Tag Archives: Overeating

The Food-Mood Link

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Citation: Newswise Life Wire

Peter Pan

Peter Pan

Remember Peter Pan? He sprinkled some of Tinkerbell’s Fairy Dust on Wendy, John and Michael Darling and as soon as they managed to think happy thoughts, poof, they became light as a feather and were able to take flight!

Well, I can’t promise that you’ll grow wings and take to the skies, but according to a new report published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology called “Better Moods for Better Eating: How Mood Influences Food Choice,” you can start yourself on the path to becoming as light as a feather. https://cornell.box.com/MoodsAndFoods

Our moods absolutely impact the way we eat. The study indicates that not only do our moods have something to say about the type of foods we choose to eat, but also how much we consume.

Professor Brian Wansink, from Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and co-author of the paper claims the study proves that people turn to food to feel good. This means we eat to keep ourselves happy and also to make ourselves feel happy. So, here’s the logic. If we are already feeling happy, we are more likely to eat make more healthful choices when it comes to food.

Mindfullness3

Just a quick plug for my previous blogs about mindfulness and eating: For those of us who deal with weight loss issues and struggle to maintain a healthy weight, we now know exactly what it is that works against us if we don’t practice becoming more mindful about what we eat. We want to feel happy and we believe that in some way, eating will help us attain that goal. We can intercept the cycle of reaching for foods that may not be the ‘smarter’ choice, through mindfulness.

Associate Professor Meryl P. Gardner, Wansink’s partner and co-author from the University of Delaware’s Lerner College department of Marketing, believes “when we think about the future, it’s almost as if we are physically taking a step back, enabling us to see our more fundamental values – like health and nutrition. We can use that to make wiser choices rather than letting our moods dictate our behavior.”

Yep! That sounds like mindfulness to me.

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

So, here’s what we now have more reason to know…Being mindful about how we are feeling, checking in under our own hood, and thinking ahead a bit can really help us eat healthier and manage our weight better. The happier we can feel before its time to eat, the more likely we are to choose well and reap the benefits of feeling and looking better.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Happy Mastercating!

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Horace Fletcher

Horace Fletcher

I am very carefully typing the nickname of Horace Fletcher. Mr. Fletcher lived during the Victorian Era and was a health food enthusiast who believed that one of the best ways to experience healthier eating was to take more time chewing the food that we ate.

He was nicknamed “The Great Masticator.” And now almost a century after his death, that we are discovering reasons to believe Mr. Fletcher may have been quite right.

Studies that are being researched through the Harvard School of Medicine are providing data that not only suggests why learning to become more mindful and focused on the way we eat; not only the foods that we eat but the actual method in which we eat including what we devote our attention to as we eat and what we think about when we consume our meals.

Chewing food carefully and slowly as Horace Fletcher advocated more than a hundred years ago, provides us with a few benefits.

• The most obvious is that we give our body the time it needs to digest what we eat and to process the feeling of having had enough, satiation. Once we know that we’ve had enough, we are likely to avoid overeating.

• By breaking food down into smaller pieces, which is what happens the more we chew our food, we give our digestion system an easier job since the particles of food we are digesting are smaller. This puts less strain on our system of digestion and researchers are discovering this is a healthier way to eat.

Mindful

Mindful

It seems Horace Fletcher’s suggestion of chewing our food more also would provide us with more time to think…and now we are just tapping the surface with the research that is coming out in favor of practicing mindful eating as a method for weight-loss and eating disorders that may be more helpful than most extreme and costly methods.

I believe over-eating is in an entirely different category than most other addictions such as alcohol or narcotics or cigarette smoking. What makes it different is the word (and the meaning and behavior associated with the word “over” when we speak of over-eating.)

I remember the day the doctor told my father he needed to quit smoking. My father was a military man and he had an inner strength I haven’t seen very often in my life. He took the pack of Winston 100s out of his shirt pocket, placed them in the glove compartment in his car and told me he would never touch them again. Those same cigarettes were in the glove compartment of his car the day he died.

Over-eating is an entirely different experience. We still need to eat and sit down to meals and be around food. Nothing is intended to stop other than the “over-doing” part of the eating. It is as if we are suddenly and remarkably supposed to be able to exhibit a level of control that we have not successfully been able to find.

The idea of mindfully eating is something I will write about in the near future, explaining more about what it is and how it creates a healthier and calmer approach to eating, turning the feeling and attitude of desperation or anxiety that food produces for people with eating issues into a sense of serenity and a feeling of more self-control and balance, enabling more healthful eating habits to emerge.

The other thing mindful eating permits is moderation and a gradual, slow and achievable step-by-step schedule to improving eating habits and behaviors. By starting with just one day a week or one meal every other day or some other schedule that works best for you, mindful eating can be started slowly in an experimental way where you can see what works best for your individual needs.

The more we think about what we do, the more we can demonstrate conscious effort and energy toward it and the more focused and directed our energy and efforts are, the better we get at it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Your Mindfulness-Food Connection

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Weight Loss

Weight Loss

Once more, mindfulness is being totally present and in the moment and avoiding judgment. So how do we connect our increased practice with mindfulness to our eating behaviors and attitude to food?

Sadly, we let our lives become so busy that things become automatic, even some of the things we should devote more of our focus and energy toward. Eating is one of them. Even if a person doesn’t have issues with overeating, it has been proven that being mindful to our food and digestion when we eat is much healthier for us.

If we teach ourselves to eat mindfully, we give ourselves the opportunity to examine what we think and how we feel which in turn affects the way we eat or don’t eat. If we can gain an understanding of this process (which is entirely unique for each one of us and is subject to change at any given time), it only stands to reason, we are that much ahead of the game at being able to better manage things we don’t believe to be in our best interest.

If I ask you what you ate today before noon and you were honest with your response, odds are it is the same thing you ate yesterday or the day before. We tend to eat habitually, many times, the same thing each and every day. This habitual eating gets us stuck in a routine that we may not even be aware we are in.

How about if I asked you what your last meal smelled like or what the texture of the main ingredient in your last dinner felt like? It is more than likely you would have to think about it now and this would be the first and only time you will have given it this type of attention. When we eat mindfully, we experience each bite of the food we eat. Try it!

Texting

Texting

What about the percentage of your attention and focus that went into your last meal or snack? Were you in texting someone while munching on your salad? What about your last snack? Were you reading something that took up much of your focus? If you want to eat mindfully, you will need to just eat when you eat.

Do you pay attention to how hungry you are before and while you eat? If you set yourself up some type of internal scale with which to measure your degree of hunger during your meal, you can reconnect with when you have had enough to eat to satisfy your hunger and avoid overeating (or at least have a better chance at avoiding it).

Magic of Mindfulness

Magic of Mindfulness

Something mindfulness has been super effective at teaching me is that a thought is just a thought and a feeling is just a feeling. Neither are facts. If you eat mindfully, you also will be more aware of the thoughts and feelings you experience while you eat and be more able to avoid incorrect thinking that could negatively affect how much or the type of foods you choose.

Practicing the mindfulness eating connection routinely and effectively can be one of the most powerful tools in your weight loss or healthy weight maintenance toolkit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Stressed? Eat THIS, Not THAT

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Chocolate Cravings

Chocolate Cravings

David Neal, Ph.D, the founding partner of Empirica Research and a psychologist who researched and co-authored a new, revealing study about people who eat during times of stress, presented his findings in Chicago at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Expo.

Neal’s findings contradict conventional beliefs about the types of foods people eat when stressed and the way people eat when they are stressed. Previously, it was believed that people who are stressed out opted for high-calorie, low-nutrient types of comfort foods. However, findings indicate that this is not the case at all. Previous beliefs indicated cravings dictated the way people ate when stressed out.

According to Neal’s study, however, “people default to what their habits are under stress, whether healthy or not.” The findings indicated that habits don’t change in high-pressure situations. And habits are cued by context, automated actions, time pressure and low self-control. They cause us to disregard rational and motivational drivers and take up approximately 45 percent of our daily lives.

Stress

Stress

This means that stress eating is not controlled by cravings, but rather by habit. We go into automatic pilot mode and fall prey to behaviors that we perform without intention or awareness. One is tempted to go out on a limb here and imagine similar findings with the way stress controls other behaviors we exhibit, not only those related to food. But for the sake of this post, lets get back to the implications for stressful eating behaviors.

Cravings tend to indicate some type of physiological basis, something that happens to us as opposed to something we have much say over. Habit, although often times quite strong and influential, is something we have developed and something that can, with determination and commitment, we can change and combat.

So, hopefully, these findings will provide many stress eaters with a bit of hope as they realize they have more of a say over their food choices than they believed they had, even when they are eating out of stress.

Eating Too Much

Eating Too Much

What screams out at me is that if we undertake efforts to practice mindfulness and learn how to over-ride behaviors that are performed out of habit; we can regain the element of choice that we have lost. We can practice being present and in the moment so we can opt for foods that are more nutritional and lower in empty calories. We can reach for a healthful snack that is high in satisfying protein rather than empty carbohydrates that pack on unwanted weight and still leave us wanting more.

So, not only does David Neals’ new study help empower us by reminding us of our choices and options, but it also validates what many of us have already experienced in our own efforts in achieving a healthier, lower weight.

By decreasing poor food choices from our environment, so we can’t reach for them as often at times of stress, we can help ourselves develop healthier habits that won’t sabotage our weight-loss efforts when stress overtakes us.

ABOUT ME

I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!