Why do we eat?
Have you ever asked yourself “why do I eat”? When I’m assessing a client prior to recommending a healthy eating programme, the obvious questions that every client expects are “When do you eat?”, “What do you eat?” and even “Where do you eat?”
But when I ask “Why do you eat?” I’m often faced with a quizzical expression and then I get the answer my client thinks I want to hear – “It’s for fuel”, or “It’s to give me energy”, or even “It’s to provide nutrtion”.
So if these are the only reasons why we eat food, how come we are currently facing the epidemic of all epidemics that is diabetes, cardio vascular disease, obesity, not to mention new heights in the number of cases of Parkinsons and Alzheimers? Could it be something to do with the real reason why we eat?
Next time you have a meal or a snack, let me challenge you to stop and think about why you are eating it. Because this will help you to become aware of something called emotional eating.
And here are a few reasons you may or may not have thought about where eating becomes more than just for fuel or nutrition:
- Habit – when you pop into the petrol station, the marketing experts have made sure the tempting chocolate bars and other sweet treats are positioned right next to where you queue up for the next available cashier. How often are you tempted? Do you have a takeway on a certain every week? Do you always have biscuits in the afternoon with you cuppa? These are all habits and not needed as part of a healthy diet.
- Boredom – how often are you busy being busy? When gaps occur in our routine we can’t help but try to fill them. Maybe reaching for our phones, social media and for some people it means reaching for a snack because it feels strange not doing anything in our busy routine. I know I’ve been a victim of that in the past – so Mind The Gap!
- Reward – maybe you’ve had a good day or a successful week or been eating healthy all day and you want to reward yourself with something sweet to eat. It could stem from childhood when you received sweets as a reward for something and has spilled over into adulthood. We all need to be mindful of using food as a reward.
- Celebration – when it’s someone’s birthday at work there’s always cake being shared around and if it’s a large office, that could be 2 or 3 times a week!
- Feeling sad or depressed – we often choose food to to cheer ourselves up, usually sweet things as we are hard-wired to feel better when we eat sweet things.
- Feeling stressed – this can make us want to eat more or indeed less and either way is not ideal.
- Loneliness – this can result in food becoming our friend as we indulge in comfort eating
- Tiredness – when food definitely isn’t needed as fuel. When we feel tired we may crave sugar or caffeine as a way to get a quick burst of energy.
- Pleasing someone else – i.e. when we want to feel connected to someone so we might go out for a coffee with them and they want a piece of cake; and although we don’t really want or need a cake, we will still have one to make them feel better.
The conclusion is to try and be mindful about why you are about to eat and remember how easy it is to feed our tastebuds rather than to nourish our whole body. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t have a treat now and again, but if we stick to the 80:20 rule we won’t go far wrong to maintaing a healthy lifestyle
Till next time
Feelgood Factor – The Holistic Approach to a Healthier Lifestyle
Vicky is a Nutrition Adviser and Elite Health Coach with a mission to help the nation achieve optimal health. We are all living longer so it’s really important to ensure we live as long and healthy a life as we can. Healthy eating, a natural approach to skincare and a reduction in the amount of harmful chemicals in the home all play a part in ensuring we are as healthy as we can be rather than simply not ill. For more information visit vickyfarmer.com
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