Eating is why we stay alive, but we dig a little deeper, we can see that food is so much more: it’s treating yourself to a candy bar after a long day at work, or sharing the last piece of cake with the one you love. Food is connected and interlaced with numerous other aspects of life which is why it’s been so valued and cherished in all cultures. But, most important of all, food is often used as a guide to emotions, resolutions, and goals. Almost every person has a unique and personal relationship to food and eating in general, so if you’ve been meaning to change the way you eat or just try something new, here are some tips that will help you manage your mood with food.
1. Learn the difference between boredom and hunger
Eating when hungry is healthy, however, eating when bored isn’t recommended. Mainly, since boredom snacking usually ends up finishing the whole bag of crisps, and it’s been known that such snacks can increase the brain’s dopamine levels. And we all want dopamine when we’re bored, which is why most people snack a lot in between the meals. So, if you catch yourself reaching for gummy bears or soda, it’s better to find a healthy substitute or drink a glass of water instead.
2. Invest some effort into meal prep and planning
A stable meal plan can do wonders for your mental health. Eating breakfast alone can provide you with plenty of energy to feel energized until early afternoon. When you eat regularly, you’ll be less inclined to reach for unhealthy drinks such as over-sugared coffees to sustain you. Prepping and planning your meals gives you the freedom to eat at your own terms, which in return will have a positive effect on your mood. Also, browsing recipes is a fun way to pass the time and fall in love with different types of food!
3. Comfort yourself with style and grace
Everyone knows about comfort food phenomena. Honestly, there is something satisfying after eating all that ice-cream after failing an exam. There is something truly comforting about treating yourself to feel better. However, it’s possible to do that, while exercising moderation. Buying a whole cake is lavish, but choosing petit four lemon tarts desserts will provide your eating experience with luxury, so you’ll want to save more for later. Bite-sized treats are always a great comfort choice as they’re more satiating and satisfying than large portions and unsliced food.
4. Listen to your body
There are foods that can be perfectly healthy, yet have an unpleasant effect on one’s body. Being intolerant to certain food can be a subtle and sneaky condition, so if you tend to feel bloated, lethargic and moody at times, it might actually be due to eating wrong food which affects you that way. Keeping a food diary can be a great help in the beginning, however, don’t forget to listen to your body and monitor changes especially after eating a big meal. If you don’t know where to start, try with eliminating lactose or gluten, but make sure to consult your doctor beforehand.
5. Look for mindful ways to connect with food
The mindful way of living can help you transform your relationship with food. Therefore, instead of quickly devouring a meal in a hurry, it’s better to chew slower and process each bite while enjoying the taste. That’s how mindful way of eating benefits one’s perception of food while improving digestion. Eating quickly and compulsively can be soothing and familiar, but isn’t beneficial in any way while eating is going to help you both physically and mentally as you’ll feel more active and energetic.
A human mental state and food have a natural and sophisticated connection that spans across ages. So it is no surprise that each person nowadays has a unique connection with food, and if you tend to comfort yourself with food, that’s fine, as long as you do so in moderation. Learn to listen to your body and what it needs. Building a stable and healthy connection with food requires learning and curiosity, so be ready to experiment until you find that perfect diet that is meant for you.