Weatherford Democrat

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December 29, 2013

EXTENSION NEWS: Enjoy comfort foods with fewer calories

BY KATHY SMITH

Cold weather, holiday gathering, stress and any other occasions we eat and we may not be hungry. Although nutrients are required to sustain us, it is common for us to rely on food when we are upset, angry and lonely, or with others.

Whether you prefer sweet or salty food, it is possible to enjoy your favorite foods while still maintaining a balanced diet.

Emotional eating is a result of both physiological and psychological drives. Certain foods can seem to temporarily improve your mood and make you feel better. By attaching feelings to food, it becomes easy to rely on that food such as chocolate when you need an emotional lift. Comfort food preferences also vary with age and gender. Women tend to prefer snack foods while men tend to prefer meals.

To curb emotional eating, avoid using food as a reward or punishment. This might include giving a child candy for good behavior or threatening to serve broccoli if their room is messy. Such associations with food can have long-term and sometimes irreversible relationships with food.

Provide non-food rewards for yourself and your children. If you hit your goal weigh or have been recognized for an achievement, reward your accomplishment with a mini vacation, a new tool or clothing. Any of these will be much more memorable than a piece of candy.

When a craving arises, take a 30-minute break, away from all temptations. Go for a walk, stretch or do yoga in the meantime. If you consider yourself an impulsive eater, chances are you will be less interested in satisfying your craving was when the time is up.

Food in many cultures shows love and appreciation. It is unrealistic and unhealthy to dissociate yourself from food completely.  However, it is essential to keep special occasion foods limited to occasions that are actually special.

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