How to stop thinking about food

When I first start working with busy career women who struggle with emotional eating, they tell me, “I Just spend so much energy thinking about food”. This can be a painful experience for them as they feel like they can achieve so much more with their time if they just didn’t think about food all the time.

Origins of Food Thinkingwoman brain concept

There are many reasons why we are triggered to think about food, hormones, advertising certain habits we have formed over time.  However, for many women, thinking of food originates from seeking comfort from overwhelming emotions. They tend to numb out or use food as a crutch and in turn this creates an emotional dependence on food.

When we use food as a coping mechanism, our brains form neuropathways to form food thoughts when we are experiencing emotions. Surprising for most is that the food thoughts can be formed from positive or negative emotions. This is because we have been conditioned with food since we were little babies. As Infants, we felt an emotion but don’t quite know what to do with it, emotions can be scary so the only thing we knew to do is to cry. Our loving parents thought we must have been hungry, and our emotions were soothed with warm, sweet milk. Later in life we are given a lolly at the doctor’s office, celebrated birthdays with cake etc., it’s only natural to carry the habit of emotional eating into adult life.

Physical Hunger cues

It might sound obvious, but in many cases, we are thinking of food as a result of physical hunger. We get so caught up in our daily lives that we don’t pick up our physical hunger cues. We have been socially conditioned to only eat at certain times of the day, but our bodies don’t work like that. When we ignore feelings of hunger, food thoughts will become louder and before you know it, you are daydreaming about your favourite comfort food.

In order to stop thinking of food, we first need to bring awareness to the fact that we are thinking of food. This is not always easy as these thoughts can be buried under many other thoughts running through our minds. If we do start recognising the thoughts, we can ask ourselves, “Am I actually hungry or is there something else that I’m feeling?

If the food thought originates from hunger, make sure to find something filling to eat and notice how the thoughts and cravings for food fade away.

If you are not hungry on the other hand, chances are that you are experiencing discomfort from either an emotional or physical nature. In this case, here are 3 ways to manage food thoughts.

3 Ways to Start Managing Food Thoughts

Emotional wellbeing check-in

Take time during the day to check in with your body and emotions. Constantly thinking about food can be a signal for something being out of balance in your emotional or physical states.  Check in regularly with how you are feeling and notice if this correlates with wild fantasies about doughnuts.

One way to check in is to simply rate yourself out of 10 of how stressed, overwhelmed or tired you are feeling. Make sure to scan your body for tightness and pain as well.

Make a self-care plan from what you notice and make sure to follow through on this plan. The more you ignore these symptoms, the louder food thoughts will be.

Be clever with your time

Often, we feel overwhelmed with our busy schedules and this can lead to either skipping meals or overbearing cravings. Meal prep is a great tool to save time. It allows us to always have our meals ready, so we never go hungry, in turn we won’t be triggered by cravings.

Prioritising tasks and to do lists are vital to avoid being overwhelmed, make sure to schedule in some me time and let go of some of the tasks that aren’t vitally important. Make sure to schedule in your mealtimes too. If we get to busy focusing on all the to do’s, we are bound to overshoot our hunger levels and we will start hearing louder thought of food.

Don’t make food the enemy

For emotional eaters this creates food obsession, we cannot stop thinking about food, we think about food more than other things or people!!! We have been conditioned to fear certain food types, to ban certain foods in our households but when we do that, all we can think of are the foods that we have outlawed. Instead of restricting certain foods, give yourself permission to have all foods. Permission is such a big mind shift over forbidding. Allowing all food is the way to go, I know this thought can be scary but bringing a neutral outlook to all foods will allow balance and your cravings will soon calm down. Enjoy your food mindfully and make sure to indulge every now and again so you don’t feel deprived.

It takes trust, your body will guide you, eventually you will feel empowered around food, In fact, food becomes a non-event, you eat at meal times and then you go on with your day, you are more productive and have so much time to think of all the other things that are important to you!!

Are you out of Balance?Zen stone and sand

Obsessively thinking of food is a signal that something in your body is out of balance, you can choose to ignore it and let it lead you to a full blow out binge or you can choose to check in and work with the thoughts instead of against them.

Estelle Coombe-Heath uses her signature Quit Binge Eating formulas and sessions  to help career women dive into self transformation. From a background in business analytics, Estelle now leads various holistic programs on changing mindsets around eating and healthy food choices. She supports her clients to cultivate healthy eating habits and to build trust with food. Download Estelle’s 4 simple steps to stop emotional eating WITHOUT DIETING!!!

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