Happy eating is something we take pretty seriously here at Around the Plate. After all, our motto is “live healthy, eat happy” and we truly believe that people can do both by learning to love nourishing, nutrient-rich foods.
So when a study came out saying that happy eating increases your odds of overeating, we started to get a little panicky! Both for all the readers who we have been encouraging for years to eat happily along and for ourselves because lets face it, if eating happy means you overindulge, the only way to eat the right amount would require us to eat unhappily right? And that to me sounds dreadful.
Before you all freak out with me, lets be clear about one thing. The results of this study have nothing to do with how much you enjoy your food at meal times. Instead, “happy eating” in this study simply means that you eat when you are feeling happy – not that you are happily enjoying and savoring your food when its time to eat it. These two acts sound really similar, but they are actually quite different.
The first could be classified as a form of emotional eating. Although we often tie emotional eating to negative feelings, it does make sense that when we are in a good mood, our food decisions may sway just as easily as they would when negative feelings or emotions strike. To test this theory, researchers showed an array of movie clips to study participants to see just how feelings may impact eating decisions. Sure enough, those who watched the positive movie clip were more likely to overindulge as they ate. Interestingly enough, those who saw the negative film clip did not overindulge afterwards. Of course, they did watch the ending of the Green Mile and I have to say I probably wouldn’t have much of an appetite either after seeing someone get electrocuted.
Luckily, emotional eating doesn’t have to get the best of you and I think that’s the main take away here. Emotional eating isn’t based on hunger. Its based on events and situations that occur in your every day life. Sometimes it can even cause you to crave or want specific foods right away in response to whatever emotion, positive or negative, you are experiencing. See how this isn’t the same as sitting down and enjoying the foods you eat?
Sitting down and thoroughly enjoying the foods you eat doesn’t tend to happen on a whim or because of a triggering emotional event. Instead, allowing yourself to savor each bite you take requires intentional thought and planning. Being present at each meal can also help you better listen to your body’s cues and signals. Believe it or not, your body knows a lot more about what you need then you might think. We just get really good at ignoring what its saying and let things like our emotions drown out those important cues and signals.
So eat happy, not emotionally, but by deliberately planning to enjoy those nutrient-rich foods you serve yourself on a regular basis.
How do you define “happy eating?”