Love and Unhealthy Eating
Everyone needs to eat. But what they eat is mostly up to them. Many people develop eating habits based on their individual ways of life, as in if they live alone, or if they have to plan a family meal three times a day. Food also plays a special role in many traditions and cultures, indicating that some eating patterns have an emotional component as well. Many times, that emotional component is love, in different forms.
For most people, eating habits have become just that — a habit. You eat pretty much the same way every day, so you don’t even think much about it. In not thinking much about how, or what, or how much, you eat, you can develop unhealthy eating habits without even noticing it. Once they are established, they can become hard to undo.
How Eating Habits Become Unhealthy
An easy way to develop unhealthy eating habits is to associate eating with your feelings, specifically about how much you feel loved, or if you feel loved at all. After coming home late from work, when you were the reason everyone had to work late, it seems justifiable to eat the entire Ben and Jerry’s ice cream container in the freezer. And boy do those mashed potatoes taste good when you were the last one picked for a basketball team at school. Again.
As you head for the mac and cheese over a salad every time that something, or someone, has got you down, it becomes harder and harder to undo that habit, that is, when you finally realize it has become one. But habits can be broken. Once you start to understand the “love-eating unhealthy” relationship you have developed with food, it becomes, not easy, but definitely easier, to start undoing the damage.
Keep A Food Journal
People often have the most success in changing unhealthy eating habits by keeping a food journal. Write down what you eat, how much and when you eat. Also keep track of what you were doing right before you ate, why you decided to get something to eat and how you were feeling at the time. Eventually, you should start to see a pattern between your feelings and what you eat.
Were you tired, stressed out, bored, depressed or just plain hungry? Did you make better food choices when you were in a better mood? A food journal can be a great indicator of more than just what eating habits you need to change. It may alert you to the fact that might be suffering from depression, not just a mere “down in the dumps” episode. Or maybe your anxiety triggers are on overdrive. For many people, food becomes a go-to coping mechanism to soothe the feelings that make them uneasy.
Take Small Steps Toward Change
In reviewing your food journal once a week or so, try to remember if the down times, when you reached for a candy bar, coincided with something taking place that made you feel unappreciated or unloved. If you start to notice this pattern in particular, it might be time to start caring for what’s going on in your head, as well as your stomach.
If you can start taking small steps toward changing how you feel about yourself, such as beginning to shed the negative feelings you have picked up from others, you may slowly start to see changes in your eating habits too. As you start to feel better about yourself, you may stop eating for comfort reasons, and in turn when you do eat, the choices you make will begin to improve.
When you do see those changes for the better begin to take place, be proud of yourself. The reason you feel better about yourself, and are eating better because of it, is all because of you. Nobody did it for you. You should never let anyone take it away.