Eat How You Feel

imagesI’ve read a fair amount of articles over the last bit that have expounded how people should eat based on how they feel.  This has to be one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read.  Especially when people are telling others to eat how they feel when they probably don’t actually work with anyone and are gearing their articles at beginners.

I will actually use some research in this article, which I haven’t done in the past little while because of various reasons.  The idea for this article came from one of my best buds, who was cracking a joke about how if he ate based on how he felt, he’d be obese.  I’m of the same ilk.  If I could choose to eat whatever I wanted based on how I feel, I’d eat cheesecake, candy, cinnamon buns, chocolate, and wash that down with pop everyday.  Sometimes, I do crave actual food, but I’m not sure that’s just my conscience telling me to eat like an adult human being, and not a child.

Oreos and Cocaine

Recently the Huffington Post published an asinine article about how Oreos are as addictive if not more so than cocaine.  The article used rats as it’s subjects, which is one of the major issues I have with it.  The biggest problem I have is that there are numerous neurotransmitters, which are released in the pleasure centre of the brain in response to a number of things.  Things including: drugs, sex, alchohol, any high-fat/high-sugar foods and many other things.

The point of mentioning that article is that the brain does indeed enjoy the “feeling” of taking in high-fat/high-sugar snacks.  I implore you to name one high-fat/high-sugar snack that even the most brazen IIFYM (if it fits your macros) follower, would condone (ok they could find a couple, but you get my point).

So if we are to allow our emotions to guide our eating, would we not want to make ourselves happy, and activate the pleasure centre in the brain?

Uhh, yea, we would dummy.

Reasons For Snacking

There are many reasons for “snacking.”  I’m not even sure what the definition of a snack is anymore.  I suppose it’s eating/drinking a calorie-containing food or beverage between the “regular” meal times of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Whatever.

According to one study, the reasons for snacking vary:

  • 79% (of snacks) were high in either fat or sugar.
  • Hunger and tempations (external motives) were reported as reasons for eating junk in 49% and 55% of all episodes
  • Eating because the subjects were bored as shit, fed up over something, or had some form of life stressor was given as a reason for 26% of episodes.

These statistics are somewhat disconcerting, considering most people are firm on their belief that snacking or “grazing” on food throughout the day is the way to be healthy and/or lose weight (anecdotal evidence). From consulting with many males and females, I have noticed trends towards emotional eating being more rampant in females.  Blame it on hormones, genes, gene-environment interactions, whatever, but females do seem to get more emotionally out of food compared to men.

According to this research (on men and women with binge eating disorder, like myself [kidding… sort of]), “Women were more likely to report eating in response to negative emotions, particularly anxiety, anger and frustration, and depression.”

So if we allow our emotions, or feelings dictate what we consume, are we supposed to assume that only robots who have no emotions are able to consume lower-energy dense, and high-nutrient dense foods?

Nah.

Maybe some individuals are able to handle stress better, or have different stress responses, or have inhibited activation of their pleasure centres.  Or… Maybe they have to actually educate themselves on what they should be eating on a regular basis to attain the goals they are looking to meet? Maybe they need to take steps to living a lifestyle that is conducive to their goals?

Ponder me that…

Social Support

Next up is social support.  I have talked extensively on this subject recently on this here article.  I think this tends to be the elephant in the room when it comes to many peoples dietary woes.  Sure they can be told ad nauseam by the best nutritionist in the world to eat this and that, but if they don’t have the support they need around them on a daily basis, shit just won’t change.

I stumbled upon an interesting article that goes over something alone the lines of this subject.  A group of young females were offered high-energy dense foods and low-energy dense foods at a buffet for lunch.  In the presence of a partner who ate more high-energy dense foods or more low-energy dense foods, the participants chose foods, which mirrored their partners. This makes sense.  If you have a significant other who eat vegetables and meat all the time, you will probably have an easier time giving up your KD and hot dogs than if they consumed spaghetti and butter on a regular basis.

In fact, just today (Tuesday), I basically had a cheat day with my friends because we all decided to do it together (even though I usually do it on Sunday, but hey, you only live once).   Seeing as we makes decisions that seemingly come out of left-field, maybe educating ourselves a bit on what contains what, (in terms of macronutrients and calories) might be helpful to simply be aware.  If we choose to ignore what we are eating on a regular basis, that becomes a habit that compounds over time.  This will most likely result in an increased waistline, which none of us want.

Stress and Gainz

As a side note, some individuals have difficulty with cramming down food when trying to gain weight.  In some individuals, stress may make someone consume less food than usual or less food than they need in order to gain weight.  The easy solution to this is to tell them to try and control their stress, which is highly individualized.

Since controlling stress is probably one of the hardest things for most people to do, other triggers might be in order to help them eat.  Having a good social support network, or having a friend or family member to check-in with on a regular basis could be helpful.  Being in the presence of like-minded people (while eating) is also another decent option.  Telling people what your goals are and being accountable to those people can be helpful as well.

I’d love to know if you eat on a regular basis, based on how you feel?  Have you reached your goals using this method?  Or do you sometimes force yourself to eat foods that aren’t necessarily as desirable as a cheesecake?  Let me know in the comments section below.