The health crisis has affected the morale of many people. Stress and anxiety levels continue to rise and food is quickly becoming a source of comfort. Working from home, with the constant accessibility of the pantry, also increases the risk of losing control. Why not work on your relationship with food?
Do you eat your emotions?
- Do you tend to eat when you feel a negative emotion (stress, anxiety, jealousy, envy, fear, etc.)?
- Do you eat in secret, away from the gaze of others?
- Do you sometimes eat large quantities of food in a short period of time?
- Do you feel guilty after eating?
- Do you have trouble recognizing your hunger and satiation signals?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, your relationship with food deserves to be improved.
Here are 7 tips from a pro!
- Keep a food journal
To become more conscious of why you eat, write a diary detailing episodes of uncontrollable cravings and try to analyze the situation. What caused the sudden urge to eat (often sweet foods)? Identifying the emotion is the first step to better understanding yourself and finding caring strategies.
- Avoid the all-or-nothing approach
Eating a food that you consider less healthy (chocolate, cookies, cake, etc.) can lead to automatic thoughts such as “while I’m at it… I might as well continue to devour everything I can get my hands on and I’ll start eating well again tomorrow”. You have to get rid of the all-or-nothing attitude, just because you ate a donut or a piece of chocolate doesn’t mean your day, let alone your week, is ruined.
- Change your automatic thoughts
Guilt is often part of the equation. Stop thinking of yourself as weak or unmotivated. Instead, change your negative thinking to an alternative positive thought. For example, instead of saying to yourself: I am a loser, I failed again in my attempt to diet by eating this dessert, tell yourself: this dessert was so tasty, I enjoyed it, it felt good to enjoy this dessert which reminds me of the one my grandmother used to make me.
- Get back to your real hunger
Although this exercise may take several weeks, it is an essential process to re-establish a good relationship with food. Start with your food journal, try to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 your hunger before a meal. Do the same exercise with your post-meal satiety. If your hunger level is still high, adding snacks between meals is beneficial. As for the level of fullness, you cannot be physically well after eating too much, try to get back to feeling full, without being at a level of physical discomfort.
- Eat with awareness
If you eat your emotions, you are probably used to eating on the corner of the counter, in the car, or in front of the TV. Make a switch to mindful eating, always sitting down, without distractions. Take the time to set a nice table, to enjoy each bite by appreciating the texture, the smells, the flavors. Put your fork down between each bite and enjoy the moment.
- Don’t have any forbidden foods
No food is forbidden, it’s all a question of how often you eat it. If you tell yourself that you will never eat French fries or chocolate again, you are imposing strict rules on yourself that can only lead to overeating. Cognitive restriction leads to compulsive eating. While fruits, vegetables, whole grains, white meats and fish, seeds and nuts are certainly healthy foods, there is also room to indulge in foods that may be higher in fat and sugar, but only occasionally, and most importantly, without guilt.
- Respond appropriately to emotion
Once you have identified the emotions that most often cause you to lose control, try to manage them in ways other than eating. For example, if it is loneliness that makes you eat, think about joining friends virtually, if it is stress, adopt relaxing practices like yoga or meditation.