Fueled or Ruled by Food?

Discover the Role of Food in Your Life and Avoid the Emotional Eating Cycle

Emotions play a significant role in our food choices. Think about how often you would go to grandma’s house, and your favorite snack would be waiting for you. Food was associated with love! I recall visiting my grandparents and always making a cake. Every dinner was followed with a huge slice. Grandma would have crackers with cream cheese waiting for me and avocado sandwiches with the toast dripping with butter. It’s not difficult to drift back to those moments, associating those foods with comfort. Have you been there?

I have plenty of clients who engage in mindless noshing during anxiety ridden situations, when they are feeling angry, sad, bored, or even scared. They are physically and psychologically unhealthy because of these habits. It’s natural to eat in certain situations not because you are hungry but because it’s circumstantial. For example, you attend a wedding and have a piece of cake. When you feel at the mercy of food and eating becomes automatic when difficult emotions arise, it is problematic. Emotional eating can be viewed on a continuum. Most do not realize their behavior until we break down their eating process and identify when their eating occurs and under what circumstances.

The body goes through many hormonal changes on a daily basis. The food we eat helps to regulate many of these hormonal fluctuations. Eating is both psychologically and physiologically driven. Understanding how food will impact physiological reactions and subsequent emotional reactions can help to develop a plan for minimizing emotional “binges.” Even the most determined, strict, and diligent athlete, who is preparing for a competition and is under an incredibly stringent food intake plan, can struggle under pressure and end up eating to satisfy more than a biological need to quell hunger.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. When do I eat? I often have my clients fill out a daily food log in order to glean some physically and emotionally valuable information. Look for patterns in regards to specifically troubling times, places, situations, people, trigger foods, amounts consumed, and finally, the emotion experienced around food.

2. What are my eating triggers? Use episodes from the past.

3. What alternative behaviors can I engage in?

4. How can I reframe the negative thoughts to be more positive and less likely to create negative emotions? Thoughts lead to emotions, which lead to an action. Practice a new way of thinking to bypass the damaging emotion and behavior. Where the evidence is that your negative thought is true? Identify all the reasons why this is silly and the evidence for the exact opposite. Practice and you will notice how profoundly negative thinking affects you.

5. Have you acknowledged what you’re experiencing? Say it out loud. Give it a voice. “I’m feeling very pressured right now. This isn’t comfortable. I feel like eating a big slice of cake.” Examine where those feelings are coming from. What was the trigger?

6. Am I making a conscious decision? Am I aware? Remembering that eating is a choice can help us to slow down and be more present.

7. Am I being good to myself? Treat yourself like you would a dear friend or family member. If you make a poor decision, rather than berating yourself, admit your poor decision and plan for how you can do it differently the next time.

8. Am I hungry? If you are not eating balanced meals, you can experience cravings that you may mistake for emotional triggers. How often and in what proportions are you eating your calories?

You are worth taking the time to reflect on your habits, analyze your behaviors, and plan for more functional choices. Accept the challenge to understand the meaning of your behaviors and gain confidence at the same time.

*This article first appeared in Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Magazine

Kori L. Propst, MS; Personal Trainer, Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor

Kori Propst holds a BS in Exercise Physiology, an MS in Counseling, and is completing her PhD in Behavioral Medicine. She is a WNBF Pro Bodybuilder, Pro Fit Body, and Pro Figure athlete, personal trainer, and lifestyle and weight management consultant. As the Wellness Director for the Diet Doc she managed the weight loss consulting program and created the Mental Edge Program to aid individuals  in developing tailored strategies for optimal performance in their lives and/or for competing. She can be contacted at  kori@thedietdoc.com

Published by kpropst

Dr. Kori Propst is the Wellness Director and Vice President of The Diet Doc, LLC. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology, a master of science in counseling, and a doctorate in health psychology and behavioral medicine. Her education is enhanced by certifications in personal training, health coaching, mindfulness meditation, & lifestyle and weight-management consulting. She is also an ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) clinician. The Diet Doc’s lifestyle based programming encourages individuals to adopt an approach of structured flexibility. With encouragement and the science of motivation built into every step of the process, clients adapt their behaviors and mindsets to facilitate safe, effective, and enduring health practices. Their individual metabolisms, lifestyles, food preferences, health conditions, activity levels, goals, and daily schedules are keys to developing their personal plans for success that can stand the test of time. Kori specializes in nutrition and weight loss consulting incorporating a flexible approach and customized programming, physical and mental training, mind-body integration, optimal athletic performance, eating psychology and emotional eating coaching, mindset and peak performance coaching, and overall well-being. Kori is one of a few athletes who have earned professional status in all three divisions of Bodybuilding, Figure, and Fit Body within the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation. She has also been a runner-up at the WNBF World Championships twice, and has earned pro titles at the Mid-America Pro-Am and the Pro-Cup in Sacramento. Now an avid road cyclist Kori can be found among the hills of North County! Published in the Journal of Nutrition and various community magazines, Kori serves on the advisory board for Oxygen Women’s Fitness magazine, is a contributing writer for UltraFitness magazine, is an avid blog writer, teaches at national camps and retreats, and provides international webinars. Kori coauthored 50 Days to Your Best Life with The Diet Doc founder, Dr. Joe Klemczewski in 2014 and has a new book in the works about the threats to self-determination of individuals pursuing nutrition goals. The Diet Doc programming, including a sophisticated digital resource system for clients blazes a trail for permanent success by simultaneously addressing the necessity of having flexible options while still employing a structure that will help accelerate body fat loss and optimal performance.

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