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The Pervasiveness of Food as a Stress Reliever


“Food is the most widely abused antianxiety drug in America, and exercise is the most potent yet underutilized antidepressant”, argues fitness author Bill Phillips. What led to food becoming the Prozac of our current society? Food seems more addictive than alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. The blame could fall on the processed food industries. 


The Role of Sugar and Processed Foods

Deepak Chopra, MD, claims the average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar a year, which plays havoc with our insulin levels and blood sugar. Sugary junk food and numerous diet foods that contain hidden sugars line our grocery store shelves. It seems that the food industry is driving your food addictions. Yet, there’s more to the issue when it comes to handling stress by turning to unhealthy foods when you are not hungry. 



Unhealthy Comfort Foods and Self-Soothing

If you regularly eat when you’re not really hungry, choosing unhealthy comfort foods, there’s a clear indication that something in your life is out of balance. Consider the habit of self-soothing, which actually began in early infancy; then it was a pacifier or thumb. Today, you find yourself at a loss when it comes to self-soothing; turning to comfort foods seems to work in that moment. The result is struggling with what to do with the excess pounds that come with eating these foods. Yes, most everyone overeats when it comes to the holidays; however, day-to-day anxiety, stress due to family issues, work place tensions, and excess weight gain is overwhelming. Eventually, self-soothing with any type of food raises a red flag, whether it appears as too-tight clothing or health concerns.  



Rewiring Your Brain and Emotional Regulation

The good news is you can rewire your brain, break unhealthy eating patterns, move beyond dieting, and cease jumping on the weight scale as a threatening form of exerting self-control or will power. Learning to regulate your emotions, discovering what you are really hungry for, or desiring to eat like a “normal person” are great starting points. Let’s begin with the understanding that food is not the issue. Eating comfort foods only hides the issue and perpetuates the pattern. Self-awareness is the transformative key. 


The Mental Aspect of Physical Health

Developing self-awareness requires an openness to change, to checking inside, and asking some challenging self-inquiry questions. Only then will you begin to shift gears and rewire your brain. Your second step is contemplating the idea that the physical is mental. Yes, your physical body is mental. This claim is based on Deepak Chopra’s claim that if you want to know your thoughts of the past, look at your body today. If you want to know what your body will look like in the future, then look at your thoughts today. Because physical is mental, we re-wire the brain in order to break emotional eating patterns, false beliefs, and develop self-awareness.


In other words, you must gain a new level of self-awareness in order to pinpoint the mental thoughts buried deep inside. Only then will you make progress in your desire for transformation and cease eating for comfort. You’ll no longer ignore your body, fight your weight, or body-shame yourself. This exciting journey opens a portal of self-discovery. You’ll find yourself nourished mind, body, and soul. 


Engaging in Self-Inquiry and Self-Love

When you find yourself in the midst of needing comfort, wanting to eat when you know you are not hungry ask: 


  • Where in my life do I not feel safe?

  • Where in my life do I feel vulnerable?

  • Where in my life do I not feel nurtured or appreciated?


If you stop to ask just one of these questions, you’ve invited self-insights and peace of mind. Otherwise, you’ll continue trying to fill an empty hole that’s emotionally very dark and deep. It’s an emotional hole that others can’t fill because you, in reality, are your very best friend.


By asking the question: Who or what am I hungry for, you have discovered a higher level of self-care and self-love. The willingness to ask the questions and then listen as you’d expect a best friend to listen, develops self-wisdom. You’ll be wise to your deeper needs and desires. You’ll discover the roots of your emotional eating triggers.


Soul Centered Eating refers to this process as transforming your body and igniting your soul because the development of self-inquiry and self-awareness leads you toward and a thriving self-transformation and more vibrant life.


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