5 Reasons I Eat. How About You?

How and what you eat plays a major role in your health. Yet how much thought have you ever given to the reasons that you eat? What makes you munch? Here are my five major reasons.

#1 – Hunger. Hunger is an excellent reason to eat! We need food to live and our bodies are designed to let us know when we could use a little more. Now perhaps we eat too much (or the wrong things) when we get hungry, but hunger itself is an important signal to help keep us healthy. I try to eat when I’m hungry. Verdict: Helpful.

#2 – Emotions. When you’re feeling upset, eating can help you feel better. Certain foods are often emotionally comforting, from which we get the term “comfort foods.” I find myself most likely to eat for comfort when I’m stressed, lonely or bored. Unfortunately, eating is not actually a good way of managing stress, loneliness or boredom. It’s a temporary relief at best and overeating causes its own problems. Verdict: Not Helpful

#3 – Habit. Like many of us, I’m used to three meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hungry or not, I sit down to eat by habit. This is not necessarily bad assuming that I am, in general, eating foods that are healthy for me (which is usually the case). I’m just dining before I otherwise would be hungry. However, it is possible to gain a lot of weight eating (overeating) by habit. Verdict: Mixed. 

#4 – Eating with Others. Eating together can be a nice way to meet someone. Humans are social creatures and it’s enjoyable to share a meal and spend time with others. Gathering for the evening dinner is an important way to keep family members feeling connected and close to one another. But it is pretty common to serve more food than is really needed, and prolonged dining increases the tendency to overeat. Verdict: Mixed. Good for relationships, but possibly bad for the waistline.

#5 – Because it’s There/For Pleasure. For me, this mostly represents snacking.  Or perhaps an “all you can eat” buffet. If the food is present and tasty, I’m going to want to eat it for pleasure. The food simply tempts me and I eat it. I think this is pretty common. Most of us aren’t all that good at resisting temptation. When snacks, cookies, candy or other treats are in view, they are going to be hard to resist. Verdict: Not Helpful

How about you? Why do you eat? If you’re interested in changing your eating habits, take a week or two to identify the reasons you eat. Get a small notebook (or use your smart phone) and every time you eat a meal or snack ask yourself “Why am I eating this?” Be honest.  Record the answer. After a couple of weeks review and analyze your answers.

In future posts I’ll write about how I handle some of the situations above. Please let me know if you have a particular issue you’d like me to cover.