|The Emotional Impact of Food |
by Barbara Neitlich, LCSW
Making a true lifestyle transformation or transition is never easy. Particularly when it comes to doing it with food, however, preparing yourself emotionally can be a tremendous advantage getting you into the right mindset and on the path to wellness.
Your decision to embark on this journey needs to be for your own health, happiness and well-being and not because other's want you to do it.
Food is a source of life. Our thoughts, feelings and emotions surrounding food began early on in our lives. How, when and where we are fed all contribute to our feelings and choices about food today. Many times our choices/behaviors today come from a place in the unconscious mind; a place that wants instant gratification and satisfaction. Telling that place to wait can often trigger a variety of emotions such as helplessness, frustration and disappointment.
The question then becomes, "how do you alter your mindset in such a way that you are making yourself emotionally available to change"? Here are some ideas of where to begin.
1.Understand your triggers and address them. What makes you eat out of emotion? Emotional eating almost always sabotages healthy choices. Food, particularly bad food, almost always serves as a distraction. Remember that thoughts relate to feelings. And feelings relate directly to eating habits.
2. Understand what is going on in your life and if this is a good time to make a lifestyle change. Be realistic and honest with yourself. If you have just changed jobs and moved, it may not be the right time to embark upon this type of challenge.
3. Set your short and long term goals and write them down. Each day, prior to falling asleep, take 5 minutes and review your goals. As you are reviewing them visualize how you will look and feel. Visualize yourself as already successful and having met your goal. Imagine all of the things you will enjoy when you feel healthier each and every day.
4. Tame your stress by doing what helps you. Of course exercise is wonderful for this and can only help you in your transformation emotionally as well as physically, however, there are other options that can increase positive feelings and reduce stress such as meditation, listening to music, taking a bath or getting a massage.
5. Seek group support or individual counseling if needed. Counseling can help you to identify your triggers, understand reasons behind emotional eating and derive the best type of coping strategies for you.
6. Don't be too hard on yourself. If you have a bad day then chalk it up to having a bad day. Don't allow one day to ruin your intention for transformation. Start with a clean slate the next day.
Barbara Neitlich, LCSW