Sometimes we think that food will make us happy. When we’re stressed or sad, we often reach for chocolate, or the chips, or some other edible delight. But in the end, it’s nothing more than a lie. After we’ve polished the plate, we’re left feeling disgustingly full and even more stressed and/or sad.
The problem here isn’t the food. It’s what we believe about it, what we think we can get out of it. Because at the end of the day, what we all want is happiness. But what does that even mean? Contrary to how it may feel in the moment, that chocolate will not make you happy, especially when your stomach is already bursting. So what does it mean to eat to be happy?
The Eat-To-Be-Happy Equation: A lasting sense of freedom + contentment + excitement = happiness
Let’s break this down:
1) Freedom – The great news is that you are not enslaved to your plate. You are the master of your food. This means that when you’re hungry, you get to eat eat, and when you’re not hungry, you get to stop eating, or not start in the first place. Being free means being able to walk away from the table, even though the food looks good and you know you could eat more. When you do this, it creates an incredibly triumphant feeling, and it’s addictive. Being free feels good. And you deserve to feel that good all the time.
2) Contentment – This is when you feel fully nourished and taken care of. Being healthy doesn’t mean depriving or starving yourself. When you put good food in, good feelings come out, and your body will thank you for it. Stopping before you’re fully fully will leave you fully content, which is a much happier feeling. Because who really wants to be sprawled out on the couch after dinner, unable to move? Wouldn’t you rather feel light and happy and alive? Eating to 80% full, rather than stuffed, will bring you 100% satisfaction in a whole new way.
3) Excitement – When you’re free and content, you’re also able to experience excitement for the future. You’re not drowned in your guilt (from the chocolate and all its equally alluring cousins). You’re able to move forward from the table, to the next exciting thing in life, be it an event, a project, a friend. Food is the fuel, not the focus. There is so much more to you as a person than what you eat, and when you embrace the excitement outside of food, your life becomes fuller. And so do you.
When you get into the rhythm of eating to be happy rather than eating for emotional reasons, your body will start singing along. It will move better, feel better, look better and yes, that includes losing weight. But it’s not about the weight, neither is it about being perfect or perfectly skinny. It’s about being free in your own body and mind. Free to be around food without feeling the need to keep eating, even when you don’t need any more. Free to both enjoy food and be happy at the same time.
Eating to be happy is about taking the emphasis off of the food, and putting it on yourself and your happiness. Because in the end, that’s what really matters.