Whether a cookie, ice cream, or brownie grace the table with each bee sting, academic or athletic achievement, food rewards are a challenging habit to break. Skinned knees, A’s on report cards, holidays, hurt feelings, achievements, and pain rewarded by food is a common response, fostering the “I can fix, heal, remove, celebrate that feeling” with food. Reeling us into the pantry for a sugar-laden medal and eating sweet honors, goodies celebrate the victories, or ease the pain of falling down, burning a finger on a stove, or triggered hurt feelings. Junk food consumption for regular relief from feeling uncomfortable or emotionally hurt pack on the pastries and pounds. Reframing food’s purpose and releasing the connection between food and emotion is vital for change, successful weight loss and maintenance.
Food as fuel negates food reward needs, and fosters respect for healthy choices and the body. If food’s sole purpose is energy, emotional responses must reroute elsewhere. Gathering alternatives for discomfort, emotional releases, and successes is imperative to reframe food’s function. Not an easy transition, but it changes the way we look at things; therefore, the response alters course. Exercising and building the muscle to modify eating behavior, takes practice, perseverance, and motivation. As a repeated reminder, food’s function as optimal energy, fueling muscles, and sending nutrition to the brain, is essential. Physically feeling good is the prime goal, while cravings dissipate, energy resumes, and mental clarity returns. Imbalanced sugar levels cloud judgment, energy levels, and fool the appetite by misguided hunger.
Proper nutrition provides a balanced chemical response that enhances quality of life. By rewarding emotion with unhealthy foods, we threaten the body’s optimal functioning. Equilibrium, the natural response, causes the body to eliminate the incoming threat of toxicity or unrecognizable ingredients within processed foods, by becoming inflamed, digestively distressed, or eventually diseased. Treating ourselves respectfully with healthy, edible options, and utilizing “food as fuel” circumnavigates this problem. Anything that bandaids rather than cures is counterintuitive to healing. Treating feelings with food addresses symptoms of discomfort and emotional celebration; it misses the damage it does. A cookie for a skinned knee eventually causes additional pain, sometimes irrevocable. Healthy food as fuel can temper this future predicament.