One reason this is the case is because of our emotional connection to food. Ever since we came into this world, food has been used to help comfort us emotionally. Our mother would hold us close to her while she fed us. Candy or other goodies would be treats we received when being good. We celebrated victories in sports by going out for pizza, and when our hearts were broken, we looked for comfort at the bottom of a tub of ice cream.
Remember the movie Ratatouille? In it, the chefs are trying to please a harsh food critic with a simple peasant dish known as Ratatouille. At first, he is appalled that he would be served such a simple meal, yet the moment it touches his lips, he is brought back to memories of his loving mothers comfort...
Advantages of these Connections
Although this emotional "addiction" to food can cause many people to eat terribly unhealthy, this isn't always a bad thing. Because these connections are in place, it means you can train yourself to be emotionally connected to healthy foods too! (just imagine broccoli becoming your comfort food!) Two years ago, I began eating oats with raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, and soymilk, for breakfast nearly every morning for almost a year! After that, I grew tired of it, so I began eating other things for breakfast instead. Just a couple weeks ago, I decided to try my old breakfast again. The minute I took my first bite, I had a "Ratatouille" experience! I couldn't believe how incredible the food tasted!
People often ask me if it is hard to eat the way I do. My answer is always the same: Not at all! I am so emotionally "addicted" to the healthy food I eat, thinking of eating anything else seems gross! Here are two tips to develop an emotional connection to healthy food:
Just Eat It!
Two years ago, I hated onions. I couldn't stand the taste, or even the smell. Now I love them, and put them in many recipes. The secret? Just eat it! Your taste buds recycle every two weeks, which means that if you eat something you don't like for a month, you will begin to like it a little more! Repeat the process for another month and you will see that you are starting to develop a taste for the stuff you once thought was nasty.
This truly works, but isn't an all at once process. Believe me, I didn't just take a big bite out of an onion to get myself to like it! I took it slow, I put a small onion on my veggie burger, or a few chopped onions in my salad, etc... Find small ways to incorporate those healthy foods you don't like into your meals, and don't get discouraged when you don't like them at first. In three months, there will be a significant difference in how you feel about that certain type of food.
Use Healthy Rewards
When we were younger, our moms would tell us we could have dessert after we ate our vegetables. Although that may have worked back then, if we try to do that now, we will just create a greater attachment to the unhealthy food, and resent the healthy stuff we have to eat before having what we want! Instead, find healthy recipes and desserts that you really like, and use those as your rewards or comfort food.
Whenever I need a pick me up, and want to indulge with a great dessert, I always make my Healthy Chocolate Mousse recipe. Or, when Malissa and I watch a movie, we eat my healthy movie theater popcorn, and I always look forward to having it!
As you change your diet, change your comfort foods as well. Instead of regular ice cream for your comfort food, make yourself Banana Ice cream! Create emotional connections to all the right foods and eating healthy won't look like a chore any longer!
When new years rolls around, there are thousands of people who resolve to lose weight and eat healthy. A month later they are back to eating all the foods they had previously sworn off! These tips are here to not only help you start eating healthy, but help you learn to ENJOY eating healthy. Take it slow, and develop emotional connections to all the right foods.
- For more tips and help controlling serious emotional eating, click here.