Monday, January 19, 2015

A Look at the Emotions and Food

I have mentioned briefly before that I had a real struggle with my food budget over the years. While I am doing much better, I still find myself facing challenges in this area. In the not too distant past I would spend nearly a thousand dollars in food a month all told, between eating out and groceries, but my health was suffering.

When I first got into budgeting and started to pare down this category, I came face to face with my poor eating habits. A lot of my purchases were driven by laziness, but then another set of them came from an emotional pull.

The laziness was easy to correct as I became motivated to save money, but the emotional spending on food continued on. Each time I felt low or even in contrast, when I felt I needed to celebrate something, I would indulge.

I began to notice that I was looking for excuses to eat out, but very seldom did I actually fully enjoy the meal. I even at times tried to rationalize it by buying enough food to be left over for another meal, but deep inside I knew that my habit was completely out of hand.

I think that we as humans put a lot of emotions into food. We elevate it to a high regard because it is one of the chief things that we use to assist with socialization, from dating, to family get-togethers, to celebrating major life events. We also tend to use it as a crutch when we feel down, turning to ice-cream or other treats as a way of picking up our mood.

The social aspect of eating can be a factor in persons who have a need for a restricted diet, constantly straying from that regime much to the detriment of their body in the long run. This occurs when the the other person not on the diet orders food that the other cannot eat; in that moment resolve is often weakened.

Seeing much of my own behaviour highlighted as I ruminated on this topic was admittedly a very uncomfortable feeling. I felt like I was in a constant tug of war with my taste-buds, my emotions and my good sense. Throwing my love of budgeting into the mix created a friction that saw me losing the battle more often than I care to admit.

I had settled into an odd pattern of binging. I would eat well for a month or two then have a few weeks of going completely off of the rails. The downside is that each time this happened my body's reaction to the allergies were more intense.

Despite knowing that food is just a fuel for the body and that all of the additional emotional and social aspects are the least important part of the process, I get very caught up in the latter and lost sight of the first.

One deterrent to tackling how to change my diet is that everyone has opinions of how you should eat. Vegetarian, Pescetarian, Paleo and Clean Eating; it is enough to drive one batty. I can't say that I have hit on an exact formula yet, but I know myself well enough to know that it has to be something that I have figured out for myself; I don't do well following other people's doctrines.

My biggest challenge will be successfully separating my emotions from my need to fuel my body and that is an challenge that I have taking up for the rest the month. The first part of this is to increase my food budget and use the most of it to purchase fruit, vegetables and protein.

I will come back and report on how it is going and what my observations were.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you! I have often thought that cooking from scratch is a good way to eat well, no matter what you're cooking! buying prepared or processed food not so desirable, even when it's handier.

    And as you have done, reading your own reactions to various types and amounts of food is very important.