What’s In Your Feed Bag?

6 May

My life revolves around food. I’m surrounded by it– figuratively and literally. Preparing for a competition, tracking is imperative. Planning of meals, anticipating the day ahead, identifying what needs to be prepped ahead of time and how much to set aside….all of these things are the normal daily occurrences of a competitor.

As a nutrition consultant, however, I am neck-deep in food-related activities with my clients as well. We talk about what is in food, why it’s a more or less healthy food, what foods might be good substitutions, recipes, grocery shopping, food label reading, supplementation, menu dissection, and travel planning.

Aside from these more practical aspects of food, we delve into the emotional side of food. It should not come as a surprise that many individuals who are struggling with overweight or obesity have emotional eating and addictive type behaviors related to feeding.  How many people do you know who binge eat who say they enjoy every moment of the binge? That they taste, with precision and clarity, the various high notes and low notes of the food, like an avid wine connoisseur, and feel the tantalizing textures of each morsel as it is consumed?

Emotional eating is the opposite of clarity, of presence, of in-the-moment mindfulness. Emotional eating takes one away from experiencing the right now.  Emotional eating clouds our minds, beats up our bodies, and is a message (and you won’t likely hear it until you’ve put down the peanut butter) that we need to listen more closely, REALLY listen, pay attention, and be WITH our selves.

Are you  lost? If you’re an emotional eater, I’ll answer that question for you. Yes, yes, you are. You’ve strayed so far away from who you are, that when you do experience yourself, you don’t trust that you can handle it. When you’re uncomfortable, what do you do? When you’re anxious, where do you turn? When you’re discouraged, what’s the first thing you think of reaching for?

How come food is the go-to? Does it help? When you’re done eating do you feel better?

What if you could learn to manage rather than masticate when your recognize your discomfort?

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you  know I’ve written numerous articles on binge and emotional eating, and the necessity of becoming more emotionally intelligent through emotion recognition, acknowledgement, and effective management. Mindfulness is a key component of this process and includes learning how to sit with the feeling in a nonjudgmental manner, understanding that it will pass, that it doesn’t define you, and that you are not the only one who has had it. In essence, it’s a process of destigmatizing it and neutralizing the power  you give to it.

Part of healthy coping, however, is also a form of distraction. No, there is nothing wrong with sometimes getting busy, taking your mind off of something that is bothering you, and giving yourself a “time out.” Distraction can be nurturing if it’s not an activity that is inherently damaging. It can “feed” you in a healthy way, without the use of food, and it’s good to have some activities that you enjoy and can eat up when the need arises.

I like to close my eyes and just breathe, come up with new ideas for my blog, read the magazines that have stacked up , surf the internet for creative recipes that I can eat and then also share with my clients, and make notes for the upcoming Diet Doc books that we’re writing.

Consider creating a bag of token items  that will remind you of your favorite emotionally nurturing activities.

It may just be what’s needed to move you away from asking “What’s in the cupboard?”

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