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Food & Mood Connection

Food & Mood Connection

What’s Eating You?


Read labels to make the best choices for heart health – low sodium, high protein and omega-3 fatty acids are a winning combination.

Our emotions have a huge impact on our food choices. When we are stressed, angry, depressed, anxious, bored or lonely we can be triggered to eat. While this is normal for everyone, if it becomes an ongoing pattern, it can make it difficult to manage a healthy body weight and keep healthy. The good news is that by becoming aware of how your emotions influence your eating, and, trying a few new coping strategies, you can tackle emotional eating.

1. Tune In: Is It Really Hunger?

Hunger is a biological need to eat something. Signals of true hunger are things like the stomach rumbles, fatigue, or poor concentration. And true hunger typically only happens when it has been a long time since you last ate. Before you eat an unplanned food ask yourself is it really hunger? If it has only been a short time since you last ate, chances are it isn’t.

2. Eat On Time!

Set yourself up for success by making sure you eat a meal or snack every 3-5 hours so that you are sustained with energy and can more easily manage cravings.

3. Balance Your Meals

At your breakfast, lunch, and supper be sure to eat a source of carbohydrate (such as starches/grains, vegetables, fruits) AND protein (seafood, meat, poultry, dairy, soy). This is because carbohydrates supply the brain with energy, and the protein sustains energy and fullness. This combination is ideal to manage blood sugar levels which can help you manage cravings.

4. Distraction

Many cravings fade in a few minutes so before you give into one, make yourself wait. Sometimes you will find that distracting yourself by doing another task is a great place to start.

5. Set Up Successful Surroundings

Your environment at home and work have a strong influence on your food choices. Make a conscious effort to avoid having high-calorie junk foods stocked in your home or work where they are easily accessible to chow down on if you are feeling blue.

6. Embrace Powerful Mood Boosters

Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep or a walk outside. Physical activity produces endorphins which boost mood and energize you. If you are having trouble sleeping visit your doctor since getting adequate sleep is essential to effectively fight stress.

7. Comfort Yourself Without Food

There are many ways you can manage feelings like sadness, stress and boredom. Make a list of 10 things you can do when you are feeling this way. Reading a book, taking a bath, walking the dog, listening to music or calling a friend – just a few ideas to get you started.

8. Seek Professional Help

If you feel like you are struggling with emotional eating enough that it is significantly affecting your health and your well-being, visit your doctor. Ask for a referral to a clinical psychologist that specializes in this area who can help explore strategies to tackle emotional eating with you.