Tag Archives: Judaism

Phase 2, Step 4: Emotions and Food (Exploration)

Experential phase

Worries go down better with soup.  Jewish saying

Chowder breathes reassurance. It steams consolation.   Clementine Paddleford

It is, in my view, the duty of an apple to be crisp and crunchable, but a pear should have such a texture as leads to silent consumption.  Edward Bunyian

Emotions and weight gain

bored eating          betty white angry eating  

Don’t we all want to eat a healthy diet?  With all the information we can  find about food and weightloss we pretty much know what to do.   In theory.  However, when it comes to food, we are not rational beings. Emotions and past habits rule.

I have often heard my clients say:  “ I eat  too much when I am anxious, when I am depressed,  or angry at somebody.”  More psychologically minded clients will even say:  “I eat my emotions. “

Numerous articles and book talk about emotional eating.  It is true that when dessert was used as a reward or consolation by her parents, a person will tend to adopt this habit.  It worked at the time: the child felt cared for, the physical or emotional  booboo was forgotten.

Michele May MD, describes the connections between emotions and weight gain and concludes: “Foods themselves cannot satisfy emotional needs. If we are depressed, eating chocolate chip cookies may stir the memories of a carefree childhood, but they do not remove the cause of that depression. Indeed, the foods we are eating may be creating the emotional problems we are trying to escape from.”

A cookie or a cup of ice-cream can make up for a broken toy, it will not comfort you for situations adults face: being laid off, losing your house, failing a class, having a car accident, or even a flat tire. If one cookie does not work, a box will not work either.

I have seen a lot of clients becoming experts in identifying their emotions. They can find the source of their eating habits in different events of their childhood and still being unable to lose weight.

They may succeed in restraining themselves when they are emotional and tempted to eat too much or some fattening food.  For a while.  Sooner or later, their restrictive diet, their guilt and shame when they eat the forbidden food will throw them in a hellish (and fattening) cycle: Deprivation, mindless eating, guilt, and deprivation. 


Matching the right food to the emotion, as thin people do

Realize that all of us eat different food according to our moods, and specific emotional states. Thin people also eat while experiencing emotions but they have a better way to adjust their diet to them.

If you are very frustrated and want to chew on someone (in your imagination), a mouthful of ice-cream will not give you the satisfaction of working your jaws and teeth, while thinking about this person. 

So become aware of your emotion first and choose to eat what is more likely to calm or satisfy you. Here are the most common examples of adequate food, from my personal and professional experience.

Emotions Inadequate food for emotion Why it is inadequate More Adequate
joy Bland food No great taste  in mouth Bubbly drinks. Brightly Colored food. Gourmet food (expensive food in small quantities)
Sadness/ worries Meat, cheese, nuts No comfort in belly warm and high volume food for comfort: soup, chowder, stew, ratatouille. Hot drinks.
Boredom High calorie food with high content of sugar and fat, (donuts, cookies, candies) or drinks/smoothies  with high content of sugar Eaten too fast. Artichokes, shrimps,  celery, lettuce…Tea, herb tea, Yerba Mate
Disgust/contempt Salty food No sweetness in mouth high quality chocolate and pastries  melting in the mouth
Fear Cold food. Sweets. No comfort in belly Hot drinks (hot cider, hot wine with cinnamon, hot milk)
Anger Soup. Ice-cream. Pastries. Buns and white bread. No action from teeth., jaws Celery, meat, cucumbers, apples, any crunchy food.

Here is the big “secret”  

angry swarsernager   1203385_large 

The problem is not that you are “eating your emotions,” everybody does. Since diet don’t work and no one can shut off all his emotions, the only way is to choose the food that fits the emotional need.

This week explore what kind of food feels intuitively right, for the emotions I mentioned and take notes about what works for you.