4 Steps to Balance “Food Mood” Connection
What is the common theme running through these next scenarios?
- A chocolate bar when you feel lonely or unappreciated.
- A bag of two-bite-brownies when you really tried and failed.
- A few glasses of wine to chill out after your stressful day at work.
- A bag of M’nMs when the guy in your life ‘just doesn’t get it’.
They are all examples of how we turn to sweet foods to handle negative emotions.
But WHY sweet foods? Why don’t we choose a granny smith apple or a bowl of leafy greens when we feel down in the dumps?
Well just like illicit drugs give its users a ‘high’ by working upon certain areas and with certain chemical messengers in the brain (neurotransmitters) so do some foods. When we eat these sugary, artificially sweetened and laboratory concocted foods we achieve a momentary ‘high’, a feeling of lightness and euphoria, and for a small moment our problems seem to disappear…
Notice how I said ‘for a moment’?!?!
The LONG TERM Price we pay for our “Euphoria Foods”
We actually suffer many physical effects long-term for this food induced euphoria:
- Systemic candida infections (yeast overgrowth)
- Weight gain
- Acne and other skin rashes/disorders
- Acidic blood pH (leads to chronic fatigue, joint pain & allergies)
- Energy crashes, leading to MORE sugar and caffeine cravings
AND EVEN WORSE… Mother Nature’s foods begin to taste bland to a pallet accustomed to laboratory concoctions… so trying to turn your diet toward more natural, clean, healthy foods is not only emotionally difficult, but also anti-climactic to your taste buds!
In addition to all the long term physical effects of this ‘glow in the dark, darth vader food’ … there are also a plethora of documented psychological and emotional effects like:
- Panic for no reason
- A sense of dread
- A concern about judgment from others
- Knots in your stomach
- Stressed and burned out
- Feelings of shame and guilt
- Overwhelm for no reason
- Stiff or tense muscles
- Feeling disorganized
- In inability to relax
- A constant worried feeling
- Poor sleep quality and/or insomnia
Sounds eerily similar to a list of the emotional symptoms associated with your eating disorder doesn’t it??
Chicken or the Egg?!?
But what came first? Was it the feelings of depression, anxiety, and lack of esteem that caused you to start all of your disordered eating patterns?? OR was it the tantalizingly rich flavors, textures and colors of these laboratory foods that drew you in over and over again, and now are wreaking havoc on your emotions which perpetuates your need to ‘self-medicate’ with food?
I think that an argument can be made for either scenario… but what do we do about it?
Emotional, lifestyle and dietary tips to get you started on your path back to feeling joyful, energetic, balanced and relaxed:
Release Control: Consider how much of your day is spent agonizing over things that are OUTSIDE of your control. Stressing over what other people say, think and do is a BIG part of this negative emotional spiral and something that you CAN learn to let go of. Try writing a list of all the things you are worrying, stressing, agonizing, saddened, and anxious about and see if you can spot the things that are NOT within your ability to change. Being able to let go of trying to control or manipulate these things and just letting them BE can be very liberating and relaxing.
Get more sleep: Hormonal messaging controls our immune system, our physical health, our appetite and our emotions. When you are sleep deprived your body’s ability to send the right hormones to the right places at the right times is impaired. This leads to weight gain, irritability and sugar cravings! Try going to bed just one hour earlier than you normally would for one week and discover the emotional calm and balance you will enjoy as a result.
Add fermented foods to your diet: Fermented foods help to curb sweet cravings, fight yeast overgrowth, improve your immune system, eliminate toxins and aid in digestion. They also combat parasites, and balance the acidity/alkalinity of both the small and large intestine. When your digestion, elimination and immunity are functioning optimally, you are supporting the amino acid balance in your brain that you need (serotonin, catecholemines , endorphins and GABA) to feel happy, relaxed and balanced! **IF YOU HAVE EATEN LOTS OF SUGAR FILLED JUNK FOODS then you have compromised ALL of these areas in your body and your mood balance is suffering. Let the magic of fermented foods heal you! Some great fermented foods to start with are apple cider vinegar, young coconut kefir, a fermented seeds & pulses supplement, and sauerkraut.
Make sweet desserts at home using nutritious sugar alternatives: If you’ve grown accustomed to sweet tastes AND you’ve also relied on them for emotional reasons don’t try to DEPRIVE yourself all together. Instead make these treats at home (that way you will probably eat them less often since there is some effort involved to make them) and use nutritious and healthy alternatives to sugar to satisfy that sweet craving. Some GREAT sugar alternatives include coconut palm sugar, raw agave nectar, stevia and blackstrap molasses.
Remember that it does not really matter how/where it started…
Maybe some frequently poor food choices you made caused a mood imbalance that sent you on a downward emotional spiral, leading to you continuing to reach for MORE ‘food euphoria’ to compensate…
OR maybe you were hit with some difficult emotional challenges that you didn’t know how to handle so you turned to food and now you are out of touch with non-food ways to handle these emotions so you self-medicate with your “food drugs” of choice.
It really doesn’t matter whether it is one or the other (actually it is most likely both!).
Looking back at what was is just an exercise in frustration and leaves you feeling powerless.
Instead lets focus on moving forward, starting today.
Focus on the things that YOU CAN control, decide that your life apart from disordered eating is worth investing in! Today is the day that you can start to make choices that are in your best interest, and take one step closer to eating disorder FREEDOM.
Begin with these four steps above and PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO LET ME KNOW YOUR RESULTS!
With love and hope for YOUR free life,