Food is a huge part of our life and many of us eat for reasons other than just hunger. Maybe we graze when we’re bored, for emotional reasons, feeling run down, or any other reason food seems to call our name. In the end, we’ve all eaten something when we weren’t really hungry. That may be fine from time to time, but if we consistently overindulge, we’re going to hurt our chances of remaining slim and healthy.
Emotional eating: you may fall into this trap when you’re out celebrating a football game with the gang, having pizza and beer. Or you might feel blue and soothe yourself with some chocolate. After all, isn’t it supposed to help in that case? That’s what some experts say, but it won’t solve the underlying issues you’re facing, such as loneliness, anger or despair at not getting a particular job. You have to connect the dots and find different outlets for your stresses.
Boredom: this is a big one many people face. There’s nothing better to do and you start thinking about what’s in the fridge might taste good right at the moment. If you can identify boredom as an eating trigger, then try to keep yourself busy in some way with fitness, taking a walk or chatting with your mate. It might not sound as appealing right now as your favourite food, but keeping your mind occupied is a proven way to prevent overeating.
Food is within easy reach: how many times has a well meaning co-worker left a jar of chocolates or some Timbits nearby for other workers to enjoy. It’s meant as a goodwill gesture, but in the end, it’s no such thing because a temptation within easy reach leaves almost anyone powerless over time. It’s too easy to sneak a handful and justify that it will stop there. It won’t, because it tastes so good! Just a few more, you reason, and then a few more. By the time you check yourself, 6-8 Timbits have hit the gullet and started the guilty complex. Fix the problem by moving the offending food or ask co-workers to play nice and keep it away.
Special occasions: this one is bad because is seems there’s ALWAYS an occasion that just can’t be passed up – a birthday, anniversary, holiday, baby shower, graduation, a night out – you get the point! Most of these are nutritional bombs because they involve so much junk food and alcohol. If you can’t skip the temptation, do yourself a favour and skip the celebration.
In any situation, ask yourself honestly why you’re eating. Are you really hungry – like stomach growling hungry which is true hunger? Or are you staving off the coming hunger by preemptively eating sooner? My point is, knowing what to eat, how to eat, what time of day to eat, where to eat, and who to eat with is meaningless if you don’t know how to tell if you’re actually hungry. And that’s the problem: most people don’t relate eating with hunger. They relate eating with everything EXCEPT hunger – frustration, covering up some type of emotional pain or rejoicing by celebrating an event with co-workers. But again, these are the wrong reasons.
Healthy eating is absolutely about what you’re eating, but more importantly it’s about what you’re eating for. Eat when you’re truly hungry and because you’re truly hungry. That’s the foundation for developing a healthy relationship with food.