Why does chocolate, ice cream and other comfort food snacks have such tremendous power over us? Sure, the sugar and artificial ingredients that are designed to burst with flavor in our mouth that release feel-good chemicals in our brain are a big part of it. BOOM – you are now emotional eating.
But there’s got to be something else to the power of junk food. After all, if we know they’re bad for us, why do we time and time again give into cravings. If we were able to effectively use our rational mind, we’d be able to JUST SAY NO to comfort foods as easily as we (hopefully) do to cigarettes and drugs.
If we are powerful against high-sugar, high-salt, high-calorie snacks, is it because we lack willpower? Do we have an innate weakness or mental defect? Is it because we have an addictive personality?
The good news is that the answer to all these questions is “NO.”
And this is for two reasons. As I wrote about previously, being fat is not your fault. There really needs to be a revolutionary rethinking about obesity. (I highly encourage you to read this incredible article about the subject.)
It’s the second problem which I’ll focus on. You see, the problem is that our rational, conscious mind is powerless against overeating. Despite trying as best as you can to avoid the candy or ice cream aisle at the supermarket, even if you’re successful for weeks or even months, the gnawing desire to eat a whole pint is still there…
…The pleasure that’s associated with comfort food won’t vanish. And even if your logical mind knows that eating it is bad for you, all the guilt and shame over giving in to your cravings won’t matter; in your subconscious mind, comfort food will always be a sensory delight.
Reversing Positive Associations With Comfort Food
Did you break your arm falling off the monkey bars when you were a kid? Did you get dumped by your boyfriend? Getting hurt and having your heart broken is a rite of passage. What does heartbreak and bone breaks have to do with overeating? Everything!
Check out how simple the association is. And when you get it, it’s the first critical step in overcoming eating…
OK, so after anything bad happened to you, if you had a good mother in your life, what did mom do for you after anything traumatic happened when you were younger? Many a mom would try to ease the pain, be it physical or emotional, with a treat of some kind (pie, ice cream, cookies, cake).
Maybe you can think back to a certain time that mom comforted you with comfort food…
And all these years later, that imprint is still there. You still associate comfort food with happiness. You had a crappy day at work and the memory of mom taking care of you is deeply ingrained—even though mom’s no longer around to take care of you.
Now don’t blame mom for overeating. Parents don’t get child rearing handbooks before a kid is born. (And if there were such a thing, the book would probably suggest giving kids a treat to quiet them down after an injury.)
Conquer Comfort Food Overeating By Looking To The Present, Not The Past Or Future
Every single time you give in to cravings, on a certain level, you’re trying to revisit your childhood, when you felt protected and comforted. In this cruel world, you need all the comfort you can get, right … even if it’s at the bottom of a pint of ice cream. And the crazy thing is that your conscious mind knows that you’ll regret it later. Again, in a battle between the conscious and subconscious mind, the buried past always wins. It’s pointless to set future weight loss goals without understanding this key concept. Weight loss goals can be met but you know the rest of the story. Within months, or even weeks or days after reaching the goal, cravings end up getting the best of you and sabotage the success.
What I want you to do right now is schedule a call with me so I can briefly explain how I will help you reprogram your mind. Working together, we’ll banish your cravings for comfort food once and for all. No more yo-yo fad dieting. No more feeling guilty. No more feeling ashamed or insecure! You can do this!!! Now is the time to start living your best life.
To sustainably achieving your health goals,
Jenna L. Witt, APRN
Family Medicine/Functional Medicine
Certified Health Coach