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Reasons We Eat: Healthful and Harmful

When trying to lose weight, one may feel shame, avoidance, or obsession about eating. As an alternative, it might be helpful to consider a new way of looking at food and eating.

Healthful Reasons to Eat

Let's explore the REASONS WE EAT:

  1. PHYSICAL HUNGER is an obvious and essential reason to eat. When you are hungry, it is inappropriate to deny yourself food. There is no reason for guilt or shame. The WAY to lose excess weight is to cultivate a healthful style of eating. Eating when you are hungry is like breathing AIR to stay alive. It is necessary for life.

    • When you are physically hungry, every cell in your body sends out signals requesting nutrients. Your cells do not have cravings for specific foods. They want water, vitamins, minerals, amino acids (proteins), fatty acids, and glucose, which can be provided from a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, meats, and calcium-rich foods.

    • Physical hunger builds patiently and gradually over a 2-4 hour period following your last meal. Physical hunger signals a preference that you eat soon, but it does not command you to eat the instant you begin to feel it. Look into: Listen to Your Body. It Will Talk to You: Hunger Scale and How to Fuel-Up Your Body Throughout the Day  to learn about your Body's Fuel Gauge. Eating regular, small meals is made easier by taking along a variety of food choices WITH you. Go to taste: Bob's Lunch Bag.

    • It is based in your stomach with a gnawing or rumbling which becomes more painful over time. You may begin to feel lightheaded or a lack of energy if over hungry.

    • When you eat when you are physically hungry, you are aware of the food on your fork, in your mouth, and in the stomach. You choose how much you need to eat to fuel and nourish your body and STOP eating when that is accomplished. A helpful practice to help get in touch with your TRUE hunger signals is to follow Eating Awareness Training. Come to learn about yourself as you explore Factors That Influence How Much We Eat.

  2. NUTRITION refers to choosing foods containing the specific nutrients you know your body needs. It also means LIMITING FOODS  with too much fat, salt, or sugar. Appreciate: Essential Skills section #5 for ideas about Cultivating a Sustainable, Healthful Plan of Eating--one step at a time.

  3. CONVENIENCE is working around your busy schedule to meet your body's need to eat in a flexible way. For example, if you are not fully hungry before a meeting, you may bring along a food bag so that you can eat on break, or eat after the meeting. Or perhaps eat a small salad or veggies before you go. Investigate: Essential Skills #6 for ideas about Planning and Preparing Delicious Recipes. Also go to see: Nutritious and Yummy Snacks, and What Does Bob Typically Eat In Any Given Day? for ideas on scrumptious foods for home or on the go.

  4. PLEASURE means that is is important to ENJOY foods (and other lifestyle choices that you make) and eat foods we like. It is important to have MOUTH FUN! Celebrate the pleasures of food. Use all of your senses. You can learn to celebrate a healthful lifestyle! In fact, making FUN your focus will insure that your new patterns naturally become your new way you create your life. Frolic in: CELEBRATE Healthful Eating! Yum! Make It FUN. Make It Colorful!, CELEBRATING The Simple Joys Of Life!, The Power of Fun: Celebrate Enjoyable Ways To Be Active!, An Alphabetical Guide to Zestful Living, and Sprinkle Dollops of Delight and Self-Care Towards Yourself for ideas of how to begin.

Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole M.S. , R.D. and Elyse Resch M.S., R.D. is an excellent resource on honoring your hunger, enjoying the pleasures of food and feeling your fullness. To explore her 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating and her website.

Harmful Reasons to Eat

Most of the SELF-DESTRUCTIVE reasons to eat have to do with using food to alter your emotions. When you eat to numb feelings, the result may be frustration in out-of-control eating and in the knowledge that your body is receiving extra calories that will be stored as more fat.

© 1999, adapted with permission, The Don't Diet, Live-It Workbook by Andrea LoBue and Marsea Marcus, by GÜRZE BOOKS: Eating disorder resource catalogue. www.bulimia.com   Articles on recovery, basic facts about eating disorders, newsletters, self-help books, professional texts, educational videos, internet resources, national organizations, treatment facilities.

                                                   

ASK: Am I eating to fix painful emotions or situations?

From The Food Fix By Sandra Stoltz.

By choosing NOT TO EAT when you are emotionally hungry, you are creating healthy limits, which can allow you to release and heal your feelings. FOOD will never provide real support when your are anxious, bored, or lonely. Take some time to sort through: The Ovals--Developing and Maintaining a "Personal Plan of Eating"  Discover what are you REALLY hungry for as you learn How to Develop a Loving, Self-Nurturing, Inner Voice For You!

So HOW do you change the HABIT of eating to numb out uncomfortable and distressing emotions and situations?

  Learn to be your own fitness coach—use your brain and ask the right questions!

I can see what I do and I can see how to change it.

 

Choose to become aware:

  • Acknowledge, accept, and understand, your pain and your pattern

  • Get in touch with what you FEEL

ASK: Will this choice increase my aliveness or decrease it? Free me, or imprison me?

Try several experiments to learn about FEELINGS:

  • Touch your thumb and forefinger together. What do you feel? Pressure? Heat or cold? Now touch a table top with your finger. What do you notice then? Is it colder? Harder?

  • Now pinch yourself on your upper arm, with your forefinger and fingernail-- pinching harder and harder. Now what do you feel? Pain? Discomfort? Now let go. What do you notice? Do you notice that the pain subsides? Ah.

  • Remember the feelings that you have had as your BODY lets you know that you have to relieve "liquid or solid wastes" from your body. Have you ever noticed those SIGNALS, but ignored them because you were really busy? What feelings did you notice after awhile? Did it get SO PAINFUL that you HAD to stop what you were doing and attend to your body's needs? We've all had this happen to us.

Use this same AWARENESS AND PROCESS to provide clues to you about your emotional eating PATTERNS.

 

THE KEY SKILL IS TO DEVELOP A PAUSE BUTTON--TO STOP!

Just like a tape recorder has a PAUSE button.

Don't immediately go to FOOD to make things momentarily better.

  • So FIRST, Notice your habits. Become your own "gentle observer." Take time to go inside yourself. Explore your feelings that arise in you. Do You Experience a RAIN of Feelings?

  • What are you hungry for? Rest? Affection? Quite time? What do you really need? Take the time to Shine the light of self-care towards YOU!

  • PRACTICE THE SKILL OF RESPECTFUL SELF-TALK: Nourishing Affirmations and How to Develop a Loving, Self-Nurturing, Inner Voice For You!

  • Investigate: The Horse Of Habit (patterns) story, How to work with food cravings, and  Meditation—Why and How—Cleanse and Train The Mind.

  • It is helpful to notice how your mind works. In Eckhart Tolle's book, Stillness Speaks, he shares some helpful insights:

    • The mind exists in a state of "not enough" and so is always greedy for more. When you are identified with mind, you get bored and restless very easily. Boredom means the mind is hungry for more stimulus, more food for thought; and its hunger is not being satisfied.

    • When you feel bored, you can satisfy the mind's hunger by picking up a magazine, making a phone call, switching on the TV, surfing the web, going shopping, or--and this is not uncommon--transferring the mental sense of lack and its need for more to the body and satisfy it briefly by ingesting more food.

    • Or you can stay bored and restless and observe what it feels like to be bored and restless. As you bring awareness to the feeling, there is suddenly some space and stillness around it, as it were. A little at first, but as the sense of inner space grows, the feeling of boredom will begin to diminish in intensity and significance... pages 18 - 19.

    • Stillness Speaks, (2003), by Eckhart Tolle, Namaste Publishing and New World Library. From the Introduction: "The only function of a spiritual teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth of who you already are and what you already know in the depth of your being." Enjoy discovering your inner being! See also Practicing The Power of Now, (1999), by Eckhart Tolle.
      • Namaste Publishing promotes Eckhart's books and other materials. Their mission is: "To make available publications that acknowledge, celebrate, and encourage others to express their true essence and thereby come to remember Who They Really Are." Find them at:  www.namastepublishing.com/  
      • Namasté means, "I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light and of peace, when you are in that place in you and I'm in that place in me, we are one."
  • Check out: the Emotional Eating section to notice which emotions are TRIGGERS for you. Keep track in your diary. Notice the PAIN or DISCOMFORT that comes to visit you. Just notice. Try not to use food to mask your uncomfortable feelings.

  • Scrutinize: Which Puzzle Pieces Contribute to Your Overweight? to figure out your lifestyle DANGER ZONES--WHAT people, places and things influence your choices.

  • Explore: Bingeing: Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight to develop the SKILL of self-awareness and becoming a self-manager. A note: many people abandon record keeping when they have problems. I ENCOURAGE YOU TO WRITE DOWN WHATEVER HAPPENS. When you do this, you will begin to see your patterns and begin to FIND YOUR SOLUTIONS to transform and manage your DANGER ZONES. Practice regularly: the Daily Check-In section.

  • Turn your attention to:  Getting to Know Your Stress and How to Management It and On The Spot Stress Managers to learn new ways to cope.

  • For some FUN, if all else fails, you might try out If All Else Fails: A Refrigerator Air Bag! and Additional Support!

  • You may find that you can't sort through things on your own and would benefit from the advice, insights, or support of a trained listener. Consider: Do you experience overwhelming circumstances and can't lose weight? , Thoughts on Healing and Helping, and Therapeutic Help for the Journey for ideas.

              Copyright © 2001-2015 Bob Wilson BS, DTR  All Right Reserved. Articles are for personal use only. Please request permission for other uses. Thanks!