“One should eat to live and not live to eat.”
Socrates, then taken again in Molière’s “The Miser” under this quote.
Hello, young Padawan,
Since my article on food Schizophrenia, I have had a few requests to deepen the subject. At Padawan’s request, your faithful servant runs, with her legendary humor (or not, ed).
The need and the craving have already been addressed in this article, but not the emotional connection to food. So, let’s get the show on the road and answer this juicy question: Why do we eat?
The three reasons why we eat
1/ hunger, of course
You skied all morning, you have not eaten since the night before, and it is 2 pm? Chances are you are really starving.
2/ Greed, pleasure.
Our society has given food a different function from what it was initially made for: the festive purpose. We meet with family or friends around the food. In some countries, it is even an institution, there are some culinary specialties for each region, except that at the time, overweight was as rare as having a car (see my article on food schizophrenia to learn more, ed. ).
When you are in this situation of “today, I’m having fun”: If your favorite restaurant is closed that day, you do not feel any internal drama and you will return when it is open again. You feel no guilt, no urgency, you eat slowly enjoying the flavors with delight, you take the time to discuss with other guests. If you are not hungry anymore after this wonderful meal for a dessert, you will not have it because you have had enough “pleasure” and you will not feel frustrated … Frustration, did I said? Here is the little third …
3/ Escape one’s emotions
(You see, dear Padawan, there was a time in my life where I felt upset if there wasn’t the type of food I was craving for in the restaurant I was in. The food was more important than the moment I shared with my family, friends, colleagues … I did not even realize it, ed.)
If you are lost to know which of the three you are facing, sit in front of a plate of vegetables, if you eat with a good appetite, it’s hunger. If you eat without any urgency focusing on tastes, flavors, while perhaps telling yourself that with possibly a little sauce it would be even better, it’s greed …
– But if you pout in front of your plate, if you feel upset in front of your vegetables because you wanted something else, it’s the little third …
– If the goal “to eat” is helping to hold the rest of your day, in a mode: “it will be ok because tonight I will be able to eat this, or that …” right on the number three.
– If after eating you feel guilty, it was neither greed nor hunger, bingo, still number three.
– If you tell yourself little stories like you have “well deserved a cookie, after this difficult day,” I’ll let you guess which one it is …
Indeed, we know how to lie to ourselves, to a certain extent.
Open one’s eyes to food cravings
The goal is to get to eat for only two reasons: To feed ourselves and to have fun. Period.
For this, we must succeed in making a clean slate of what we learned from our childhood. We must understand that eating has only one basic function: to fill hunger to nourish our body with vitamins and minerals, to stay alive. On the daily, if you eat anything other than unprocessed natural foods, or if you ate without being really hungry: Eating was not the solution to your problem. Eating can only fill one need: hunger. For the rest, you fill the void, and it doesn’t last forever before the other perverse effects happen (overweight, loss of self-confidence, depression, diseases related to overweight …, ed).
What do we look for when we eat to escape our emotions? Appeasement. Translation: dopamine. Translation of the translation: Your brain is drugged by its own hormones produced by the intake of inappropriate foods that you ingest. Among others (see my article on taking care of your health for good, and on the anti-inflammatory diet, ed). Now that the report is made, what is the process?
Very often we look for explanations to this “cravings” we have. We all know deep down that it is to avoid experiencing an unpleasant emotion, escape a situation for example, but that’s not enough, we refuse the guilt that it implies. We then say that it started from our childhood which was difficult because we lacked love from our parents, or that it started at school because this or that classmate was making fun of us. Except that today we are no longer at school, nor mom dad’s house …
It will not please you, my little Padawan, but it is a part of my job here: it’s a beautiful scenario, a fascinating story that we invent to escape our responsibilities. “I eat in the evening after work because this or that happened to me in my life in the past”, certainly, except that today, currently, you’re no longer living it. Although it is important to know where it started from because it explains how you learned these mechanisms, how they are put in place, it is also important to understand that the goal is to get out of them. Your behavior today has no relation to what you have experienced in the past, it is an acquired behavior that you reproduce, certainly, but you are not your past. You are here, now.
I also hear: “Oh, I just like the good things in life.” Except that the human body, whether we like it or not, is not made to be epicurean. So it’s a story you tell yourself to stay inactive. We were taught early on to use food as an emotional buffer, so we do not even realize we are lying to ourselves. It is essential to get out of this scheme to reappropriate our stomach and, our life.
It is time to take our responsibilities. It’s also that, being an adult. Yeah I know, it’s not funny. Attention, at the risk of sounding like an old scratched vinyl, when I say responsibility: I do not mean “guilt” at all, which she is the twin sister of the “waste of time” — a word to the wise.
Get out of one’s emotional buffer
Work hard against those old habits that reassure us and bring us benchmarks is never easy. Especially since in our so-called modern societies, we are not taught to live our emotions or to face them. It’s like the world split into two teams: those who are going to cope and get there because they are going to understand a few mechanisms and the others who go toil all their lives. Refuse now to be in the second category one more second; life is far too precious for that.
Especially when you realize that facing them it is neither more painful nor impossible, that on the contrary, it passes faster than escaping them, it is more than a saving of time: it is a liberation, what do I say: a revelation! Because it is valid for everything and not only for food.
Indeed, what happens when something in your day gives you an unpleasant emotion, and you escape it using an emotional buffer such as: eat bullshit, drink alcohol, take it out on your subordinate, your spouse or children, watch tv, drive fast at the risk of putting yourself in danger? You do not feel better. Worse: you feel guilty. So you still have your unpleasant emotion, plus a bonus: the guilt of your emotional stamp.
While if you decide to live this unpleasant emotion fully, to relativize (because with exception, we often overreact to what happens to us, ed), to tell yourself that you’ll find a solution to fix this unforeseen financial situation, or that your big boss has criticized your work, certainly, but not yourself, that not having signed this contract is no losing face because you learned from this experience, and you will be able to go forward …. it move faster from your brain, you relativize and double bonus: you feel better because you did not have the heaviness of the emotional buffer, and the fact of relativizing the situation allowed you to glimpse solutions. Managing one’s emotions, rather than undergoing them by seeking ersatz of anesthesia that will wake us up during surgery, is not impossible, quite the contrary. The more we do it the more we get there, and the more it’s so easy (Hi to the Guns N’Roses’ fans! ed).
It is also interesting to think about the “why do I give in”? Because if the funniest part of your day is on the couch in front of Netflix or eating crackers when coming home from work, would not changing the rest of your day be the solution to be happier? — a word to the wise, the return.
Build self-confidence to succeed
1/ By understanding what you are trying to escape. At the moment when you feel like you will give in, that you’re in that half-uncomfortable, half-relieved state of mind that comes from the sight of the emotional stamp, that the remote is already in the palm of your hand or that your slippers are already in the kitchen in front of the chips cupboard, go to your bedroom or somewhere quiet, take a small notebook and write why you want to eat, watch series, … in short: what are you running away? What is happening ?
In the beginning, you will note and go eating or do what you want to escape your reality, but as you go, you will understand what is happening, and it will open up lines of thoughts. Because in the end, an unpleasant emotion is only a warning of a need that is not fulfilled. And you will see the solutions.
2/ Because having emotional buffers ruins your self-esteem, a little exercise to thumb your nose at them: Three tips to think, to estimate yourself three times more in 90 days.
Indeed, scientists have found that when we remember before going to bed three things accomplished in the day, over 90 days, our self-esteem is at its top! So why don’t you try? It’s not a matter of remembering three extraordinary Spiderman things, but three simple things you were lazy about and that you finally did, and which you can be proud of … and to visualize them well.
For example: comfortably sitting in my bed before sleep, I write on my notebook: “it’s Sunday, I was lazy, but I walked 6 mi, I finished my housework and changed my duvet cover, I hate that, and I prepared several balanced meals in advance for the start of the week.” I close my eyes a few seconds; I visualize the actions accomplished and remind me of the satisfaction they gave me; I allow this good feeling let into the brain, this joy invading me, and go to sleep. Go to bed every night on a positive note, for 90 days. You do not even realize the power it has. Try, you’ll see. It’s free!
3/ If you want to boost your self-esteem, nothing is better than giving your hormones and liver a little rest. For that, see my article on food schizophrenia where I talk about … effective solutions.
And here we are my dear Padawan, do not hesitate to go on the old articles of the heading “eat” then “food and health,” there are some articles where you will find more information, especially on the actions to take. You can also see the list of these articles at the end of the “recipe index”, always in the “feed” section. And we’ll talk about it in future articles too: so, see you soon!
The Obesity Code, Dr Jason Fung, ed. Scribe. As well as some studies taken in the author’s bibliography.
If I’m So Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight, Brooke Castillo, ed. The life coach school.