Better Health: Beating your mental connection to food

Let’s be honest, most of us love food. I can’t necessarily count myself on that list (anymore), but the mental connection people make to food can be either a positive or negative and have a lot more of an impact than they realize. If you’re younger then you can get away more with a bad diet or bad overall health because you can fix it later on in life, but who wants to be in their 30s and 40s trying to force themselves into shape? If you’re young, now is the time to start taking care of your body and your health because you don’t want to start trying to do it when it’s nearly too late. If you’re older then you still have the time and ability and capacity to do it, however you may find yourself having more trouble than someone younger due to them having more energy and it being less of a strain on their bodies. I wouldn’t call myself an expert by any means so don’t take any of this as health advice, more like health opinions.

A lot of people are more connected to food than they realize, for the simple fact that they couldn’t go for a week or two without it. Tell someone like this they should go for a few days without their favorite brand of chips or cookies and they’ll go “why should I listen to you?” in some variant. In some ways it may seem like a valid concern as most people don’t like being told what to do, but whether lack of authority or you just not being convincing enough people can always find a way to reject your advice to continue on the path they’ve already decided. The feelings of euphoria and happiness people can get from eating can be similar to those they feel in a relationship or being out among their favorite group of friends, it can be a coping mechanism for anxiety or depression or other life-changing factors, it can be used to comfort someone after a breakup or death, and a plethora of other things…

That being said, how do you see why some people get so attached to food? Can you see why the things we consume can be such an anchor in our brains and almost become friends to us?

Now don’t get me wrong, having a connection to food itself isn’t bad. If you have a healthy diet and eating keeps you happy while you can still be healthy then go for it, but take note of what I said here – “eating keeps you happy” emphasis on ‘keep’ and ‘happy’.

There is a huge difference between eating to maintain positivity and eating to prevent depression and negativity, and the latter is dangerous. I feel if you need any external substances (food, weed, pills) to help you then you aren’t really being helped, you’re using the placebo effect to help believe you’re doing better when you’re most likely not. Now note that I’m referring to mental health and mind-state at this point, and while I realize there are some things you can’t use the power of your own mind to defeat, in the long run mostly everything besides trauma or physical injury to your brain can be “got over”. However, I oftentimes see people disingenuously telling people that they can solve all their mental health issues with a better diet, and while this may be a big contributing factor that isn’t always the case. You can’t tell someone going through the trauma of their mother dying that eating mango and pineapples will make them feel better, but at the same time you can’t cope with your depression in the bottom of a tub of ice cream. There are many factors that go into it, and as someone who suffers from it I do get annoyed seeing people make light of it. Yes, sometimes people choose to wallow and sulk in their feelings and this will go nowhere, but at the same time it’s not an issue that’s as simple as thinking positively and eating apples.

If your connection to food lies in fast food or dining out, I have a quick way to help defeat that. The first thing you have to do with a situation like that is get over your mental conditioning anyway, and if you love your money more than you love food it isn’t that hard. Start on whatever day you like, get a notebook or use the notes in your phone and every time you spend money on food over the next week, write it down. at the end of the week tally up how much you’ve spent and circle that number. now tally up how much you spend on groceries for a week (if you buy them monthly you can either track your dining habits over a month or multiply the week x4) and write that under how much you spend on fast food. subtract the 2nd from the first, and if you come up with a negative number then you may be in the clear. If you come up with a positive number you have a big problem. That means you’re spending more on going out and eating (the environment/convenience of someone else cooking for you) than you are on actually preparing and eating your food yourself. Besides the fact of not knowing who’s doing what to your food before you get it, you can more than likely cook whatever you eat at home and it would cost less than it would if you went out and paid for the meal one time.

Most people love the food they love because of how it tastes, and they pay no connection to how it makes them feel afterwards. I was one of these people myself, I’d find myself eating cheesesteaks and greasy food often and never stopped to think why I would end up on the toilet for 20 minutes afterwards. A lot of you are addicted to food that doesn’t like you just because you like it, and that’s not good. You have to pay attention to the feedback your body gives you when you eat what you eat, or you can end up sick and unhealthy just because you weren’t paying attention. There are some things that are the reason you feel the way you do everyday, and sometimes a simple switch is what can kickstart you in the right direction. I had a problem with mucus buildup and after switching my diet to consist of mostly fruit (and most of it is watermelon) I no longer have the same issues I had.

Now don’t take this as me telling you what diet to go by or what foods to eat (well I will tell you cut most of the junk and processed food from your life, but if you’re reading this article I can tell you already want to do that so I don’t have to reiterate) but I will say that whatever it is you need to make it work for you. The most knowledgeable nutritionist in the world still can’t feel exactly how your body feels in certain situations, and no one else will ever be able to feel things like you do. That being said, you need to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t and don’t try to do things because someone made it look cool and like it’s easy for them.

‘Get over it’ may not be the most comforting and positive thing to hear in certain situations, but a lot of the time it’s true. Being coddled and people feeling sympathy for you can induce a false feeling of security and safety in your mind, but in all actuality it changes nothing. It helps nothing. It just makes you more susceptible to being able to be tamed by mediocre words of encouragement in the future. Now apply this to your diet and health. People will often try to sugarcoat things but that leads people to not take them as seriously as they should. If you’re down no one can truly pick you up off of the ground besides yourself, and don’t fool yourself into thinking otherwise is the case.

So here it is: if you’re trying to use food to make yourself feel better mentally, to help cope with issues, to help kill time when you’re bored, all of that is wasting time. You’re creating a myriad of problems – you’re increasing the likelihood of you using substances to cope with life issues (which may lead to addiction to other, more dangerous substances), you’re replacing productive life activities with filling yourself with calories, you’re blimping yourself (filling yourself with hot air aka empty calories) and it will just lead to an increased chance of you gaining weight, which leads to mental health/insecurity issues which will likely cause you to eat more and it becomes an endless cycle.

Have you ever noticed that people will try to cope with depression by…. eating? Which only causes them to gain weight, feel less healthy and have less money and energy. All of these things increase the feelings of depression and sadness, which people will respond to by…. you guessed it! Eating more. Do you see how deadly of a cycle this is? If you’ve ever watched shows like My 600 lb Life (my nana loves these shows so unfortunately I end up seeing them sometimes) this is usually the backstory of the person on there. They started off with some type of life issue or trauma that they tried to cope with by eating. Before they knew it they were too big to be able to wash themselves and needed surgery just to be able to (begin on the path to) walk again.

A lot of people don’t realize that the a lot of the cells in our body regenerate and replace themselves, now the time and severity depends on what particular organ or group of cells you’re discussing but it does still happen. There are trillions of cells that make up the human body, and the nutrients from the food you eat is used to replace these cells, so eating a bunch of empty calories is like trying to fill up a car with air (or mud, depending on your diet) and then drive it.

A good diet and an active exercise habit are the keys to good healthy, so if you’re scoring an F on 50% of of the work then how can you expect to have a good score overall?

Health is more than how you look physically, its your internal too & you cant always identify internal issues as easily as you could by looking in a mirror. Just because you look fit on the outside doesn’t mean you’re in good overall health. Bodybuilders and powerlifters have suddenly died before, so have people in many other professions thought to keep you in peak performance and shape. You can’t count on lifting weights and running all the time just to keep you on track, you need to have a combination and balance of all the health factors to truly be healthy, you need to be healthy mentally and physically, internally and externally. Good health is a journey, but the fruit of the tree of success is too ripe to let it go to waste.

So, to sum it up:

-Don’t eat to prevent or stop yourself from being sad or depressed, do it to make you feel happy and energetic. If you only eat when you’re in a mood or you feel some type of way (or you have irregular eating habits period that aren’t because of the way you exercise) you need to make some adjustments.
-You need to have a good diet that works for you. Just because someone else turned into Hulk Hogan on a steak and eggs diets doesn’t mean you can.
-A good active workout routine  – whether it’s weightlifting and cardio, yoga and deep breathing, muay thai and boxing, you need to do something to keep yourself active. You’ll be more fit, and it’s a good way to work out all of the irritation you may get from your normal day.
-You need to get yourself checked regularly. Just because you live a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean everything internally agrees with you. Sometimes you’re putting too much of a strain on something you shouldn’t, nonetheless seeing a doctor and nutritionist regularly would be in your best interest.
-You can’t beat a bad diet by lifting more weights, & you can’t just eat healthy & not give your muscles any flexing or strain – you’ll turn into a board.
-Speaking of being a board, that’s one thing you want to avoid. Stretch. Let your limbs become flexible. I’ve seen too many fights where huge Incredible Hulk sized dudes got beat up by someone smaller than them because they could barely move their arms to throw a punch.

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