Comfort foods. This term has been quite popular lately, and it is sad that many restaurants have hijacked the meaning of the term, so they can push their dishes. The original meaning of ‘comfort food’ is food that you eat to gain some emotional comfort or feeling of well being. Nowhere in this definition does it mention that the food item you use for emotional support be healthy for you. In fact, many people take comfort from foods that are outright waist busters-anything from creamy cheese to thick greasy hamburger slabs to bacon. Comfort foods are fattening because people eat them to get an emotional benefit. In moderation and matched with a decent amount of exercise, people can eat comfort foods and not get fat. The problem truly is the emotional state they are in when they eat. In other words, the issue is emotional eating. How does this work?
Eating and emotions
If you are emotionally charged, the last thing you need to do while in that emotional state is eat. Why? You lose focus and instead of having the presence of mind to stop after you are full, your mental focus is on your emotions. You are so focused on the things that have upset you or excited you that the normal brakes you use to control your portions are not in effect. Instead, you keep focused on your excited emotions and you keep eating. And eating. And eating. Another problem with emotional eating is that you may lose focus to the point that, instead of remembering which foods to avoid, you get lost in the moment and you order food you shouldn’t be ordering. For example, instead of normally ordering lean chicken filet sandwiches (although lean chicken is advised by many good diets like the GI Diet), you got so worked up about being fired from work that you order a fried chicken instead. The calorie(how many calories does a person burn in a day?) differences between food you normally order and food you eat in an emotional state can be quite huge.
How to Deal With Emotional Eating
There are two ways to deal with eating in an emotionally-charged state. First, you can try to avoid eating while emotional. This is a lofty goal but people fail to do this because, once they get hungry, they will start eating regardless of whether the food they are scarfing down is good for them or not. The second approach is the more practical step to take: instead of avoiding emotional eating, focus on lower calorie meals. Instead of using greasy and cheese-dripping burgers to help you deal with your emotions, dig into some low-fat dressing salad instead. Knock yourself out with fruits and vegetables. Oftentimes, you soon lose your hunger, even in an emotional state, once your stomach signals that it is full(however, be careful not to enter starvation mode with this method). You can do this with fiber-heavy foods like fruits and vegetables.
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