I really want to eat all of these things – but I don’t even enjoy the food anymore”
“It’s as though I can’t even taste the food anymore – I am just inhaling it”
“I get stressed/bored/sad and eat – but after the first bite I don’t really enjoy what I’m eating anyway”
So many people tell me that they are over-eating but that they don’t even enjoy the food that they eat anymore. It is almost as though they are just reaching for that food on auto-pilot mode, when they get stressed/tired/upset or because it is just a habit they have formed. Therefore, one thing I hear time and time again – is that eating this food comes with no or very little pleasure. If anything, individuals end up feeling incredibly guilty and bad about themselves after eating these “treats” and “bad” foods that they find themselves craving most of the time.
So why is this? Why do you want this food so much but then not even enjoy it when you eat it? It is all because of what is going on in your mind when you reach for these foods. You crave these “bad” foods due to way in which these foods (especially sugary foods) affect your brain – they can light up reward centres which give you intense short term pleasure. Yet as you eat more and more of these foods, you need more and more to feel the same sense of pleasure. Your brain also begins to associate eating these foods with feelings of pleasure and then anytime you feel bored/low/stressed, you look to these foods for pleasure and comfort.
Yet there is a big issue with looking to these foods for pleasure and comfort. Firstly, if you have not resolved the thing that is causing you to be bored/stressed/sad etc. you will keep wanting more and more of that pleasure – the pleasure is only short-term, so you will definitely over-eat. Also, because you know that you shouldn’t be eating so much – the over-eating will bring about feelings of guilt and make you feel as though you have no control.
So using food to self-medicate stress/boredom/sadness etc. will only even cause you to feel out of control around food and lose enjoyment in food. You are not eating because you are hungry or because you like the taste of the food – you are eating to try and get the pleasure/reward that this food gives you. Similarly, just eating certain “bad” foods when you hit the 3pm slump or at the end of a long day may give you temporary pleasure but as it starts to lead you to over-eat, you will just end up feeling awful about yourself. This cycle is extremely dangerous. Sugary foods in particular are highly addictive due to the way that they interact with our brains – so once you start you really can’t stop – it is not your fault.
So why don’t you enjoy the all the food you are craving anymore? – Because you are no longer eating because you enjoy the food and are hungry – you are eating to heal your stress/boredom/anxiety/sadness or because it has just become a habit. Moreover, because the food doesn’t give you the same pleasure that it used to – you tend to over-eat and this just makes you feel bad. So how do you fix this? At The Food Psychology Clinic we first work with you to help you to resolve or manage any stress/boredom/anxiety/sadness etc. so that you no longer need to use food as a coping mechanism. We then work with you to build new habits and create more healthy coping mechanisms. You can never fix issues around food with just a diet or meal plan – you need to get to the root of what is causing you to over-eat and to heal this completely – to set yourself free from having to worry about food…so that you can finally enjoy food again!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to book in for a free consultation to discuss how you can resolve your issues around food for good.