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Rationalizing Unhealthy Food Choices

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In our fast-paced lives, food quality and quantity often suffer.

In our fast-paced lives, food quality and quantity often suffer. We tend to eat based on momentary feelings rather than on sound health choices. Solving this eating crisis is not just a matter of better planning and willpower the solution lies in controlling our emotions.

Nobel Prize winner Candace Pert, PhD, reports that millions of emotion transmitters surround our small and large intestines and prompt us about what nutrition we need to survive. Under stress, these transmitters become full or blocked, and our bodies can't relay accurate eating messages.

Without these messages, we tend to eat based on external cues such as sadness, exhaustion, boredom, or celebration rather than on appropriate internal cues such as hunger or thirst. To compound this problem, overeating also blocks these messages.

The temptation to eat for the instant pleasure of satisfying emotion-based cravings rather than for our body's health can be overwhelming. Eating releases powerful and addictive natural painkillers called opiates. This euphoria is short lived, and, as we become addicted to the rush we get from eating, cravings create a cycle of bad eating habits that is very difficult to break.

Ideal eating can produce increased energy, a heightened sense of well-being, and ideal body weight. It is extremely difficult to receive these benefits when we're emotionally stressed.

To get the most energy and nutrition out of whatever diet you choose, you will have more success if at first you regain control of your eating by following these steps:

  1. Before you eat, make sure you are eating because your body (and not your emotional craving) is asking for nourishment. Ask yourself, "What prompted this hunger message?" Take notice of the time of day and your mood. Are you eating out of habit?
  2. Double-check to ensure that your body is actually asking for food by drinking some warm water. If after a couple of glasses of water you still feel hungry, the chances are it's true hunger. As you practise this, you will become more aware of body signals versus emotional triggers.
  3. If it is an emotional trigger, isolate the source of your feelings, and then rebalance yourself by asking where in your life you experience the opposite feeling. Life's a balance of support and challenge. If you're feeling challenged by something or someone, ask yourself where in your life you're experiencing support. Keep looking in all areas of your life until the emotional state is neutralized and the craving passes.

Mahatma Gandhi suggested making a chart to keep track of the food eaten, the time of day, and the emotions and perceptions experienced after eating. Mastering your emotions around food is a powerful step toward creating a quality wellness lifestyle full of energy, vitality, and inspiration.

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