Why do we eat unhealthy or less nutritious foods? We know what is nourishing. Why do we have trouble choosing those foods sometimes? There are many reasons, but one we don’t hear much about is neurological.
When we eat, it tells our nervous system to change modes. Our lives get busy and stressful. Eating becomes a cue to our nervous system that it is time to move away from stress mode into rest and digest mode. The problem happens when we regularly use food to flip that switch, instead of eating for reasons that have more purpose, like celebration or nourishment.
Using food to change modes does not often support our best health. When we get into a pattern of eating based on our stress levels, we are using food neurologically. We are tricking ourselves into feeling slightly less stressed, but we are not eating in a way that provides true nourishment.
There are other ways to change from stress to rest mode. One of the easiest ways is through our breath. When we use our breath to cue the shift in our nervous system, we create space for better nourishment. If we have already switched away from stress mode before we start eating, our bodies absorb more of our nutrients.
One reason we make less nutritious food choices is because we are not eating for nourishment at that moment. We may be using food to shift our nervous system away from stress mode. When we learn different ways to make that switch, we free up energy for more joyful food experiences.