A Good Reason Why We Do What We Do

always a good reasonAre you afraid there’s something wrong with you because you constantly crave something sweet or salty or because you binge eat?

What if there was a perfectly good reason?

What if that craving was your body’s way of seeking to balance itself? What if gaining back the weight you worked so hard to lose was not a lack of willpower but a way of keeping you safe, clumsy as it may seem?

We do what we do because on a deeper level the body is seeking balance and/or safety – even if this means sabotaging health goals.

So what if we approached things differently? What if we let go of the struggle with our bodies, with the thought that there is something wrong with us, and tried something different? What if we stepped away from self-judgement and started:

♥ To intimately listening to what’s really going on.

♥ To be brutally honest with ourselves.

♥ To face the underlying cause instead of cursing the symptoms.

For example, if we listen closely to those pesky sweet cravings, we notice that the body might be trying to tell us:

You’re not eating enough protein, healthy fat and fiber to keep blood sugar levels stable.

You need more pleasure or ‘sweetness’ in your life.

Or those binges when we come home from work might be the body trying to tell us: 



I need you to stop and enjoy food during the day – otherwise I start to panic about not getting enough fuel and eat as much as I can when I can. 

Or: I am trying to protect you from the loneliness you feel when you’re alone and food is the best way I know how.  

Going on the rampage for anything salty might be the body’s way of saying:
I need salt, and since you don’t add any to your cooking, I am trying to get it the only way I can.

And if you listen to the message your body is trying to give you behind losing weight only to gain it back, it might be:

You don’t feel comfortable with the attention you get when you’re thin so I am trying to keep you safe by putting the weight back on.

So there is always a good reason or reasons why we do what we do that has nothing to do with being defective or weak or lacking willpower.

When we stop struggling against our bodies and start listening instead, we uncover the underlying causes behind cravings, weight gain or binges.

And by understanding how the body is trying to find balance or keep us safe instead of cursing it, making change no longer feels like an uphill battle.

If this resonates with you and you would like to explore your body’s message behind the cravings, binges or weight gain, I am currently offering free 30 minute sessions. Book yours by Skype or in person here.

When We Love Food Too Much

No love sincerer.jpg

Many people tell me that they can’t help overeating because they love food too much.

I completely relate to food as one of my great pleasures in life.

Yet is it possible to love food too much?

I know from my own experience that this is possible.

We can love food too much when what we are eating is not just the food but the idea we build the food up to be.

Emotional eating author, Geneen Roth writes “We don’t want to EAT hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes.” 

When we eat those hot fudge sundaes, we are seeking excitement from it because we don’t have the courage to live in a way that brings real excitement into our lives.

Loving the idea of food happens when meal or snack times are the only excitement in our days. When we bury our emotional pain in a box of cookies. When we think we lack control around chocolate when in reality, it’s the only pleasure we allow ourselves after a tough day.

We start loving food too much when we become dependent on it as a substitute for something we are denying ourselves such as true pleasure, connection, adventure, self-care, a fulfilling career.

When we start looking at our true hunger for life, we realize that we no longer love food too much. We still love food but not in a desperate “I am expecting you to give me what I can’t give myself” sort of way.

When we honor our hunger for life, our love for food takes its rightful place and becomes just one of the many ways we nourish ourselves.

Umami or How to Make More Satisfying Meals

Umami TasteYou know the feeling. You’ve just eaten a full meal but you feel there’s something missing. You might be physically full but you’re not satisfied. In an effort to stimulate your taste buds, you seek out something sweet or salty to get that hit you didn’t have in your bland meal. Next time, try adding more umami-rich foods to your meal. Umami elevates the taste intensity of a dish. It’s your regular meal, on steroids. It adds flavor to an otherwise banal dish. And this is super important because taking full pleasure in what you are eating actually increases nutrient absorption in the body while stopping you from overeating or having cravings later on.

So what exactly is umami?

As you might already know, our tongues have taste buds that detect the following tastes: Sweet, salty, bitter and sour. The Japanese have always known this, but we also have a fifth set of taste buds for the taste of savory or umami. Umami comes from Japanese and means “pleasant savory taste”. Umami foods all have a warm, earthy, deeply satisfying taste. Chemically, these foods all contain an amino acid called glutamate which provides the distinctive umami taste. The man-made imitation of this is a chemical called monosodium glutamate (MSG) which the food industry adds to Asian food, soups, chips etc. to enhance flavor and increase their appeal. Stock cubes like Maggi cubes also use this principle to add taste but again, at the cost of putting an artificial man-made chemical into your body with potentially toxic side-effects. So here’s my solution: Leverage the power of naturally umami-rich foods to add big taste to your dishes.

UMAMI→ MORE SATISFACTION→ LESS CRAVINGS

As humans, we are hard-wired to love the taste of umami. Human breast milk is naturally rich in umami and babies already show a taste preference for sweet and umami-rich foods in their first months of life. It might also be a way of pointing us towards easy to digest protein-rich sources of food since umami is naturally found in proteins that have been partially broken down such as aged cheese, cured meats or soy sauce.  Adding more umami to your meals brings that taste that leaves us satisfied and without cravings after a meal.

Foods naturally rich in umami include:

    • Parmesan cheese & other aged cheese
    • Grilled & cured meat
    • Anchovies
    • Ripe tomatoes, tomato paste and ketchup and sun-dried tomatoes
    • Asparagus
    • Mushrooms
    • Nutritional yeast
    • Olives
    • Garlic
    • Dried sea vegetables
    • Marmite
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Fermented foods like miso, tamari and sauerkraut
    • Red wine
    • Roasting and grilling food also increases umami

 

Ways of boosting umami in your cooking:

♦ Combine both red wine and balsamic vinegar in your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

♦ Use soy or tamari sauce to add flavor and saltiness to soup, add taste to a meat or poultry marinade, or to vegetables.

♦ Add blended dried tomatoes (you can buy them without the oil) to a stew or tomato sauce

♦ Add mushroom to soups, stews and sauces.

♦ Add fresh or dried seaweed to soups, stews and sauces.

♦ Add nutritional yeast to anything.

♦ Add green vegetables like asparagus to an omelet or frittata

♦ Sprinkle grated Parmesan on top of dishes.

♦ Add toasted nuts to a salad.

♦ Garlic is a very umami-friendly flavor and even a small amount — not enough to notice the garlic but enough to add complexity — can give whatever you’re cooking more flavor.

Caramelize onions to bring out their flavor and top dishes with them

♦ Roast or grill vegetables to bring out the taste such as in this recipe

♦ Add this easy to make umami sauce to anything from steamed vegetables to salads.  

I would love to hear from you, what umami foods do you use to add more flavor to your food?

Do you mix food and feelings?

Food & feelings

When you are feeling stressed, bored or depressed, do you find yourself reaching for food?

As emotional beings, our relationship to food IS emotional. We take pleasure in eating. Food is not just fuel to us. But if you find yourself regularly using food to numb emotions or stress, its time to take a deeper look at what’s really going on.

Here are some steps you can take to bring a level of awareness to help you cope with emotional eating.

1. Identify your true need

Ask yourself whether you are hungry. If you are not actually hungry for food, ask yourself what you are hungry for – this could be love or connection or stimulation. According to Linda Spangle, when we are feeling angry, aggressive or stressed, we tend to crave more crunchy foods such as chips, cookies or crackers. When we are feeling more sadness, loneliness, fatigue or comfort we crave more mushy and smooth foods like chocolate, ice-cream or pasta. Often, craving something sweet means we are looking for more sweetness and pleasure in our lives – perhaps as a resulting from too much work and not having enough me-time. You can use your craving as a clue to help decipher your true need.

2. Find non-food ways of meeting your true hunger

Once you have identified WHY you are craving food without being hungry, realize that eating is not going to do the trick. Your cravings or binges are not actually the problem – the problem is what you are avoiding by eating. Try instead to identity what’s going on before you are tempted to eat and make a list of alternative ways you can address this need, such as talking to a friend or going out more if you are bored or doing things that bring you pleasure if you are craving more sweetness in your life.

3. Feel it, don’t fix it

If you just feel overwhelming feelings and can’t stop to ask yourself what you’re really hungry for, try to just feel what you are feeling for 30 seconds without judgment and without trying to fix it. Even if it feels like your emotions are going to swallow you whole, when you stop and just tune into your body to feel what is happening and where the emotion is within you, you are taking a first step towards bringing awareness to emotional eating. All emotions actually have a physical root, so trying to identify in your body what you are feeling is a very powerful tool to helping you cope with emotions.

4. Bring more satisfaction to your meals…and your life

Eating meals that truly satisfy you actually decreases the risk that you crave or binge on certain foods. According to Marc David, if your body does not register satisfaction when eating because you are eating food you don’t actually like or are not taking time to enjoy it, your body’s signal will be for MORE food which leads to binges or cravings.

Are your meals truly satisfying, do you take time to enjoy them and get the most out of them? Are you truly honoring your hunger and eating when your body tells you it needs food or are you waiting so long that you lose all control when you see food? Do you restrict yourself when it comes to ‘bad’ foods? Restriction actually leads to rebellion and loss of control, so try eating your ‘bad’ foods in moderation to avoid reaching this stage.

5. Be gentle with yourself

Above all, be gentle with yourself. If you are using emotional eating as a coping mechanism, there is a perfectly good reason for this. Change takes time and you can choose to focus on every tiny victory along the way instead of lamenting what isn’t working.

Apply an attitude of nonjudgmental curiosity and start investigating what is REALLY going on in your life. And if you need help with this, don’t hesitate to book a free chat with me to discuss how I can support you on this journey.