Of the many ways we try to satisfy our emotional and spiritual needs, we often choose physical methods, some of which are destructive to our health, some of which are nourishing.
We may choose to eat something loaded with fat or sugar because it seems to soothe us when we are depressed or angry. Many foods work so well at this because their effects are immediate and dramatic.
Often a food that is not good for us will trigger a release of endorphins in a protective response to an allergy we may have to that substance. This is one of the explanations for addiction, whether it be to food or other substances.
When we crave something, it's not always because our bodies are trying to tell us we need a certain vitamin or mineral, it's because our bodies are reminding us of how good we felt the last time we ate that substance and how good it can make us feel again.
We're so used to expecting all of our needs to be met instantaneously, that we often do not take the time, even just a few moments, to decide if what we are putting into our bodies will really do us good or just make us feel good right now.
This is the root of emotional eating. We eat to change our emotions.
We eat to feel better, feel soothed, and feel satiated. But the effect wears off and we're left with the same issues and problems and feelings that led us to make the choice to eat something.
If we learn to take a few moments to breathe, think about our options, and pray for guidance, we can make choices that will help us to feel better in the long run instead of just in the moment. When we choose what we will eat with care, we will increase our health and well-being for more than just a few minutes.
Our weight will not balloon to a point at which we lose our self-worth, and we will no longer feel the sluggishness and cravings that return shortly after making impulsive and unhealthy eating choices.
When we take a few minutes to think about what we will eat and what we will do to take care of our bodies and ourselves, there are many ways we can change our behaviors and attitudes so that we can begin to nourish ourselves and move toward health and satisfaction and greater feelings of self-worth.
If we start with a few simple steps and incorporate them into lifestyle changes that are easy to make, feelings of satisfaction and well-being will come from knowing we have provided our bodies with nourishment, nutrients, and energy in the best and most efficient forms possible and have not clouded our bodies with empty calories and foods that will make us feel sluggish and uncomfortable.
Here are a few ways that we can change from unhealthy behaviors and eating habits to healthy ones:
1. When we get the desire to eat, we should ask ourselves if it is a true physical need or an emotional craving and if eating at this time will be healthy for us in the long run.
2. Before eating, we should decide if the foods that we are choosing are going to change our moods, thinking, or behaviors in ways that are not truly beneficial to us.
3. As we prepare to eat, we can think about where our food came from, how it was made, who made it, what its ingredients are, and what nutrients and nourishment it has to give us.
4. When we begin our day, we need to be aware what time our meals will be and that they will nourish us and give us, giving us energy to complete our busy days.
5. We can start the day by drinking water, making sure to have plenty of fluids to drink throughout the day to keep us hydrated, which in turn will help to satisfy some of our cravings.
6. We can take a trip to the market and spend our time in the fruit and vegetable section, admiring all of the natural bounty God has provided for our nourishment and health. We can select a few items, rather than thinking we do not have enough money, and then heading over to the snack aisle.
7. We can make sure that we have on our tables or counters a colorful array of fresh fruit and vegetables, which we can choose to eat any time without the negatives effects of a snack laden with sugar or salt.
8. We can keep our tables set and inviting, and we can sit down to our meals, rather than eating mindlessly in a rush.
9. We can slow down and savor each bite, enjoying the color, the texture, the aroma, taking in the knowledge that it can help us to be healthy.
10. As we learn to eat slowly and with awareness we will begin to once again notice and recognize the feeling of being full and satisfied before we have over indulged.
Here’s to happy, healthy, new eating habits!