Are snacks something you eat to refuel between meals or something you do when you watch TV or are bored? Are sweets a reward for hard work or do you look for other ways to feel good?

We develop our relationship with food at a very young age, and unfortunately, we might carry childhood patterns with us into adulthood. Oftentimes, we end up in a viscous cycle of overeating followed by episodes of food restriction.

Do You Use Food as a Reward?

As a dietitian who specializes in cravings and emotional eating, I see firsthand how this plays out in adulthood. Many of the people I work with see food as a reward for their hard work and stressful lives.

When the day is finally done, they find themselves unwinding with a glass of wine – or two – or firmly planted in front of the TV with their carbohydrate drug of choice. The next morning, they hop back on the diet wagon and vow to be ‘better.’

What Messages About Food Did You Learn as a Child?

Take a moment and reflect upon the role of food in your family of origin – especially ‘treats.’ Do you remember getting candies if you learned how to use the potty? Or maybe you got a treat if you behaved yourself at the store, or you got dessert if you ate all your dinner.

While seemingly innocent, being rewarded with food as a child creates pathways in your brain that literally hardwire you to repeat that behavior as an adult.

On the flip side, if food was scarce or restricted, you may have found yourself sneaking ways to get treats. Perhaps your mom was always on a diet and she imposed that mentality onto you, or maybe only the adults in the house got treats and the kids didn’t get any.

As an adult, you may have vowed to yourself that you would never be deprived of treats again. As a result, you find yourself seeking them – especially when you’re feeling stressed.

Breaking the Seduction of Sugar

Being aware of our relationship with food is a great first step. The next time you’re faced with a sugar craving, try this:

  • Take a few deep breaths in and out.
  • Reflect upon how you are feeling. Are you stressed? Tired? Lonely?
  • If so, is there something else you can do to take care of yourself in this moment?

If you still find yourself struggling with carbs, please know that you’re not alone! Carbs can have very addictive effect on our brain chemistry because the sugar raises our serotonin and dopamine levels.

If you want to learn more, I invite you to watch my video that explains how carbs can hijack your brain. I also offer a complimentary session with me to help you learn how to create a more peaceful relationship with food.

Do you recognize childhood eating habits that you have carried into adulthood? Do you find yourself struggling with carbs? What methods have you tried and has any of them worked for you? Please share your insightful tips below.

Karen DonaldsonKaren Donaldson is a cravings and emotional eating expert whose heartfelt mission is to help women create a peaceful relationship with food and with their lives. She is a registered dietitian, speaker, author, radio show host and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Certified Weight Loss Coach.

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