Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Who’d have thought that eating could be complex? I mean, how complex is 1. put food in mouth; 2. chew; 3. swallow; 4. repeat? But I think you might know where I’m heading with this. It’s the reasons we eat – especially those that don’t relate to hunger. Yep emotional eating, celebratory eating, keep-people-happy-eating just to name a few of these situations.

So here’s my simple take on this issue. Its not an indepth analysis of emotional eating – its causes, cures etc. Its how I’ve categorised my different modes of eating and assigned them a rating.

GREEN LIGHT EATING: Clean eating principles.

Lets start with the best and ideal form of eating. This is what comes naturally on most days when I’m making a decision to do what’s physically (and emotionally) best for me. When I am focussed on my short and long term goals and I’m committed to taking positive action, eating clean comes naturally. I make good choices because I want to, not because I feel I should. Aaaah I love a perfect world LOL.

AMBER LIGHT EATING: Celebratory eating, holiday eating, keep-people-happy-eating.

OK so most of the time I’m coasting along in my green light zone. All is good and I’m moving towards achieving my goals. Lo and behold there is a bump in the road and the light turns amber. We go on holidays and the eating is relaxed or we have an “occasion” and we indulge just a little – or maybe a lot or the feared invite to dinner at a friend’s or family’s place. Why feared? Well what if everything is deep-fried, or covered in creamy sauce and there isn’t a vegetable or salad within cooee? How do we handle that? This will depend on the situation but regardless it places me in that amber zone. Its like “beware, keep it in check and get back to green as soon as possible”. Sometimes I handle the amber zone well and sometimes it’s a guaranteed slide into …..

RED LIGHT EATING: Mindless eating, secret eating, binging

Oooh how I hate this zone for a whole range of reasons. Not just the physical effect of bloating, dry mouth, sugar hang-over, fluid retention and weight gain but the emotional effects are significant. The sense of loss of control, of feeling weak, silly, embarrassed if anybody found out … these are a bitter pill to swallow after swallowing a heap of junk already.

This year I’m working hard to significantly reduce my incidents of red light eating. I’m learning what triggers it and that’s a head start to learning how to avoid it. I’ve found my recent triggers to be: stress and/or pressure at work (when I’m really under the pump, comfort from food is very attractive to me); boredom with my regular food and feeling unsatisfied after my meals (yep all of a sudden I DESERVE that treat and once I’ve had it, well I’ve blown it all so I’ll just have more) and scale weight messing with my head (which is a separate post in itself). Sometimes an amber light eating episode will just morph into a red light one pretty much due to the “well I’ve blown it already so I might as well have everything junky I may ever want” mentality.

You would think that as an intelligent 40 something woman I would get this simple exercise right. But we all know that life is never that simple. So I’ll tackle the issue head on knowing that I have it in me to succeed.

:-) Magda


Frankie said...

OMG Magda you've really hit the nail on the head there. I've done my share of the red light eating in my time (hence the 85kg) but that Amber light is a bloody pain in the butt sometimes..esp the "keeping people happy" eating.

One thing after another...and I thought Christmas was over?

Magda said...

Frankie I think the amber can be really tough to handle at times. Slowly we should develop strategies for managing it and then not be afraid to put them into practice.

Take care