Are You an Emotional Eater?

Maybe you are and you don’t even know it.  That’s how I felt today while doing some grocery shopping.  Here’s the story.

I found myself doing some grocery shopping this morning and the first place I hit up was the snack aisle – OK, the “natural” snack aisle, but snack aisle nonetheless.  Normally I go right to the produce section, spend most of my time there and then move on.  Not this time.  I completely bypassed the produce section even though I walked right into it upon entering the store and went straight to the snack aisle.  After about 5 minutes of picking up packages, reading labels and filling the cart I asked myself, “What are you doing??  Why are you here and why are you doing this?”  

This is the answer I came up with.  It was a gloomy, rainy day here.  Strike one.  I can’t stand rain, especially cold rain.  On days like today I just want to curl up and sleep all day, but I have 2 small children, so that’s just never going to happen.  Strike 2 came when I realized that I was hungry because I did not eat a proper breakfast.  But big strike number 3 came when I remembered that for the next 5 days, while my husband is away on business, I’ll be alone.  Not really, alone, alone, but without him.  It may not be a big deal to some people, but it’s a big deal to me and I don’t like it.  So I was just reaching for easy stuff that I would normally not reach for.  In the end I took some time to think about my decisions right then and there, put most of the packages back on the shelves (I did buy a few – without the guilt) and turned around and headed to the product department. 

Today was the first day that I was mindful of how my emotions try to control my decisions when it comes to food.  I could have purchased all of the snack foods and eaten all of them before my husband gets back home, but how would that make me feel?  I would feel disappointed and guilty that I sabotaged myself.  

Next time you’re feeling gloomy and you find yourself in the grocery store, take some extra time to ask yourself a few questions before making your purchases.  Is this something I would normally purchase?  Why am I buying this product?  How is this product going to make me feel after I eat it?

The Great Pantry Clean-Out

Below are a few chemicals often found in packaged products on the supermarket shelves. All you have to do is get to your pantry or refrigerator and start looking at the labels. If you see a product that contains one (or more) of these chemicals in it, trash it.

#1 – High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

HFCS is a highly refined form of sugar. It’s cheap and addictive and that’s why it is added to pretty much everything on the shelves. I would LOVE to tell you to get rid of any kind of refined sugar totally, but right now, I won’t do that. (I’m still working on this myself and it is taking a really long time. That is how addictive sugar is).

#2 – Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Are you suffering from headache, flushing, sweating, facial tightness, heart palpitations, chest pains, shortness of breath, nausea, muscle weakness; and numbness, tingling or burning in the mouth, around the face and in the limbs? Check your labels!

It’s everywhere! There are so many other names for it, you may think that a product does not contain MSG, but it could be in there, just in another form. Here are a “few” names code names: Glutamic acid, Glutamate, Monopotassium glutamate, Calcium glutamate, Monoammonium glutamate, Magnesium glutamate, Natrium glutamate, Yeast extract, Yeast food, Autolyzed yeast, Whey protein, Whey protein concentrate, Whey protein isolate, Soy protein, Soy protein concentrat, Soy protein isolate, Soy sauce, Soy sauce extract and the list goes on and on.

#3 – tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

In the clean eating world the rule usually goes, “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.” Seriously?! Why would this be allowed in our food supply? You won’t see it on the label as such. You’ll see it as “TBHQ” and you’ll never question it because TBHQ is just so easy to pronounce. Well, start questioning!

“TBHQ is a synthetic antioxidant that is used to extend the shelf life of oily and fatty foods. In processed foods, it’s sprayed on the food or on its packaging to prevent discoloration and changes to flavor and odor. Others products, such as cosmetics, perfumes, varnishes and lacquers, contain TBHQ to maintain stability.” (

#4 – Sodium nitrate

This chemical is commonly found in processed meats, such as hot dogs, bacon and lunch meats.

Mayo Clinic says, “Sodium nitrate, a preservative that’s used in some processed meats, such as bacon, jerky and luncheon meats, could increase your heart disease risk.

It’s thought that sodium nitrate may damage your blood vessels, making your arteries more likely to harden and narrow, leading to heart disease. Nitrates may also affect the way your body uses sugar, making you more likely to develop diabetes.” (…/exp…/sodium-nitrate/faq-20057848)

#5 – Food Dyes

OK, I know this is going to be a rough one, especially for those of you with children so I understand if this one takes some time. Honestly, we’re still working on it in my household too. These dyes are everywhere – and not just in candy and cookies, sprinkles and brightly colored sweets. Check your white marshmallows. Do you see Blue dye in there? Check your vanilla ice cream. Yellow dye, maybe? Check your jar of pickles. Yellow dye, again.

“Artificial food dyes are linked to hyperactivity in children, asthma, allergies, and skin issues. They are banned in certain countries and require a warning label in Europe.” (Vani Hari, The Food Babe Way)

If you can cut back dramatically, that is a start – a baby step.

#6 – Artificial Sweeteners

We have a severe sugar problem in the world. I’d like to say in the United States, but our thinking and our piss poor food practices have infiltrated the world. Before I started my clean eating journey I was a Diet Coke addict, so I know how difficult breaking the habit can be. We are tricked into thinking that because it is “sugar-free” it is better than the alternative. Anything artificial is definitely not better than natural, but when it comes to refined sugar, both options pretty much poor.

NutraSweet, Sweet’N Low, Equal, Splenda – toss ’em. A better choice would be pure stevia leaf powder or liquid (in small amounts).

Again, this is going to be a rough one to let go off. These are addictive substances so withdrawal symptoms are common when you cease ingesting them.

#7 – perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)

This is a chemical that lines the bags of….MICROWAVE POPCORN. So this one is easy. Go to your pantry, grab your stash of microwave popcorn and toss it in the trash!

PFOA is the non-stick chemical also found in Teflon pots and pans and the EPA has classified it as a carcinogen. With no studies done on humans, the FDA allows this in our food. Lucky us!