The connection between food and your feelings is a tough one.
It’s possibly the greatest health struggle I see women experience.
They’re often left feeling powerless and incapable of healthy eating.
Since they keep allowing their negative emotions to determine their actions with food.
In this episode, I explain why this is happening and how your negative emotions are preventing you from eating healthy.
While also filling you in on how you can create new emotions that serve your eating habits in the future.
Hello my friend and welcome back to the podcast. I am so excited to be back here for another episode with you. And I hope you already listened to episode number one and gained value from it. So, as I’ve mentioned, this podcast for me has been a long time coming and it makes me so happy that you are here and that I get to teach you a different way to change your eating habits. With this podcast, it really means a lot to me that I’m able to change your perspective around healthy eating in a way that’s new to you. My mission with this work is to show you that not only can healthy eating feel really sustainable and natural for you, but that you are the answer. You are the one who can create healthy eating habits for yourself. And you can learn to be responsible for your own eating choices in a way where you’re providing yourself love and nourishment through food. So, you never have to rely on some restrictive, unfulfilling method of eating that’s outside of you. So, this right here is really why I’m so so excited you’re here.
And today, we’re going to get deeper into possibly the biggest obstacle I see women face when it comes to healthy eating. And that is understanding exactly how our feelings affect the way we eat. So, in the first episode, I really wanted to cover the big question that most of you are asking. Which is why you’re not eating healthy, right now. Why you’re not taking the right actions with food that you want to be taking. And why you’re not eating in a way that will bring you those results with your body that you want. In that first episode, I wanted to give you a 1000 foot overview as to why that is happening. So, if you haven’t listened to episode one yet be sure to go back and listen to that. But, moving on, in this episode, I want to take you a bit deeper and explain how your feelings are determining your eating choices. And what to do about this so you can create the eating habits you want.
As we discussed in the previous episode, your thoughts lead to your feelings, actions, and results in life. So, in terms of healthy eating, your thoughts and feelings lead to your actions with food, which determine the results you have with your body. Whether that’s your weight or overall health. And our thoughts and feelings are the part of the equation that most of us are not focusing on. Which is why many of us don’t have the eating habits we want. So, this is why action-based diets and weight loss programs do not work out long-term. They are only focusing on the actions with food, or on what you eat, to try and bring you different results with your body quickly. This process skips over the real work that needs to be done to create eating habits that last. Which are your thoughts and feelings. It’s that inner work. When you try and force healthy eating actions, and you’re forcing yourself to eat a certain way, you are quite literally fighting your current feelings. You’re attempting to harness willpower so you can work against your current brain at that time. So, with all of that, it’s really important we understand that what directly leads to our actions with food, is our feelings and emotions.
And there’s no question that, as humans, we just want to feel really good all the time, right? Who doesn’t want that? We want to feel happy, nourished, and fulfilled as much as possible. In terms of our health, most of us just want to feel happy and confident in our bodies. But the thing about our feelings is we tend to think, as humans, that they happen for external reasons outside of us. We tend to believe that feelings are caused by our circumstances in life. We’ll say, “This person made me unhappy”, “I would be happier if I had a different job” or “I would feel more confident if I lost weight”. And this gets us into trouble. This is actually how the diet industry has flourished in our society. Because they are selling weight loss, or something external, as the key to you feeling happy. They’re selling you the idea that you need their weight loss program and healthy eating tactics to achieve the external results with your body that you want. So you can achieve happiness and experience that emotion. And this never, ever works. For me, I truly believed that healthy eating and weight loss meant happiness. I really did. I believed I would never feel fulfilled in life unless I weighed a certain amount. It’s almost like I was putting my life on hold until I weighed a certain amount. Like, I wasn’t my “real self” until I hit that number on the scale. And if you guys are anything like I was, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. In this case, I was giving my external results with my body so much power. And I legitimately thought that this external circumstance would be the cause of my happiness. This only caused me to feel very unfulfilled over and over again. The past would always repeat itself with every restrictive diet I went on. And I kept recreating the same results I always had. And there’s a big reason for that, right? It’s because those external circumstances I was trying to achieve with my body were never going to be responsible for my happiness. Or my feelings in general. That’s not how the sequence of life works.
What is responsible for our feelings is our thoughts in our brain. And thoughts are simply sentences in your head which are optional. Which means, your feelings are always within your control. They are not due to your circumstances that are outside of you. They’re not due to your job, relationships, weight, or income. Feelings are due to your brain and the thoughts you’re thinking. And we know this because the richest person on the planet can be miserable and unfulfilled. While the poorest person on the planet can be happy and extremely fulfilled in life. The fittest, slimmest person on the planet can be less fulfilled and happy than the person who is overweight by society’s standards. Happiness or emotion does not come from external circumstances. And this fact can be a little tough for some people to believe. Which is understandable. For most of us, our entire lives, we’re taught that external circumstances create feelings. We’re taught that people, things, and experiences make us feel a certain way. But this is actually not true. So, a really good example is when someone passes away. Which seems kind of morbid but this is a great example. If the circumstance of that person passing away directly caused your emotion, everyone with that knowledge would feel that emotion, right? But this is not the case. A hundred people can hear the news of someone’s passing but all feel differently. And experience different emotions. It’s because of their thoughts. Your experience of a circumstance and how you feel about a circumstance is because of the thought you’re thinking.
And this is really good to know in terms of health, weight loss, and eating habits. Your experience of this journey with your health will be based on your thoughts about it. For example, let’s say there’s two women with the same exact circumstances when it comes to their health. They eat the same, weigh the same, and they’re both total beginners to this work. And neither of them have ever successfully maintained healthy eating habits or weight loss. One of those women can choose to think thoughts like, “I don’t know what I’m doing”, “This has never worked out for me”, all of those thoughts that are based in scarcity and powerlessness. Well, she’s likely going to experience feelings such as self-doubt and fear. Which isn’t going to bring her to a place where she’ll take the right actions with food to see the results she wants. On the other hand, this second woman can choose to think thoughts like, “This is a fresh start. I’ve never done this before, but now’s as good a time as any. I’m ready to move forward. Let’s go.” Where she’s all in and she has this sense of self-confidence and commitment. This woman may have setbacks here and there. But she’s creating the feelings that will allow her to take action to get the results she wants. So, two people with the same circumstances can create totally different experiences and feelings based on their thoughts about those circumstances.
And to clarify, a feeling, or emotion, is simply a vibration in your body. That’s all it really is. We tend to attach so much weight and meaning to the emotions we experience. Especially our negative emotions. And it’s important to know that a feeling is simply a vibration in your body. Nothing more. And there’s nothing inherently scary about negative emotions. The only thing scary about them is what you make those negative emotions mean. And how you let those emotions affect your actions and results in life. Now, if you’re not maintaining healthy eating habits right now, it’s highly likely that you’re reacting to negative emotions you’re currently experiencing. So, let me explain what I mean by this. It’s important to know that you will never arrive at a place in your life where there is no negative emotion. All of the humans experience negative emotion approximately fifty percent of the time. That’s just the way it works. Negative emotion will always be there in your life. And while this may sound like a bummer, it’s actually great news. Because this means that you can stop making your negative emotions mean something has gone wrong. Negative emotions are actually supposed to be there from time to time. And this also means that the people who eat healthy really effortlessly and intentionally also experience negative emotion. The difference with these individuals, is that they are not reacting to their negative emotions when it comes to food. If you don’t have the healthy eating habits you want, it’s likely that you are reacting to the negative emotion with food through the way you eat. So, it’s important that you learn, first, how to stop reacting to your negative emotion through food. And second, how to create new emotions that will serve you.
Now, you want to create awareness around what feelings you’re experiencing most often. Because these feelings will be the fuel for your eating actions right now. So, think to yourself, what are the top 3 feelings you experience every single day? Don’t beat yourself up for what comes up for you. Just be really honest. What 3 feelings do you most experience? Take your best guess and write them down. Then, ask yourself, what daily thoughts are creating those feelings for you? What thoughts if you think them actively in your mind cause you to experience those emotions? Write these down as well. Then, ask yourself, how are each of these feelings affecting my eating habits right now? So, you’re going to have this all written down so you can gain clarity as to how your feelings are affecting your eating actions right now. The goal with this isn’t to fix your negative emotion. It’s to have an awareness as to the negative emotion that’s occurring. Because you can’t just get rid of negative emotion by replacing it with positive emotion. To manage your negative feelings, so you stop reacting to it through food, you need to get really good at feeling these negative emotions. So, when one comes up for you, I want you to just become really familiar with it. Identify what it feels like in your body. And really get to know this feeling through and through. Because what this does, it teaches your body that you’re someone who can experience that negative emotion. You teach your body that there’s nothing scary about those feelings and that you can still follow through on your healthy eating goals when those feelings are present.
Next, you want to practice creating new emotions that will serve you and your eating habits. So, think about what feelings will compel you to take the actions with food that you want to be taking. Maybe that’s commitment, love, dedication — whatever that is for you. Examine the top feeling that would most compel you to take healthy eating actions. Then, I want you to create a list of thoughts that would allow you to experience that feeling. So, think about the emotion that you want to create, try sitting in that emotion, and observe what thoughts would bring up that emotion for you. If the feeling you want to create is commitment, ask yourself “what would someone who felt committed be thinking, right now?”. And there’s no right way to do this. This is a practice. The only way to change how you feel is to choose thoughts and practice them so you can create different emotions over time.
For me, when I tried to eat healthier and lose weight for years, the negative feelings I felt most often were worry, self-doubt, and fear. These were the emotions that I would let sabotage my eating habits. Eventually, when I began practicing this work, I learned to experience these emotions instead of pushing them away with food. From there, I was able to practice creating feelings that would better serve my eating habits. For me those were love, commitment, and excitement for eating healthy. And I still do this today. This is a very intentional practice that I’m always doing. And this practice doesn’t end as long as you’re a human being. It’s like going to the gym, but for your brain. You need to practice thinking the thoughts and creating the feelings that will serve your health and eating habits. And you need to practice processing and feeling the negative emotions that don’t serve you. This will remove the resistance from healthy eating so you’re no longer relying on willpower and you’re not forcing yourself to eat a certain way. This is everything. Alright, my friends. I hope this provided you with all of the clarity. And I’ll talk to you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.