Healthy lifestyle: how emotions affect our eating habits

Hello Sunshine! How have you been?

I’m well aware I’ve been a bit absent for a few days. But following my vow of being honest with you, I admit it was because I haven’t been feeling emotionally well. So I have been trying to take care of my mental health.

As hard as it’s turning out to be to push myself to work on my blog, today’s post has made it easier to come back. If you go back to my first post where I talk about some of my plans for each section of the blog, you’ll see I mention working with a friend to talk about healthy eating habits. 

It’s finally time for me to introduce you to my dear friend Lily who is a nutritionist. Lily and I have been friends since high school, and despite living in different towns and not seeing each other as frequently, we’ve remained close. She has kindly agreed to share some of her experiences and what she’s learned through her nutritionist journey. Today I’m happy to leave you with her to learn about our relationship with our bodies and food.

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Our relationship with food: how does it start?

Everyone talks about the importance of keeping a healthy diet, but have you ever asked yourself what a healthy diet means to you? Everything that we considered to be healthy when we were kids might not be for us now. When did we change our mindset? 

When I was a kid, my mom would say things like “eat this, it will help you be taller.” Then my dad would say, “drink that, it will make you stronger.” Now that I am a nutritionist, I hear many things like “don’t eat that! It will make your hips wider” and “are you really going to drink that? It will make your belly look bigger”.

So depending on our history, the way we grew up, and our current routines, we build what we believe to be a healthy diet. One full of restrictions, bland food, and plain salads. We blame and punish ourselves for eating a slice of cake or consuming too many calories. As a result, it is hard to follow this “healthy lifestyle” we’ve created.

Healthy lifestyle or toxic cycle

The lifestyle I’ve mentioned before is no more than a vicious cycle that creates a toxic relationship between ourselves and food. I’ve learned that to break this cycle, we need to dig deep into our emotions. Why do we eat what we eat? Why do we think the way we do about calories? 

As a nutritionist, it would be easy for me to talk about the physical and emotional benefits of changing your lifestyle, and developing healthy eating habits. But as a woman who grew up hearing that girls must be strong but feminine, thin but also curvy, I can tell you that changing our mindset to the lifestyle we want is easier said than done.

In my experience as a nutritionist and as someone who tried multiple diets with no results, I can say that the key to start taking care of our bodies is changing our relationship with food. We are so used to classifying foods as “good” or “bad,” and we never stop to listen to our bodies. We confuse hunger with emotions like fear and loneliness. 

Changing our mindset, unlearning past lessons

When we realize and accept that our body is a temple that allows us to perform every activity, things start changing. When we understand that food is the fuel that keeps our soul and body in motion, things start changing. 

The moment you learn to worship and take care of your temple, you gradually start to unlearn lessons taught since we were little. We learn not to hate our bodies for looking a certain way. Instead, we work hard to help it improve and feel better. We listen to what it is trying to tell us and create healthy habits. 

Emotional hunger

It is known that our brain and gut are connected. However, a toxic relationship between them starts developing during our childhood, without us even noticing. As a result, it gets harder and harder to listen and understand our body’s needs.

Remember when you were a kid and got good grades? Maybe your parents took you out for a giant milkshake to celebrate. What happens in every movie when the main character breaks up with her boyfriend? There’s always her best friend’s appearance during hard times with a big gallon of ice cream.

They teach us that emotions should be paired with food. Hence, as adults, we lose the capacity to differentiate boredom, loneliness, anger, despair, or whatever we are feeling from hunger. Our brain tells us that after eating that cake, our desire will disappear. When it doesn’t, we encounter ourselves with an additional issue: guilt over eating “bad foods” and still feeling hungry. We are so immersed in our feelings, and we don’t even realize there are no right or wrongs with food.

When you love your body and see it as a temple, you realize that emotions need to be addressed with activities that don’t involve food. Food in the right quantities will provide the energy and wisdom you need to solve any misplaced emotions. 

The best thing you can do for yourself is break free from the things you were taught about eating and food when you were a child. Start questioning yourself about your idea of “healthy,” “beautiful,” or any concept you think is influencing your eating habits. 

Wrapping it up

Questioning ourselves is always the best way to start a journey towards a healthy lifestyle. When we understand why we do what we do and how we feel about it, real change starts happening. 

Dear Sunshine, I hope you read something you liked. If you enjoyed this first post with Lily, you can find her on YouTube and Instagram, where she shares tips to help you improve your eating habits.

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2 thoughts on “Healthy lifestyle: how emotions affect our eating habits

  1. Clarissa says:

    I love this Grace! It’s kind of crazy how much our emotions are really connected to our eating habits! And I definitely agree that we can form unhealthy relationships with food throughout our young lives! I had one grandpa that always told me eat this or that it will make you strong and put hair on your chest etc. (Silly Grandpa!) And then I had another grandpa that would always shame me for my big appetite as a kid saying things like, “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips” which of course didn’t help me form a healthy relationship with food.

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