Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Emotional Eating

Making a commitment to lose weight is ultimately about changing one's behavior.

And that is as simple or as difficult, as making different choices often.

When I first talked to Sara Sullivan about her weight loss goals, she was aware of the emotional comfort and satisfaction she derives from eating certain foods over others.

In other words, she's aware that from time-to-time, she feeds her emotions, as we all do.

Understanding our emotional patterns around food and eating is enormously helpful when trying to lose weight. When you can catch yourself using food to stuff down fear or sadness, grief or anger, then it's the first step on the path to awareness around choice.

And that choice might be as simple as putting the comfort food back in the pantry or fridge, and feeling the emotion instead of using food to avoid feeling.

I have a sweet tooth, and usually I keep a chocolate treat on hand. It's my comfort food. But when I eat it mindlessly, stuffing one choccie in after another, without awareness of flavor or texture, I'll catch myself and self-query along lines of, "What's going on? Somethings bothering you, what is it?"

It's an incredibly powerful exercise, listening to one's inner voice instead of ignoring it and stuffing it down. That voice has important things to say, insights that will help us on the path to making the changes we need to make around our eating habits and patterns.

That said, next time you engage in a bout of emotional eating ask yourself, "What's going on? What am I feeling or not feeling right now."

Yesterday, I proposed a number of sides and a main-meal idea that Sara could make with some of the groceries she purchased.

Another side idea, which I previously posted on this blog, and which readers have said they love, is Cripsy Kale. It's a fun way to prepare this leafy, somewhat chewy and bitter green, and because it really does come out crispy, it will add texture and interest to any meal.

Sara also bought a bulb of fennel when we shopped together. With the texture and color of celery and a subtle anise flavor, fennel is as versatile as celery. Eat it raw, in soups, or sauteed with other veggies.

Here are a couple ways to prepare fennel with the items Sara purchased.

Fennel Mirepoix
1) Chop a fennel bulb, a large carrot, and one small onion into pieces.
2) Saute in a little butter and oil and then transfer veggies to a casserole dish or Dutch oven, spreading veggies out.
3) Top veggies with either pieces of fish, chicken or pork.
4) Add a slurp of white wine, if you have an open bottle, if not, add a bit of water.
5) Toss in a sprig of tarragon or thyme or sage.
6) Bake in 350-degree oven until protein item is done.

To Serve: Spoon mirepoix of vegetables onto a plate, top with your choice of protein item, and serve with a side of crispy kale.

Fennel Salad
1) Slice fennel bulb into thin strips.
2) Drizzle with rice-wine vinegar.
3) Gently stir in the green olive, caper and lemon-peel tapenade or the deli mix of olives, feta and red peppercorns. (Sara bought these wet items at Whole Foods olive bar.)

To Serve: Try adding this salad atop a serving of the olive-oiled spaghetti squash with a piece of broiled fish, chicken or pork or for a vegetarian meal, place atop a serving of cooked, red quinoa, stirring in a serving of sauteed kale.

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