A Healthy Relationship Between Food and Happiness

Food, at least for me, is happiness.

I look forward to nearly every meal. I plan them out in advance. When I go nearly anywhere, I always look up the restaurants in the area and start browsing the restaurant selection in preparation for my foodie journey. I absolutely love food. That’s one of the reasons I became a dietitian. (Fun fact: my sophomore year in high school, I wanted to become a Chef instead.)

When I went to Boston in 2016 for a work conference, I was so excited because I knew Boston was a big foodie and seafood town. I think I ate enough oysters to fill up a pool. Each moment I was there enjoying everything that Boston had to offer including its seafood is something I look back at with great joy.

In fact, when I went back to Boston a second time, the most excited thing I was looking forward to was eating at Legal Sea Foods again. It is my favorite restaurant of all time, still to this day.

Food brings me a lot of joy and happiness, and I don’t think that’s unhealthy or abnormal – I think for most people food does this and I believe it should {it’s a huge part of our culture and our being, to eat.}

That being said — if food is something you turn to for happiness and comfort in any situation when you need happiness and comfort…and if you don’t have another way to soothe your soul when you realize your body doesn’t actually need more food today…that might start to become a problem.

You can’t always be eating, as much as I wish it were so. You only need a finite amount of food, and happiness and joy is something you can always use more of. Thus we have our conundrum … we can fill our souls with unlimited amounts of love, happiness and joy, but we cannot fill our bodies with unlimited amounts of calories without certain doom.

Food is fuel for your body, just like gas in a car. Just like your car has a limited amount of room for gas in the tank, your body has a limited amount of space for food. But unlike a car, which if you tried to fill too full of gas it would simply spill over, we store our excess food in the form of adipose tissue — also known as fat.

This very simple reason is why if you don’t have other opportunities to feed your soul, it is time to find some. You must be able to comfort yourself and soothe your emotions without food, as hard as that is sometimes when you’re post a hard day and you want to tell the bottom of a pint of ice cream all about it.

There’s nothing wrong with comfort food. When I’m sick, I eat chicken noodle soup. Nothing is bad about looking forward to meals – like I said, I nearly plan my life around what food I’m going to eat. In fact, I believe these things are perfectly healthy and part of our psyche.

It only becomes a problem when snack foods or sweet foods become a way to fill an emotional hole.

They can’t do that.

The hole cannot be filled with food. It has to be filled in another way. Through Prayer. Friendship. Family. Community. Writing. Hobbies. Crafts. Games. Something else that gives you pleasure and fills your soul full of joy.

Recognize when it’s time for these things – the important things in life, that your body and soul is calling out for these things and not for food, but that’s what you reach for out of habit. Recognize when your body is hungry for nurturing and not for food, and you will be able to succeed with your health.

I started to recognize these things, and began to find that my cravings were easier to deal with. I realized when it was my soul calling out for comfort and not my body calling out for food. You must be able to listen to these calls from deep within and answer them appropriately, and soon you will be building your healthy lifestyle and saving yourself from overeating, slowly but surely.

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