When you hear the term, “eating psychology,” what comes to mind? For a lot of us, there’s an assumption that the psychology of eating only really matters when someone is suffering from an eating disorder.
But here’s the big news: that’s so not the case. Here at the Institute, we’ve developed an approach called Dynamic Eating Psychology that’s designed to uplift and empower anyone who eats food.
It’s not just about eating disorders
Picture this. It’s a Tuesday morning. You’re running out the door, headed for work. You realize that your car is snowed in and you need to shovel it out. You have to do it quickly, or you’ll be late for your first meeting. So instead of sitting down to enjoy your breakfast, you shove a granola bar into your pocket, which you scarf down at red lights on the way to the office. Sound familiar?
The bottom line is, much of the time, we’re eating on autopilot. We have busy schedules and we don’t give a lot of consideration to what (or how) we eat. As a result, eating begins to feel like something that just, sort of, happens. We don’t think much about how our lifestyles and emotional and psychological states impact the way we eat. In short, we may not realize that eating psychology profoundly influences us every day.
Imagine you’re in the running for a promotion, so you start putting in extra hours at the office. That means you don’t have time to cook when you get home. On top of that, you’re emotionally drained from the stress of competing for that new job. So you resort to convenience foods. It’s completely understandable—and it’s eating psychology playing out in your everyday life.
Thoughts and emotions influence how all of us eat, all the time.
Dynamic Eating Psychology
So what is it, exactly? It’s an approach developed here at the Institute that recognizes the fact that eating psychology applies to everyone—whereas traditional approaches have focused more on those suffering from eating disorders.
What’s unique about Dynamic Eating Psychology is that it examines how our eating habits are deeply intertwined with—and reflective of—everything else that’s going on in our lives. It sees the way we eat as a window into an even deeper understanding of ourselves, which can lead to transformational growth and healing.
For example, maybe your tendency to tear into a bag of Doritos when you get home at the end of the day isn’t due to “a lack of willpower.” Maybe it’s because potato chips were a comfort food for you as a kid and you’re turning to them now as a tool to help you cope with emotional stress that you’re not sure how to deal with. That’s perfectly reasonable. Once you uncover the role the Doritos play in your life, you can begin to explore the larger shifts you want to make that will help you become happier, live more authentically, and develop more beneficial eating habits.
You know how some websites look different depending on whether you’re using a phone or a laptop? That’s because, in techie lingo, they’re “responsive.” That means all those crazy 1’s and 0’s are indicating whether you’re viewing the site from a mobile device or a computer, and the site adapts to accommodate your needs.
Dynamic Eating Psychology is the same way. It’s not about finding the diet that’s always going to be perfect for you—one that will give you unbounded energy and a knockout body for the rest of your life. And it’s certainly not about discovering a diet that’s perfect for everyone, because the idea that such a diet exists is a myth.
Instead, Dynamic Eating Psychology provides a system that helps you recognize and adapt to your own needs. What’s right for you may not be right for me. And what’s right for me today may be wrong for me in five years.
When we’re not conscious of the ways in which eating psychology impacts what we put into our bodies, we’re not able to change it. When we don’t see that we’re scarfing Doritos to cope with, say, relationship problems, we’ll go right on scarfing those Doritos, no matter what any nutritionist tells us to do. But when we know what’s going on, we can address the deeper needs and begin to build more balanced, nourishing lives and eating habits.
That said, Dynamic Eating Psychology doesn’t criticize “emotional eating” — which can actually be very useful. It’s simply about being aware that you’re doing it—and consciously choosing how you’re going to do it. Let’s say you’re on the fence about whether your relationship should be healed or let go and you’re not ready to take action. It’s okay to keep eating the Doritos for now. But having an awareness of why you’re doing so and mindfully slowing down to really enjoy each chip will make you more likely to eat a small handful, instead of half a bag. And, once you’ve faced the deeper challenges, you can transition away from the Doritos and perhaps find more healthful alternatives that will serve you better moving forward.
Dynamic Eating Psychology explores the ways in which our lives impact our eating habits every day, and helps us use food as tool that empowers us to make meaningful, positive changes in any aspect of our lives.
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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