Emotional Junk Food

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I like eating junk food. Chocolate and potatoes chips are my nemesis (especially chocolate-covered potato chips…hey, don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it! It’s a perfect combo of smooth sweetness with crunchy saltiness…I digress.)

And I’m sure I am not alone in knowing that junk food is not healthy for you. Especially if junk food is the main portion of what one eats. Burgers, fries, ice cream, cake, popcorn, cookies, candies, pop drinks, chocolate, and chips really shouldn’t be staple items in your diet; they should be a once-in-a-while thing. They aren’t healthy for you. We know this.

Some people even check the nutritional facts of all the food they eat, making sure that what they put into their body is going to support and fuel them, not erode and drain them.

You only get one body in this lifetime, so taking care of it is a very important task.

But the food you put into your body is only part of the equation. Yes, exercise and activity is important, too. But there is another factor that is often downplayed, overlooked, ignored. It has very real consequences on your health and longevity. 

That is: your emotions. 

Yale University researchers found that, “People who react to situations with strong emotions, particularly anger, are especially likely to die of cardiac arrest.”

The Journal of Neuroscience published the results of a study that showed direct evidence that prolonged stress response from negative emotions can accelerate the aging of brain cells in the same region of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease, leading to impairment of learning and memory.

Research conducted over a twenty-year period by London University’s Institute of Psychiatry found that people who bottled up their emotions under stress were likely to be more prone to cancer. Cigarette smoking or eating foods high in cholesterol by themselves had less effect in causing disease than did negative emotions.

(Read that last sentence again! Stated differently: negative emotions have a bigger impact on causing disease than cigarette smoking and eating high-cholesterol foods! Mind-blowing.)

You are always experiencing an emotion. Some emotions are “healthy” and some are not. Much like food, some is “healthy” and some is “junk”.

Imagine, for a moment, if you were constantly eating. Grazing, like a cow. You could be eating health food or junk food, but you were eating all the time. The state of your health and your sense of well-being depend on the kind of food you ingest. What kind of food would you  choose to graze on most of the time? Probably not junk food.

What emotions are “junk food”? Anger. Fear. Anxiety. Frustration. Worry. Depression. Apathy. “Negative” emotions are “junk food”. Prolonged experience of these emotions have deleterious effects on your health. These are emotions that create disharmony in your body and the way it functions. They cause the release of stress hormones that drain your energy and accelerate aging. They lead to brain cell death and decreased muscle mass. They decrease your ability to heal, to think clearly, to make wise decisions, to learn, to regulate your behaviour and socially engage with others.

Why spend so much time eating “emotional junk food” by living in a state of anger, fear, or other negative emotions? It’s not healthy.

If we, as a society, would put half the effort of checking nutritional labels, counting calories, and sticking to dieting programs into regulating our emotions, we would be significantly healthier as individuals and we’d be living more harmoniously as a society.

…And I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that, these days, we could do with more health and harmony!

Ask yourself, honestly, how much of my day am I spending in anger, fear, anxiety or other negative emotions? Am I ready to clean up my emotional diet? 

Are money and finances sources of your negative emotions? Start with “Freedom from Financial Stress”, an online mini course. Work at your own pace. Learn more, here.

Looking for general emotional diet clean-up? That begins with little, everyday choices. Start with The 42 Day Choice Challenge, here.

Want some one-on-one guidance for deeper “how-to”? Check out our coaching options, here.

Here’s to conquering stress.

With heart,

The Stress Experts

Practical Strategies to Deal With Daily Stressors

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