Did you know that we eat for reasons other than physical hunger – that is, reasons other than to provide our bodies the protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals they require?
Shocker, I know.
I probably didn’t need to tell you that.
Have you ever taken the time to think about the implications of this truth when it comes to your efforts to get lean, strong, and healthy?
Have you considered how different your body might look if you were only driven to eat when you truly needed to?
If you only chose the foods and meals that moved you towards your goals?
If every bite you took contributed to – rather than detracted from – your progress?
You’d probably not be seeking out health, fitness, and mindset advice on some dude’s blog.
You’d probably be out and about, enjoying your life, free from the embarrassment or shame you feel because you’ve let yourself go.
Because you can’t control yourself around certain foods, with certain people, or in certain situations.
Because you eat and drink things that you know aren’t in alignment with your goals.
Even when you don’t need to eat.
You don’t need to be embarrassed for this.
You don’t need to be ashamed.
We all do this.
I do this.
I can’t even tell you how many times I catch myself wanting to get food because I’m stressed, bored, or putting something off.
Probably the situation that hits me hardest is when I’m putting off doing something that I don’t want to do.
Rather than get started and actually get whatever it is behind me, I’ll grab something to eat.
I’ve noticed that coffee exacerbates this effect, compounding the legitimate stress of needing to get something done with the manufactured stress of the caffeine.
Not because I’m hungry.
Not because I need food.
Because I’m putting off doing something that I don’t want to do.
Rather than get started, I’ll just eat something.
In the past, I’d turn to treats and sweets – most often Halo Top ice cream or Quest Bars – to munch on when I was avoiding some unpleasant task or emotion.
When I was choosing foods that were obviously intended solely to provide pleasure, this pattern was easier to spot.
Lately, though, I’ve been going to Whole Foods and buying a huge serving of veggies – which actually work great because they take so long to eat.
This went on for WEEKS because choosing “healthy” (don’t look into that term too much) options made the pattern less obvious.
Pretty clever, huh?
Granted, this isn’t the WORST habit to develop in terms of its effects on my health and body composition (my bank account is another story).
It’s still, however, a pattern that isn’t serving me.
Even if the food isn’t necessarily an issue, the avoidance of the task or emotion certainly is an issue.
Rather than doing whatever it is that I need to do – or feeling whatever I need to feel – I’m eating.
I’m not the only one who does this, either.
I’d venture to guess that you do this, too.
You might have different reasons, though.
You might not be eating to put something off.
Maybe you eat because you’re bored.
Maybe you eat because you’re stressed.
Maybe you eat because there’s a conversation you don’t want to have.
Maybe you eat because it’s just what you do in certain situations.
Have you ever taken the time to pay attention to why you eat?
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why am I eating right now?”
“What purpose is this food serving?”
The key to this exercise is not to judge – all reasons are legitimate.
If you’re eating because you’re stressed, that’s totally cool.
If you’re eating because you’re bored, that’s totally cool.
If you’re eating because you’re lonely, that’s totally cool.
Stress, boredom, loneliness, routine – these are legitimate emotions.
But emotions are signals, and they are to be acted upon.
They aren’t meant to be numbed with food – although this does help in the short term.
No judgment here – taste receptors and neurotransmitters are very real.
Right now you’re just making observations, gathering data.
You might even find that there is no underlying emotion, and that you’re just eating out of routine, on cue in a specific situation – watching a show, at the movies, or on a drive.
That’s totally cool, too.
In any of these cases, though, it your eating habits are holding you back from reaching your health and fat loss goals, the first step in addressing them is recognizing them.
Recognition doesn’t guarantee success, progress, or even action, but it certainly helps you get the process of behavior change started.
So, if you’re struggling to make progress towards the body you want and deserve, you might start asking yourself, “Why am I eating?”
“What purpose is this food serving?”
“Am I hungry or am I experiencing some other sensation?”
Remember, there is to be absolutely NO judgment with what you find.
Your thoughts, emotions, and actions are valid.
Even if they’re not serving you, they’re valid.
But you need to recognize them if you’re going to address them.
You’ve got this.
Until next time, have a great week!