Feeding Our Feelings

I’m a dietitian. I’m a nutrition expert and I use this knowledge to help thousands of people every year on a variety of health issues. I know what I’m talking about and I’ve helped people make changes and achieve great results. But I’m also human. I also walk the talk. But while I make the healthiest food choices most of the time, sometimes I don’t. And yesterday was one of those days.

I was a bit down yesterday. Not full blown depression, but a sense of melancholy enveloped me most of the day. This happens to all of us from time to time. There was just one major wrinkle for me. I’ve been known to stray from my nutritious diet when I get sad. I can often talk myself out of this counter-productive behavior, but yesterday I didn’t. And I had an aider and abettor, my husband.

So many of us eat for reasons other than hunger. Do you? And if you do, what’s your trigger? For me it hits me when I’m blue and sometimes when I’m bored. Others eat when they’re stressed, or angry, or scared, or lonely, because the food is there, and more. But we should only eat because we’re hungry. By doing this, we can better manage our weight and our health. When we eat for reasons other than hunger, we often  aren’t eating salad. We’re eating things like donuts, ice cream, candy or french fries.

Life has its way of putting obstacles in our paths. I liken them to hurdles that we must either find a way to walk around or jump over. And we can do it. With regard to eating for reasons other than hunger, we do have a bag of tricks to manage this.

Exercise, for example, is a fantastic and much healthier way to manage stress. If you’re bored, instead of going to the refrigerator just do something. Engage in your favorite hobby, call a friend or take a walk. If you’re lonely or sad, call a friend or family member. Write a letter. I like to watch a comedy. Laughter can change your disposition. Ask for a hug. A caring embrace can be much better than a Hershey bar. If you eat because there’s food on the counter that keeps beckoning you, try removing the food altogether. At the very least, make sure it’s something like fruit or non-starchy veggies that would be a healthier choice. In fact, don’t keep the less healthy choices in the house. For many of us, if it’s there, we’ll eat it. In my case yesterday, there wasn’t anything less nutritious in the house. My husband went out and bought it for me. He did it out of love, but in this case, I need to make sure that my support team, my husband, doesn’t let me sabotage myself.

Another important thing to learn here is that even the most disciplined of us often fall off the nutrition wagon. That’s okay. We’re human. Don’t beat yourself up about it if and when you do. Learn from it. Be kind to yourself. Get back on that horse and next time you’ll have more tools to get around that obstacle.


Visit Lisa Tillinger Johansen at www.fastfoodvindication.com, on Facebook at Lisa Tillinger Johansen and on Twitter @LisaTJohansen

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