Does Food Really Make You Happy?

By Paul and Carolyn Fetters
We are all trained at a very early age about the connectionbetween food and comfort. The “Food is Love” conceptis continually reinforced throughout our lives: We areoffered candy for a scraped knee, we celebrate birthdays with
cake, holidays with cookies and visiting home or a social eventalways seem to be associated with baked goods of some sort.

Food is also prevalent at so many of our favorite activities, likewatching a movie or a baseball game. We rely on meals for theirsocial aspect, such as spending time with family and friends. Bythe time we are adults, we learn that food makes us feel better. Soif we don’t like how we are feeling, we eat.

“Food is the No. 1 mood-altering substance used in theUnited States,” says Marilyn Migliore, R.D. and author of TheHunger Within. “That’s because in the moment, food gives yousomething pleasurable to focus on instead of the problems thatyou are facing in your daily life.”

Feeling lonely or bored? Eating gives you something to do.Stressed or angry? Eat and you’ll surely relax! Feel happy?Celebrate with dessert!

Although we know that exercise relieves stress and anxiety,eating is easier and provides instant gratification. Emotional eatingis defined by using food to avoid feelings of sadness, stress,anxiety, loneliness, anger, body dissatisfaction, etc. Unfortunately,it’s not broccoli that you crave when you’re feeling and emotional
need, it’s fat and sugar.

Emotional eating can keep you from reaching your weightgoals and leave you feeling like a failure. An emotional eater mayeven turn to destructive behavior, such as fasting or purging(anorexia and bulemia) to try to offset the extra calories.

The way to break the cycle is to start by learning when you’reeating for hunger or when you are eating based on emotions. Youcan remove a lot of the guesswork by planning ahead. Schedulethree regular meals a day with a snack late morning and midafternoon.Don’t eat in between those times, not even a grape!

When you take care of your body by building a structure ofnourishing food into your day, you’re less likely to succumb to anemotional eating episode. Keeping a food journal is another wayto accept more accountability for what you eat. You can note thefoods that you turn to and try to come up with alternate choices to help you with control. Look for a pattern when you seem tosabotage your diet goals so you can attempt to correct it.

Exercises is always important because when you are puttingeffort taking care of yourself, you are less likely to undermine yourefforts by eating poorly. Taking care of yourself physically by stayingactive and making good choices at mealtime will help youstave off the emotional food rollercoaster.

Despite these steps, we all still overdo it from time to time.But rather than beat yourself up afterwards, just resolve to do betternext time. As briefly mentioned above, exercise plays an importantrole in helping you stay on track when you are attempting totake on a healthier lifestyle through proper nutrition. When you areinvolved in a regular exercise program, such as meeting regularlywith a personal trainer, you are more likely to stay on track with betterfood choices. It’s easier to avoid that chocolate chip cookie ifyou just pushed yourself through three sets of lunges!

As we mentioned in the last article, and the motto that weshare with our clients on a daily basis “Health = Happiness.”If we were to break that motto down one step further, wewould tell you that health = lifestyle. In order to have total health,
you have to take it on as a lifestyle and incorporate into how youthink, how you eat, how you exercise and how you feel aboutyourself. Health never tasted so good.

Paul and Carolyn Fetters own two Training Spot Gyms and AMS Nutrition centers, both located in Huntington Beach. The Training Spot 16942 Gothard St. and The Training Spot 440 Main St. Paul is certified through the State of CA to speak in Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness. He regularly speaks to several Police and City Agencies throughout OC. For more info, please call (714) 841-9294 or (714) 374-7448 or visit

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