Sep 13, 2011

Why Am I Eating?!

Serious question: have you ever asked yourself "why am I eating"? Have you ever found yourself snacking when you're not actually hungry? If so, you're not alone. When the sometimes turbulent stresses of life hit, food can become a coping method for many people. But of course a dietitian would never experience this. Pfft...right.

True confession: after a particularly stressful week, I found myself standing at the mercy of an open pantry feeling a serious need to munch. Anything sweet, crunchy or salty beckoned my name. After I got down a few crackers, I thought to myself "why am I eating?". After recognizing my food temptations were not hunger-related, I shoved my snack back into the pantry before the damage was too bad! Phew!

It reminded me there are so many reasons why people eat. Of course we eat for physical nourishment, but it's much more complicated that that. People eat as a result of boredom, stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, too little sleep and more.

Understanding your body and paying attention not only to what you eat but why you eat is important for ensuring a nutritious diet and dealing with stress in a healthy way. If this hits home for you, try these things:

1. Write down when you feel cravings and what you ate. This way, you'll be able to determine what causes you to eat and what changes you can make.

2. Relieve stress in other ways. Try exercising, reading, writing, listening to music or calling a friend.

3. Recognize the physical signs hunger. Practice eating only when you are hungry, that is when you feel hunger pains or other physical cues. Learning to recognize signs of true hunger will allow you to eat more for physical nourishment rather than emotional comfort.

Food is - and should always be - an enjoyable and gratifying experience. That said, I wish you happy and healthy eating! 

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