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DISABLE YOUR EMOTIONAL COOKIES

If we're hard-wired for anything as kids and adults it's FOOD AS REWARD.

1) As kids we were often rewarded for good behavior with treats or sweets. We're praised with words and food for cleaning our plates, or we get to order our favorite dine-out dish when we get a good report card. Clean your room? Good boy, have some candy. This works pretty well for training dogs but the human psyche handles it differently in the long run.

2) Zip forward a dozen years, getting good grades or catching a winning pass calls for a celebratory dinner pulling out all the stops ... loose it totally for commitment ceremonies and holidays. We like to feel good and unfettered once in a while. I do too.

No, I'm not anti-celebrating. I sure do go there after a physique contest. If you're doing everything smart 95% of the time, the occasional 5% 'breaking training' won't matter much. Five percent would mean 'sinning' just once in every twenty meals in a row, ONCE a week.

Consider that maybe you're overdoing the feel-good side of things. We put ourselves in nasty, stressful, tense situations many times every day and feel justified in 'slipping a bit' on the fueling plan (okay, 'diet'). "I've had a hard day, I deserve it." "I work hard, I deserve it." "I feel crappy, I deserve it." I'm sure you do, but if you're not happy with how you feel or look in Speedos then maybe you're 'deserving' yourself into the grave with this stinkin' thinkin'.

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Brain synapses go ballastic when we eat sweets - the tactile centers of the mouth love goo and chew, crunch, salt, bitterness and often combinations thereof even better. Now, you know better. And they can be re-trained, re-programmed.

3) We eat more when we're DOWN AND FEELING LOW. For instant gratification, we turn to food for comfort, to fill sorrow or salve loneliness. Okay, we're all human, but if you find yourself buying Oreos every time you pass a grocery store, look at what you're putting on the check out conveyor belt and it's mostly desserts and snacks then, my friend, you have a FOOD DISORDER.

INSTEAD of reaching for the comfort food, go for a walk or a hike, take it to the gym, do some aerobics, listen to music for a while INSTEAD of eating to break the old patterns. Write a letter or email a friend expressing your thoughts and feelings. Break out the watercolors or oil paints. EXPRESS YOUR EMOTIONS in a less harmful way, a much healthier way to unruffle those feathers rather than relying on foods for what you can do for yourself, things are really better for your body machinery, your fine mind and longevity.

4) REDUCE THE STRESSORS. Obvious. This may sound a little nuts, but when people whine and complain that their schedules don't allow them to take a walk or a nap during the day or they can't find an hour to train or jog, I tell them to QUIT YOUR DAY JOB!

I mean it. If you're working just to pay off your expensive toys and you're still miserable - anyTHING that fosters disfunctional non-activity or doesn't nurture you, improve you as an individual, make your better company to be around, then I say you're selling your soul to the devil.

Living simpler means having the time and space to enjoy Life while others work hard to afford a little time off and a few toys.

Physiologically, even low-level stress decreases our calorie-burning capacity via cortisol and insulin and lays a foundation for weight gain.

So, when we are constantly pressured, feeling frequent or constant anxiety, we're under pressure to meet impossible goals, we're filled with fear, doubt and worry about the future….
we set ourselves up for digestive shutdown. That includes decreased hormonal activity and very likely inflammatory and auto-immune illness.

Dr. Daniel Amen identified key factors in this downer mindset as "automatic negative thoughts. They tell us we don't have enough time, energy, money, or ability to achieve our goals.
*(ref.: Dr. Daniel Amen. http://ahha.org/aboutAHHA.asp)

5) But it doesn't have to be this way. We have the power to choose a different, a much better route.

But how do we change course and turn that downward eating spiral around?

Einstein said you can't solve a problem with the same mind that created it? That's pretty deep, but spot on. When we wallow around in high or low level stress, we believe we're in survival mode, lose objectivity; the mind cannot tell the difference between the imagined and the real. We honestly believe at that moment that a pint of Haagen Daz, a whole bag of Fritos or pint of whiskey will tame the demons taunting you. They might numb the situation temporarily, but don't have a permanent effect; the demons are still there after you return to square one.

6) Okay. Let's talk about solutions. And that means changing your mind set.

Begin with relaxation. You know the drill probably: mediation, prayer, deep circular breathing, even hypnosis can help.

When you are in that relaxed state, program your mind and heart to find exercise less of a drudgery, a chore and more of a means to happiness and success.

Remember that thoughts become things, so think the good thoughts.

By challenging your automatic negative thoughts that tell us we don't have enough time, energy, money, or ability to achieve our goals in a more relaxed, healthy way we begin to slay those negative thought demons and take charge of our lives-

7) WHY are you putting yourself through all this?

Working your tail off to handle the big flat payments? The latest man toy? Our things often feed dysfunctionality. Some of them rod us of our basest nature - movement, activity, being physical. Negative thoughts and a downer status, anything that doesn't clearly nurture your well-being, improve you as an individual, expand your mind, your consciousness is an emotional drain on your psyche and your physique.

Try living simpler. A few hours every day. One isse at a time. Baby steps rock. Unplug, de-wire yourself for a while - yeh, sit back and smell the roses, count some clouds, study four leaf clovers, made daisy chains. Taking the time and space to enjoy natural Life in its purest forms can reset foggy thinking, frustrations, feeling trapped in your own body. This stuff is food for the soul.

8) Just taste it, don't eat the whole thing.

It's a party, a family gathering, neighbors backyard, office b'day cake and punch. You are of course, dutifully polite and take the slice of cake (cookies, pizza, whatever), but just nibble and taste only. You know this is all just gonna show up on your waistline or hanging on your cheeks (both pair), BUT you don't want to be rude not even trying the goodie. Somebody's feeling might be hurt (which is nuts when you really think about…. it's YOUR body, you are in control, your careful eating regimen has no room for this… ) ugh.

But Sally worked so hard making ten tons of greasy lasagna. So yes you politely nibble, talk a lot, keep your hands busy with other things instead of cleaning the plate. While you're socializing look around for a place to ditch the offended morsel, a trash can, a sink, the toilet. Just get rid of it without anyone seeing. There! How awesome it feels to be in that kind of self-control, especially when you probably have a drink in the other hand all the while. That's empowerment. That's a huge step forward. Now go thank Sally for the awesome lasagna.

REFERENCES / RESOURCES
– Macht M., Simons G., Institute for Psychology (I), University of Wurzburg, Germany. macht@psychologie.uni-wuerzberg.de
–"Emotions & Eating– What's The Connection?" by EAS
- http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu
- Daniel G. Amen, MD, American Holistic Health Association, http://ahha.org/articles.asp?Id=100 Macht M., Simons G., Institute for Psychology (I), University of Wurzburg, Germany. macht@psychologie.uni-wuerzberg.de

 

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