The Psychology of Eating
So often when we think about being “health” in the context of the foods we eat we consider the nutrients, calories and other nutrition-related information. One important area of health that is often overlooked is the Psychology of eating. While many people know what types of foods they should be eating to fuel the body and the mind, most people are unaware of why they eat the way they do. I recently had the opportunity to speak with author and expert on the psychology of eating, Karen R. Koenig LCSW, M. ED. While many people consider Dietitians the experts on the “what” of eating, Karen considers herself an expert on the “how and why” of eating. Karen has written several books about the psychology of eating and also works directly with clients to help change their relationships with food, eating and themselves.
Karen supports the idea of listening to ones internal cues in order to decide when and what to eat. Examples of this would be eating when you feel hungry, stopping when you feel full and being mindful of the foods your body is craving in order to gain satisfaction while supporting your health. For many people, being “healthy” involves eating “good” foods and avoiding “bad” foods, obsessing over the scale and carefully monitoring calories consumed. While it is wonderful to be in control of your health, these behaviors can often come along with feelings of guilt, shame and can cultivate and un-healthy relationship with food. Before I read Karen’s book, The Rules of Normal Eating I felt like my obsession with food and being “healthy” ruled my life. Learning how to listen to and trust my body helped me to build a healthy and happy relationship not only with food, but with my body as well.
I asked Karen what her advice would be for the college population and she said, “To really develop critical thinking skills. Analyze information and the world in an evidenced-based way so you can think for yourself. Analyze an advertisement, a diet’s long-term affect on your eating, or a friend’s advice and have enough trust in yourself to know it’s okay to be different.” To learn more about Karen and her approach to building a healthy relationship with food, click here. No matter what you do, remember that mental health is an important piece of the wellness puzzle!