Mood food

Are you an emo­tional eater? Dis­cover the mean­ings be­hind your crav­ings, and ap­ply these healthy ways to deal with the binge at­tacks. Crav­ings are al­most al­ways emo­tional.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Glamour Health -

Some of you skinny peo­ple… you won’t get this,” co­me­dian Louis CK says in his famed hi­lar­i­ous stand-up spe­cial Shame­less, in which he de­scribes what hap­pens to him when he sees a plate of bis­cuits at a party. Louis walks by it a few times, pre­tend­ing to be ca­sual. “Like, oh hey, so who brought those? That’s cool,” he says, cir­cling the ta­ble. “I to­tally could not eat them, but I don’t want to hurt any­one’s feel­ings…” He keeps com­ing back to the plate, pre­tend­ing to re­dis­cover it, adding, “If peo­ple start notic­ing, you have to say some­thing like, ‘These are crazy. I don’t know what it is about them!’”

The truth is, ev­ery kind of per­son – slim or curvy, young or old – can ex­pe­ri­ence food crav­ings. And a crav­ing is sep­a­rate from sim­ply just be­ing hun­gry: it’s a de­sire for a spe­cific taste, which of­ten has lit­tle to do with ac­tual hunger. Long thought to sig­nal a need for par­tic­u­lar nu­tri­ents, crav­ings are now un­der­stood in many cases as emo­tional re­sponses to bore­dom, stress, sad­ness and more.

“My room­mate and I will go to the garage at 11 at night, when we’re up late do­ing home­work, to get cheese pop­corn,” shares stu­dent Mi­randa, 18. Mi­nahil, 19, says that she of­ten needs cho­co­late. “In high school, I wanted it so badly that I would just leave class!”

Crav­ings are al­most al­ways emo­tional, ac­cord­ing to nu­tri­tion­ist Kim­berly Sny­der, whose clients in­clude Amanda Seyfried, Kate and Rooney Mara, Fergie and Chris Hemsworth. “Check in with your­self when you’re hav­ing a crav­ing, ask your­self, ‘How am I feel­ing? Why am I so drawn to this par­tic­u­lar food?’” By be­com­ing aware of what you chron­i­cally reach for, you are able to take charge of not only what you are eat­ing, but also how you are feel­ing.

Eat­ing dis­or­ders in­volve a sim­i­lar lack of con­trol over your emo­tional state, Kim­berly points out. But un­der­stand­ing the un­met needs that can drive par­tic­u­lar crav­ings gives any per­son more power over them. Kim­berly’s tech­nique, de­tailed in her re­cent book The Beauty De­tox Power (Har­lequin; R369), is to com­bine that con­cept with diet switch-outs that ex­change the less-healthy craved food for sim­i­lar, bet­ter-for-you op­tions. “In high school, I was ad­dicted to pret­zels – it started when I was 13 and lasted a decade,” Kim­berly ad­mits. The is­sue a crunchy crav­ing can be try­ing to re­solve is ten­sion, she ex­plains. “It can come on when you’re anx­ious or an­gry and not fac­ing it; chomp­ing down on some­thing can pro­vide a tem­po­rary cathar­tic re­lease.” Think about Are you up­set about some­thing? The sim­plest way to de­com­press in the mo­ment is to fo­cus on your breath; one do-it-any­where trick is to imag­ine the word ‘let’ as you breathe in and the word ‘go’ as you breathe out. Ex­er­cise is also a great mood-booster, es­pe­cially for quelling worry or anger. Eat Keep washed, chopped ready-toeat veg­gies – plus healthy dips like hum­mus – handy.

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