Put it down guys! Stop eating that donut. Put down the oreos, and for god’s sake stop eating that chunky monkey.
Just Kidding! But, you know what I mean.
Food is everywhere, all the time, and always in our faces. Its on TV, the internet, in magazines, on billboards, buses, and taxies. You get where I’m going with this. We are a culture that enjoys food and I don’t see anything wrong with that. However, I see a problem with the way many of us approach food.
Let’s all take a minute and be thankful for the abundance of food in this country. Now, real talk time.
A lot of us are in an emotional relationship with food. We need it to make us feel better. After a long day of work at a stressful job, we turn to cake, cookies, or fast food. I would eat a big bowl of chocolatey delicious cereal. It was crunchy and cold and amazing. Afterward, I would feel so much better. Who cared that worked sucked? I felt better and more relaxed, even happy afterwards.
Who out there hasn’t seen one of the millions romantic comedies with at least one scene of a girl sitting on the couch, her faced streaked with masacra, eating a tub of ice cream? What’s wrong with this picture? Subconsciously, we see this and relate the pain of a breakup to ice cream and think, “ice cream will make me feel better.”
And its true, ice cream will make us feel better. Salty, sugary, and calorically dense food will make us feel happier after we eat them. Our brains need the sugar and fat to cope with the stresses of life. As humans evolved, we needed to gorge ourselves when food sources were available to survive. We had real stresses, real life and death situations, and a real need to eat as much as we could whenever we could find food.
Now, we are constantly stressed from work, school, and just life in general. Our brains still crave these sugary, high calorie foods to cope with outside stresses. The only down side is that we are no longer fighting for our food. It’s everywhere, in abundance. We don’t need to gorge ourselves constantly, but its within our nature to still do so.
In addition to being driven by human nature to EAT ALL THE THINGS when we are stressed, we are also surrounded with foods designed to make us want more. Who out there hasn’t felt crappy and tired and then drank a soda, or as we say here in the south a coke. Notice I don’t say Coke or Coca Cola, because coke is a catch-all here for soda, but I digress.
So, the soda makes you feel better right? Then, a hour or two later you need another one because that crappy feeling has crept back in. Remember my story about eating cereal after work? Well, the same thing happened there. The sugar was elevating my mood. That’s right, sugar was making me happy and “feel better.” What we don’t understand about this happy feeling is that its just not real.
Its a fake happy. You are using sugar to help you feel better, rather than just feeling better on your own. Our emotional connection with food stems from the idea that we will feel better and happy, but really we are feeding ourselves to death to feel happy. We are poisoning our bodies with crappy food to feel better, when true happiness lies outside of the food.
That’s right. When we step away from the comfort of food we are finally able to see what is really bothering us. Instead of eating an entire pizza when you get home from work because you had a terrible day, why don’t you take a walk and think about why your day was so stressful? Do you enjoy your job? Is a coworker just getting under your skin? Are customers just plain mean?
What if you came to terms with your emotions and understood that these feelings can go away by themselves? You can over come the stresses in your life without using food. Believe me, if I can do it, you can too. I promise.
We all have to learn to be productive with our feelings. Fortunately for me, I found out I was gluten intolerant. I could not longer turn to my favorite foods to make me feel better. I had to chose between eating my emotions away and then spending weeks being sick or choosing to deal with them. I had to break the endless cycle of sugar highs followed by dangerous lows. Its not always easy to break these habits, but it is completely doable.
But, don’t forget to still enjoy food. Think about the way Italians enjoy their food. They sit and eat and talk and drink copious amounts of really good wine. They take their time and enjoy their lives. Also, don’t forget to look at what their eating. They are probably sitting around a table full of meats and veggies and sometimes bread. They eat very fresh, very real foods. Can you image going to Italy and sitting around at a cafe on a beautiful street eating a Big Mac? I don’t think so.
So enjoy real food, love your life, and remember stress, sadness, and anger happens, but so does happiness. Emotions come and go, but you only have this one body and this one life to live. So, live it well my friends.
Lift Strong. Live Radiantly.