Lately I have been noticing the rising prevalence of food in our world. My wife and I are guilty of being “foodies” watching The Food Network and enjoying good foods. There are two entire networks focused on food (The Food Network and The Cooking Channel). I love good food and so do most people. There is however possibly something else going on here.
According to recent health studies in this country we are in the midst of an Obesity Epidemic. If you look around and even downward you will see that many are caught up in eating more than is needed. I know without question I eat more than I need and if it wasn’t for all my daily working out I would be significantly overweight. What is food providing us that we can’t get enough of and why has eating become so addictive or out of control?
Sweets are off the charts in variety and quantity now available. Sugar, corn syrup and other sweeteners are found in most foods. Maybe it is a sugar addiction that is driving us? Or maybe there is a deeper hunger?
I have to use myself as part of my investigation about what is going on with food. My answer as a mental health professional and study subject is that our endless hunger for food is more than an addiction. If suspect we crave food because we are attempting to sooth ourselves. Food can be very self-soothing when things are stressful, when the there is a great deal of unrest, insecurity and fear. These times have us all stirred up whether we are aware of it or not.
If we eat to deal with the problems of our world, to deal with our anxiety we will over eat. Eating is both to meet our body’s needs and to provide satisfaction from a meal we appreciate. If we appreciate a lot of foods we will probably have to deal with weight issues anyway. If however we add eating for self-soothing on top of eating because we enjoy it then weight is sure to be an issue unless we are one of those with a high metabolism (which is unfair to the rest of us.)
So what can we do? I will still eat for enjoyment and nourishment but I am going to see if I can practice some other self-soothing techniques. Here are a four ways I am going to explore to better sooth whatever is stirred in me:
- When stressed or bored, I am going to sit back for a few minutes and bring my focus to my breath. Slowing and deepening my breath will naturally be self-soothing.
- I am going to bring more self-awareness and mindfulness to my eating between meals. I tend to eat at work when I am bored or frustrated. I want to learn what else causes me to eat mindlessly. Instead of eating I will get up and walk mindfully down the hall and into the other part of the building. As I walk I can tune into what is going on inside.
- When eating meals I am going to slow down. I have a habit of eating too fast and thereby not allowing myself to fully enjoy my meals. Slowing down is a good idea anyway but doing it around eating will bring my focus to more enjoying and appreciating the moment.
- I also want to explore some of the new practices I am reading about so I have more tools in my box to assist my clients and my students. In the next week or so I am going to put together at least 3 or 4 new techniques that I can play around with to self-sooth.
My thought is that these practices will also have a positive affect on my waistline and I am sure it will on yours if you give these ideas a try.