Are you an emotional eater? I would have never classified myself as one, but this morning a light bulb went off for me and I discovered that I absolutely make food choices based on my emotional state. And judging by the many websites out there devoted to emotional eating, I’m guessing that if you’re not, you know someone who is.
Let me set the scene for you. At 7:15 this morning my day was running smoothly. Kids and myself out of bed – check; dressed (them at least) – check; breakfast and lunch making proceeding according to plan – check. 7:21 am: daughter on floor having a meltdown because of some arbitrary thing that didn’t go her way and is now proclaiming the world and her mother are out to get her; son complaining that he only likes green apples and not red ones to be puréed and placed upon his oatmeal and is now refusing to eat the oatmeal but managing to smear it all over his library book nonetheless; me lying back in bed in the fetal position with door closed before I completely lose it on them – check, check and check.
One hour later we’re in the car on the way to school and I’ve resolved that once I’ve rid myself of these little darlings to head immediately to Starbucks for an Americano and an egg sandwich. For a split second that thought made my really, really happy – I deserve a treat after what I’ve had to put up with, I thought. And perhaps that is how it would have gone, and then I would have been back to feeling angry, out of control, and also sluggish from the sandwich, a bit buzzed from my coffee and disappointed in myself for eating take-out rather than the healthy breakfast that I truly deserve!
Then two things happened that snapped me out of it and got me to thinking about the chain of events this morning and my food based reaction. 1) Running into a friend in the school yard at drop off. Just that quick exchange of kind words was enough to turn my mood around. And it also helped to remind me that I’m not the only one who doesn’t have mornings that run like clockwork each day. 2) Once I started to get that good feeling back, I reached out and phoned another friend. We didn’t even have to talk about anything in particular, but by the end of our conversation I was completely aware of what I was doing and made the decision to turn it around, go home, and nourish myself properly.
My intention today was to write about my experience in bagel making, but instead I’m sharing my smoothie recipe with you because it’s just the creamy, comforting and healthy thing that I needed this morning – Starbucks craving is completely gone. But more importantly, I think, I’m sharing with you my observations of what went down in my own brain. What happens when you’re constantly “rewarding” or “treating” yourself with comfort foods like doughnuts, tubs of ice cream or, in my case, it’s most often a glass of wine and a bowl popcorn late at night after the kids are asleep and the house is quiet. I’m not doing anything “rewarding” for my body or my soul when I let this become a habit. And I definitely don’t want to teach my children to avoid their feelings by eating.
If emotional eating is something that you battle with or are maybe just becoming aware of – I encourage you to take that first step to breaking the cycle, whatever it may be for you. For me, reaching out to a friend and writing are two effective ways to coming to terms with the feelings that started the craving in the first place. How do you cope? I’d really love to know!
In the meantime, make a smoothie and fill yourself up with whole foods and nutrients rather than empty calories. Cheers! This makes enough for one really hungry person, or two not-as-hungry people that are willing to share.
1 1/2 cups of unsweetened coconut water
6 strawberries (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons kefir or yogurt
2 tablespoons raw cacao nibs or powder
2 tablespoons hemp hearts (ground flax or chia would work well too)
2 tablespoons hazelnut or almond butter
2 medjool dates, pitted (or more if you like a sweeter smoothie)
2 big handfuls of baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
a handful of ice
Place all ingredients in the blender and blend on high until all the chunks and lumps are gone.