So, I often take the time to read posts on other carnivore groups and there is one thing that I notice a lot. People that are using food as an emotional crutch.
There is no denying that people love food and enjoy the physical pleasure of eating, even when the foods eaten are not that good for your health.
Another aspect is the preparing and cooking of food. We all know that with ZC food shopping, food prep and cooking is simplicity itself. However, this often removes another ritual that people struggle to shake off – and what do you do with all your extra free time out of the kitchen…?
Food is fuel – not entertainment
I believe that food is fuel, but it should also make us feel good and be a pleasure to eat. Who’s mouth doesn’t water at the thought of frying up a juicy steak or some crispy bacon rashers, right?
However, our biological programming to seek out pleasurable foods as well as the cultural aspect around eating means that we have developed very emotional attachments to some foods. We are drawn towards eating certain foods because they act as an emotional crutch for us.
Even following a carnivore-style way of eating we can still develop new emotional crutch-like habits towards our food and drink. With me it is coffee – it gives me that much-needed boost in the morning and I find it hard to get into the right frame of mind for work without a large mug of steaming coffee.
Our emotions can also derail our ZC progress. How many times have you read posts where someone has fallen off the wagon because of an emotional crisis happening in their life? Lots of times, right?
In times of high anxiety and stress, we will often return to eating those familiar foods that made us feel good in the past, quite often with distressing results that only act to make us feel worse. We can use food as a tool to distract us from dealing with the real issue at hand.
Grieving your old favourite foods
When you first start out on your ZC path you can also go through a period of grieving. Yes, actual physical and mental grieving for all those foods that you will have to sacrifice for your health, and this loss of the familiar can often be the reason why so many people fail on ZC. They are simply not emotionally strong enough to let these things go.
I went through a grieving stage too. The idea that I would never eat a cream cake again, or eat cheese straws or chew my way through another bag of wine gums actually shocked me! I grieved for all these things – and many more favourite treats too. It was quite a sad experience to go through.
So, what can we do to get through the grieving period and stop using food as an emotional crutch in times of crisis?
Firstly, we need to accept that we are going to face stressful times in the future that will test our resolve. It’s inevitable. The death of a loved one, losing a job, the breakdown of a relationship etc. That’s life and this stuff happens. Accept it.
Realising what is causing your desire to dive head-first into the trifle bowl is important, but you also must stop and think about your actions. Question everything. Will eating the entire contents of the biscuit tin help you get you ex-back, get your job back or bring back a deceased loved one? No. No, it will not.
Giving in to your emotional eating will feel good for approximately 30 seconds or until the bowl or biscuit tin is empty. Then what? You start to feel even worse.
So not only are you grieving for your loss (whatever that is) but you have also sabotaged your physical and mental health meaning you are less able to cope with what is really going on in your life at this moment.
At times like these choose to respect yourself instead. Go and do something to distract you from using food as an emotional crutch. Instead, do something positive and nice for yourself.
Make a list of your non-food related favourite activities. Copy your list and stick it to the front of your fridge, freezer and food cupboards. Make sure this list is bright and very visible. The next time you go to open the fridge in a negative emotional state stop and choose something from your list to do instead.
Choose a few of your favourite things
Book yourself a massage, get your nails done, go swimming or take a yoga class, take a long bath, take the dog out for a long walk in the countryside – anything to distract your mind and treat yourself with kindness.
Remember that you are better than this. You don’t have to self-sabotage your health because of a crisis.
If your stressful situation or grief is driving you to eat and you really cannot distract yourself, just make sure you are well prepared.
Stock your fridge with plenty of carnivore-friendly foods. Stock your cupboard with jerky and tinned fish. Sometimes we can cave into mindless eating where it doesn’t matter what food we have in the house – we will eat it because it is there.
Making sure what is there is carnivore friendly can really help in situations where you cannot escape and easily distract your mind. You will be so glad you did this.
Remember that all stressful situations and emotional reactions are transient – this too shall pass.