Do your emotions determine your next snack or meal? Mine often do. When this subject came up with a nutritionist I consulted, I answered no. I lead somewhat of a charmed life, being able to stay at home and take care of my kids. What could be stressful about that?
Then I started to mindfully eat, which is code for paying attention when you stuff yourself. This proved to be a real eye-opener. Every time I felt anxious, I noticed that I ate a cookie or popped a handful of bittersweet chocolate chips into my mouth.
I typically start my mornings calm and serene, like a yogi emerging from morning meditation. At around 3 p.m., the kids come home from school and need my attention with the usual children requests: a homework question, rides to practice, a snack or two. I also start thinking about making dinner. Hopefully, I’ve grocery shopped, but often I’m missing a critical ingredient so I will squeeze in a trip to the supermarket between the children’s demands. Yogi transforms into a juggling act.
I consider spending this time with my family a privilege and a gift so I missed the signs that anything associated with this experience could make me edgy and trigger a desire for sugar. I simply regarded my eating failures as a character flaw.
Once I acknowledged that I might be wrong, I returned to the experts for help.
The nutritionist advised me to substitute my bad habits with healthy snacks. My execution of this practical solution has been less than consistent. Apples and carrots do not provide the same level of comfort to me as does a warm, chewy chocolate chip cookie. So I tried some low-calorie treats such as fudgesicles and learned that fudgesicles don’t really fill you up unless you eat the entire box. So much for portion control.
Since I quit sugar for the month, I’m revisiting healthy snacks. When 3 p.m. rolls around, I reach for the carrots and dip them generously into hummus sweetened with red bell pepper. And if I feel agitated, I eat a lot of them. Some things don’t change.