Let's face it. We all have an emotional connection with food.
From the moment we are born and fed by our mothers, we learn to associate nourishment with pleasure and connection.
As we grow up, food continues to be the center of most social activities, and it can easily serve as an emotional replacement when social or familial life isn't living up to our expectations.
Beyond our inherent emotional ties to food, advertising is now playing a major role in the evolution of our emotional connection to what we eat.
Highly competitive companies are leveraging advancements in psychology to encourage eating as a way to satisfy emotional needs... And in scary-smart ways.
For example, dairy products—like ice cream, yogurt, cheesy and creamy things—are targeted to people who are wanting to be comforted and soothed. This makes sense, as our first introduction to dairy comes from our mothers.
Crunchy things—like candy bars, cookies, and nuts—are targeted to people who are seeking relief from anger or stress. This also makes sense, as chewing engages our jaw and helps to release tension.
These examples show not only how emotionally intertwined we ALL are with food, but also how encouraged we are to eat for reasons outside physical hunger.
Therefore, it's important to remember if you are struggling with emotionally-driven or binge eating that: a) you are not alone; and b) it's not really your fault.
It's not a matter of willpower. And trust me, no amount of hating yourself is going to help. I've tried.
We are simply hardwired to have an emotional association with the food from day one. And this emotional connection is exploited by companies to make us eat beyond our physical hunger.
So how do we stop? How do we no longer fall prey to marketing tricks and reclaim our personal power when it comes to eating?
We slow down. We close our eyes and notice how we feel—not how we think we should feel, not how everyone around us is feeling. We practice only eating when we're hungry, not when it's appropriate to eat. We forgive ourselves when we forget, when we overeat, or when we binge. And we continually bring compassionate awareness to our behavior so we can make conscious choices instead of engaging in compulsive habits.
It all begins when we slow down enough to notice what's really going on. And when we have the courage to be sweet to ourselves no matter what we see.