Food for Thought. Or Not! How to Overcome Food Obsession.
Are you food obsessed? With the holidays rolling around, it's hard not to be! It seems like everything involves or is centred around meals.
Don't get me wrong, I love food. Seriously. There are so many meaningful memories, connection, love and laughter that happen during our meals. That being said, we spend about 1 hour actually eating a day, according to Statistics Canada. So why is it that I felt food was consuming such a big portion of my time and mental energy? I realized that it was the thoughts around food. I decided to write out my thoughts, and what I wrote out shocked me...
Does this look familiar to you?
Thoughts of food can take up a disproportionate amount of your time without you even realizing it! (I challenge you to write it out yourself to actually see what's going on up in that brilliant noggin of yours). Instead we can use this time to engage in meaningful hobbies or learn something new, strengthen relationships, self development and growth, and figure out and or work on what gets you excited!
Here are 5 tips that you can start using right away to help you free yourself from food obsession!
*It's important to pick 1-2 to practice at one time. Overwhelming ourselves with too many new habits at once can often be discouraging and make us abandon our great intentions altogether! I intentionally practiced 1 for a few weeks at a time until it became an automatic routine, then moved on to practice a new one. Experiment with what the best way works for you so you can build a sustainable lifelong shift to a healthier relationship with food!*
1. Learn to differentiate between what craving vs. hunger feels like. To do this, you can try intermittent fasting (ex. having your last meal at 7pm and first meal at 7am), or pay attention to what your stomach feels like, what your mind is thinking, what emotional state you're in, what your surroundings are like before, between, and after meals. I'm a big believer in the power of writing things down (or making notes in your phone).
The purpose is to teach yourself to be aware of your body cues and external triggers. For some, cravings often pass if you take your mind off of it, while hunger can become painful and lead to the infamous "Hangrey".
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison
If you're not hungry, great! You are free to carry on with your productivity!
(Caution if you have diabetes or other conditions where this would be inappropriate, consult with your healthcare provider to see if this is safe for you!)
This is a long first point, but a bonus here is that you can stretch the time between meals therefore increasing the amount of time not thinking about food by having nutrient dense meals. Opt for meals that don't use processed foods, and are rich in protein, fibre and water!
2. Meal preparation and planning. Do it! It will save you from running through that mental list above (or your own version of it if you don't like chocolate). If you can make your meals a habit, you will be able to avoid flipping back and forth with decision making, because you've already decided in advance!
Like any new habit understand that this will take time to get good at, but you can master it! We believe in you!
"We first make our habits, then our habits make us." - John Dryden
3. Chew your food. Try for 40 chews per bite. This helps you slow down and actually enjoy it. You spend time getting excited about it and or preparing it, so go ahead and show it your love and appreciation! Remember, this is the substance that nourishes your body, letting you live life to your fullest potential!
4. Turn off push notifications from apps that flood you with food ideas. Open them when you are ready to browse through them. Don't let someone else tell you when you should be consuming their content. Period. That goes for many other distractors too.
5. It's not all about the food. It's often a means for an experience, and it's the experience that can be so rewarding! So pay attention to what is happening in this moment, what are you experiencing with this activity?
I often think about the times my dad used to buy me a Beavertail (apple cinnamon hands down fav! What's yours?) after snowboarding lessons. This trained me to associate snowboarding with a treat. It's a great memory, but what the fondest memories are the times we spent together, the brutal lessons of falling non-stop but getting back up again every time, the dragging my sleepy-self up the mountain, my first carve, and the exhilaration I felt as I finally sped past dad! The reward is actually these fond experiences, not the Beavertail itself. What's your reward?
I realized how drained I was constantly having to make decisions about food. If you can relate to this, then know that you too can form a healthier more equal relationship with food. Food should not control your life, but you can still love food at the same time.
Freeing yourself from obsessive thoughts of food gives you room to build a more fulfilling life for yourself!
Consume yourself with purpose, not food!
Awesome, life changing resources!