The psychology of eating.

The complexities of the human mind and its functions have long been linked to various factors when it comes to our eating. Eating behaviours, which broadly encompasses our food related choices, desires and problems, is something we all experience daily. 

Our own specific eating behaviours are learned at a young age and are either solidified or altered over time. Most of us have learned this from our parents at a time we can’t even recall. They teach us how to crawl, walk, talk, and eat. Though small, our little brains soaked in the information being relayed to us and automated it to be used most efficiently. This is an incredibly important function of the brain, however, when it comes to the psychology of eating, it means we have to delve a little deeper into the ingrained beliefs and values which are hidden behind our current actions.

Example:

Katie at 3 years old is at the shopping centre with her Mum when she accidently falls over, scrapes her knee and starts screaming and crying in pain. In an effort to distract her from the shock and pain of the fall, her Mum pulls out a lollipop from her handbag and tells her it’s ‘All better now’. 

This simple gesture I think most of us can relate to (whether we’ve been the giver or receiver) though efficient in the short term, can set solid belief systems in our brains around food. Little Katie’s brain has experienced pain which has then been magically cured by the pleasure of eating a lollipop. Step forward in time 20 years and suddenly big Katie has an issue with emotional eating and can’t stop trying to mask her pain with sweets.

The psychology behind our eating behaviours can manifest in so many different ways. The dieting we saw our Mum’s do turns to yo-yo dieting as we get older. The drinking we saw our Dad do after a stressful day at work turns into an issue with ‘medicinal’ alcohol as we enter the workforce. The cultural beliefs around ‘feeding’ as a love language turns into weight gain or obesity as we become Mothers. Chances are, reading this you have already identified not only some potential eating behaviours of your own but also the ingrained belief systems upon which you stem those behaviours. 

So if the link between psychology and eating is so strong, can we use awareness of this link to our advantage? Absolutely. Let’s take a look at how with the 4 steps to success!

1: Identify one eating behaviour which is working against your goals to work on changing.

Example: Binge eating

2: Brainstorm possible causes of this behaviour by delving into your past. You may even want to (sensitively) ask some questions to those who taught you about food or controlled your intake at a young age. I cannot stress enough though, do this sensitively.

Example: 

When I was younger I remember my parents always making me finish what was on my plate regardless of how full I was. They said this was because we all should be grateful for what we had been given as some kids didn’t have any food at all. 

3: Note what beliefs and values are presently triggering this behaviour.

Example: 

I cannot seem to stop eating when something is in front of me. If I have a bag of chips I finish the whole lot, a tub of ice cream – gone in minutes, order a pizza – every last crumb! Sometimes I know I’m full but I keep on eating. I seem to feel guilty if there’s ever been a time in which I couldn’t finish my food. The feeling of guilt associated with not finishing my meal is a belief I’ve held onto.

4: Brainstorm at least 3 strategies to help reframe the belief or overcome the obstacle and choose one to move forward with.

Example: 

1 – I could remind myself that regardless of whether I finish the food or not, if I’m not hungry the food is still wasted. By finishing food after I’m full not only am I wasting the food but I’m also actively working against my goals.

2 – I could put less in front of me now that I have this awareness around my eating behaviour. Instead of buying a big bag of chips I could buy a multipack and simply eat one of those.

3 – I could buy less in my grocery shop as I’m aware that I’m currently overeating.With the money I save from that I could donate it to children less fortunate and that would help me feel  so much better about my eating behaviours and eliminate the guilt I associated with it.

Choice – Due to simplicity and ease I will choose Option 2. *Remember, when choosing an option there’s no right or wrong. You could choose the one you feel most efficient or the one you feel most easy to implement, both are right you just have to choose the option that works best for you.

Remember the 4 steps to success don’t work unless you do! If you can identify with this blog but you’re too busy to take the steps now, put this on your to-do list for the soonest possible time you can address it. Knowledge and power are extremely valuable but they go nowhere without action! If you need help in any of your 4 steps to success don’t hesitate to contact me through our contact page on this site or through any of our socials.

When women support each other, incredible things happen,

Jx

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