ourselves considering the possibility to indulge in the forbidden food. Next thing we knew, we were huddled in the closet eating a tub of ice cream and extra cheese pizza with a red wine chaser while rocking back and forth in a sugar stupor asking ourselves, “how did we lose control again?”
We have to accept that we can’t fool biology. For some of us, certain foods will be stronger than our willpower. But this doesn’t mean you are doomed. After years of struggling with food addiction and binge eating, here is my number one tip for regaining power over those bad foods that hold us captive: CREATE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT.
Our home has to be a safe place. It needs to be structured to set us up to win, not lose. If unhealthy foods are in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer...we will eat them. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but we will eat them and most likely in copious amounts.
What if we only brought foods into our homes that supported our goals to be healthy and feel good about ourselves? What’s the worse thing that could happen? Aside from the withdrawal symptoms, we would probably lose a few pounds, have better digestion, feel more confident and sexy and have more energy for living life. Sounds like how we felt after leaving a toxic relationship.
Bottom Line: Just like the unhealthy relationship we had back in high school or college, it’s time to break-up with the foods that make us feel bad about ourselves. It’s time for these foods to move from a live-in love affair to a platonic acquaintance we enjoy every once in awhile outside of our homes. Our self-esteem and jeans will thank us!
For support on overcoming emotional eating, visit me at www.amberthiel.com.