The Connection Between Uncertainty and Food

Written by Nabila Bhimji

A Registered Holistic Nutritionist, a certified Food Psychology Coach, Mind-Body/Coach, Food Relationship Coach, and Life Coach from Coquitlam, BC. - Canada

March 11, 2021

Treating Food Addictions

Life can be uncertain at the best of times, but when your are faced with a pandemic onto top of family, work, health and financial worries, it can be a tumultuous endeavor to bring control and harmony back into your life. Although, there are many ways to cope with and to sooth feelings of being out of control, unsure, anxious and like we are losing grip of our lives, many of us turn to food as a way to cope. It can seem like the one sure thing in our lives is the way food (or other substances) is going to make us feel. Food can end up feeling like our one true companion and the one certain thing we can control and depend on to make us feel a certain way. They way food makes us feel can be the one reliable thing when there is so much uncertainty.

For me, sugar was my tool for dealing with life. Sugar gave me comfort, satisfaction and the sense that “everything was going to be alright” I used it as a child when I would see my parents fight, or when I was working at job that was high pressure and was sucking the life out of me.

Healing from addiction takes time. Even after I graduated from Nutrition school, I was still addicted to sugar. It was my secret shame for quite a while. I mean, imagine being a nutrition that still hid and snuck sugary treats when no one was looking. But then I decided to take the advice I give my clients- “Be gentle with yourself “. Compassion is the key,we are all in this journey together.

If you feel a binge coming on stop and ask yourself what you were doing or thinking about just before you had your food compulsion. Awareness is huge key to healing. Figure out if you are truely hungry or if you are using food to deal with an uncomfortable situaltion or feelings, or anxious about life in general. Try and replace your need to eat with some of the following healthy alternatives instead:

Feel your feelings. It has been said that the best way through emotions is by feeling them. By sitting with your uncertainty and all the emotions that come with it, you are acknowledging they exist and they can therefore be released quicker. Bring these feelings out of the darkness and into the light and healing can begin.

Journal how you feeling. Again acknowledging and bringing your feeling to light is the first step towards healing and releasing them and many find getting them out your body and into paper to be great release and healer.

Come up with solutions ahead of time of worse case scenarios . Although it is unlikely that what we fear will really happen, it helps to go over what you would do ahead of time if they did come to fruition. This empowers you and put you back in control.

Make a list of all that is certain in your life and that you do have control over. Showing your self that you can and have overcome uncertainty in the past is a great boost to the self-esteem, and reminder you that you can overcome challenging situation and survive them

Of course nutriton plays huge contributing factor when dealing with addiction.Make sure your getting enough protein and healthy fats. Amino acids are key for mental health. Including good quality protein in your diet helps not only with your emotional health, but also the health of your nervous system. Good quality fats such as Omega 3 help with cognition, mood and depression.

Go for meat that have not had extra hormones or antibiotics added, free range eggs, quinoa, beans, nuts and seed. Great sources of Omega 3 include walnuts, fish, hemp, flax or chia seeds.

Avoid sugar and caffeine and alcohol as much as possible as the make anxiety, depression and stress worse.

Other healthy ways to deal with the stress of uncertaintly include:

Engage in self care

Talk to a trusted friend

Make sure you are getting enough rest

Get professional help

Life can be uncertain at the best of times, but when your are faced with a pandemic onto top of family, work, health and financial worries, it can be a tumultuous endeavor to bring control and harmony  into your life. Although, there are many ways to cope with and to sooth feelings of being out of control, unsure, anxious and like we are losing grip of our lives, many of us turn to food as a way to cope. It can seem like the one sure thing in our lives is the way food (or other substances) is going to make us feel. Food can end up feeling like our one true companion and the one certain thing we can control and depend on to make us feel a certain way. They way food makes us feel can be the one reliable thing when there is so much uncertainty.

For me, sugar was my tool for dealing with life. Sugar gave me comfort, satisfaction and the sense that “everything was going to be alright” I used it as a child when I would see my parents fight, or when I was working at job that was high pressure and was sucking the life out of me.

Healing from addiction takes time. Even after I graduated from Nutrition school, I was still addicted to sugar. It was my secret shame for quite a while. I mean, imagine being a nutrition that  snuck sugary treats when no one was looking. But then I decided to take the advice I give my clients- “Be gentle with yourself “.” Compassion is the key, we are all in this journey together.”

If you feel a binge coming on, stop and ask yourself what you were doing or thinking about just before you had your food compulsion. Awareness is huge key to healing. Figure out if you are truly hungry or if you are using food to deal with an uncomfortable situation or feelings, or if you are  anxious about life in general. Try and replace your need to eat with some of the following healthy alternatives instead:

Feel your feelings. It has been said that the best way through emotions is by feeling them. By sitting with your uncertainty and all the emotions that come with it, you are acknowledging they exist and they can therefore be released quicker. Bring these feelings out of the darkness and into the light, and healing can begin.

Journal how you are  feeling. Again, acknowledging and bringing your feelings to light is the first step towards healing and releasing them, and many find getting them out your body and into paper to be great way to let go and start the healing process.

Come up with solutions ahead of time for  worse case scenarios . Although it is unlikely that what we fear will really happen, it helps to go over what you would do ahead of time if they did come to fruition. This empowers you and puts you back in control.

Make a list of all that is certain in your life and that you do have control over. Showing your self that you can and have overcome uncertainty in the past is a great boost to the self-esteem, and reminder you that you can overcome challenging situation and survive them

Of course, nutrition is a huge contributing factor when dealing with addiction. Make sure you are getting enough protein and healthy fats everyday. Amino acids from proteins are key for mental health, emotional balance, memory and for the health of the nervous system. Good quality fats, such as Omega 3 help with cognition, mood and depression.

Go for lean meats without added hormones, free range eggs, quinoa, beans, nuts and seed. Great sources of Omega 3 include walnuts, fish, hemp, flax or chia seeds.  Other healthy fats include nuts, coconut and olive oil. Avoid trans fats or vegetable oil, such as canola.

Avoid sugar, caffeine and alcohol as much as possible, as the make anxiety, depression and stress worse and make it hard to sleep at night.

Other healthy ways to deal with the stress of uncertainty include:

Engaging in self care

Talking  to a trusted friend or family member

Getting enough sleep and recreation

Getting professional help from a trusted therapist.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Self-care is very important, thank you for sharing this Nabila.

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