Our relationship with food is closely linked to our emotional health. Having emotions and eating are both physical events that are felt in the body, and we often try to change one by changing the other. Understanding this link allows us to cultivate an emotional relationship with food that supports our health.
Food gets used to comfort, nurture, and distract from emotional issues. We all experience a full spectrum of emotions, including anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger. Food will not fix any of these feelings. It might help you feel better for a short time, but it won’t solve the problem that is causing the distress. It is more likely to make you feel worse in the long run, because then you will have to deal with both the source of the distress and the discomfort of overeating.
Our feelings about the size and shape of our bodies can affect our eating choices. Food choices are often used to punish or try to control body size. These choices are not grounded a healthy relationship with food or with our bodies. Instead, respect your body and your genetics. Think of your body size as being like your shoe size, and honor it with realistic expectations.
We can also build awareness of the pleasure and enjoyment that comes through physical things like eating and being active. Eating a good meal in a beautiful setting can bring feelings of joy, contentment, and pleasure. Being active can also bring feelings of being energized and upbeat, especially when we focus on the sensations of how it feels to move our bodies.
Our emotional health is closely tied to our physical selves, and so our food and activity choices are often impacted by our emotional state. Cultivating a healthy relationship with food and activity can improve our overall emotional health. When we build our awareness of our body and mind, we are better able to create health.