Every one of us has an intimate and emotional bond with the foods we eat. It may be healthy or dysfunctional, but make no mistake, this significant, long-term relationship impacts the choices you make when it comes to food. Understanding how you relate to food is often the lynchpin to losing unwanted pounds and keeping them off. Consider how the following typical food associations might be affecting your eating habits:
Probably the best-known association to food is that it is a source of comfort. The reason that certain foods like chicken soup, macaroni and cheese, and apple pie and are called "comfort foods" is that when we eat them we feel a sense of calm that goes beyond the taste. During times of emotional stress and unease, we tend to turn to these comfort foods instinctively because they usually have pleasant associations from childhood. However, when we blindly overeat in order to feel better it can be a big problem. This is known as emotional eating.
Some foods we eat are all about connection with important people in our lives. If you are feeling disconnected from loved ones because of a change in your life circumstances or due to a loss, seeking out these types of foods may temporarily help you feel a sense of connection … but will also expand your waistline.
The biggest issue most people have when it comes to food is about how we see and define ourselves. For example, you may want to lose weight and feel better about yourself, but when you start to perceive the changes in your figure and the way the world views you, you may become uncomfortable with the "new you." This discomfort may lead you to instinctively head back to old patterns of unhealthy eating in order to recognize yourself and feel safe in your old identity.
If any of these food associations ring true, you can decide to change your relationship with food and eating habits in order to get the emotional satisfaction without gaining the extra pounds.
One thing that all of these food associations have in common is that they are about the past: previous experiences of comfort, prior connections with others, and a past relationship with yourself. Instead of eating out of emotional need, consider using your innate creativity to strengthen emotional bonds that can give you a new way of feeling emotionally satisfied so you are less likely to turn to familiar and unhealthy foods to fill the void.
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