With fast food on every corner and a new food TV show premiering every other day it’s easy to see that as a culture we are obsessed with food.

Regardless of our weight we are all pretty preoccupied with food. I myself am guilty of this. We use food to make ourselves feel better if we’re a bit sad, reward ourselves for working hard at the gym or to celebrate life’s milestones. But something insidious happens when we start using food as a constant reward… we want to feel good so we eat something rich and delicious and the vicious cycle begins.

It’s not just the amount of food we are eating… it’s the richness of food that is a huge problem. It used to be that rich sauces and mayonnaise were treat items, or that rich decadent cakes and heavy deserts were a once in a while indulgence… now everyone wants to feel rich and decadent all the time. This is taking a toll on our dress size, waste line, long-term health and emotional wellbeing.

I am guilty of this myself… if I’m having a particularly bad day and am in loads of pain I will comfort myself with a row or two or a block of chocolate. But what happens when you’re having 10 bad days in a row… or you have that much pain every day for the rest of your life? Do we still keep comforting ourselves with what we used to consider ‘occasional’ foods?

The difference between an addiction to food and other substances is that we cannot stop eating food. We need it to survive. So what is the answer? The answer is to not eat your feelings. Easier said than done – I know. But the next time you want to eat a snickers bar because your boss yelled at you, be aware of what you’re doing. Is eating that snickers really going to make you feel better? or are you temporarily filling the hole you feel inside with junk? only to feel empty again in a little while?

Food has a functional side and we should try to focus on this. If we eat clean healthy food 80% of the time then we can indulge for the remaining 20% of our meals. The great thing about not indulging all the time is that when you do it feels special… it actually means something. If you’re eating 4 meals a day, that’s 28 meals a week… if you take 20% of that you can have 4-5 meals indulgence meals a week.

This is not about weight loss… this is about health. Both physical health and mental health can benefit from exercising restraint when it comes to our diet. Being healthy does not mean living like a monk… just be sensible and keep your indulgence for the weekends. Have a good lunch x

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