Do you let your emotions influence what you eat? Be honest. It is Valentines Day – are you eating to get your emotional needs? Or, are you meeting your emotional needs in ways that are truly loving, healing and healthy. Have you ever noticed that you are wanting something…like something is missing? Several years ago I wrote Filling Your Basket. The only way to fill your basket is to fill it yourself. There is no food or drink that can ever meet your emotional needs. Food nourishes your body. Love nourishes your heart and soul.

Certain foods, particularly high-fat, high-sugar foods, have a hedonic, calming effect. Emotional eaters (compared to non-emotional eaters) are more likely to indulge in these types of foods when experiencing negative emotional states. Because these foods make them feel better temporarily, it is easy for them to develop the habit of seeking such foods to improve their moods. Over time, as neural pathways link the change in mood with the experience of eating the food, the association grows stronger.

Sometimes we use food to stimulate the deepest parts of the brain when what we really need is friendship and love. And if the part of the brain that keeps us interacting with others—talking, flirting, dating, or just being together—can be satisfied with a bowl of chocolate ice cream instead, we can find ourselves becoming more and more alone.

If foods can work on the very parts of our brain that are designed for warmth, friendship, and love, no wonder loneliness leads to overeating, drinking, or drug use. And once addictions start, they develop a life of their own.

Cheese: The attraction in cheese is not about the taste or smell. (No one has ever marketed a cheese-scented perfume or air freshener.) Its real lure is in the dozens of hidden opiates whose effects have been surprising scientists in recent years. The smell and taste are secondary.

In 1981, Eli Hazum and his colleagues at Wellcome Research Laboratories analyzed cow’s milk and discovered traces of morphine. In fact, morphine is found in both cow’s milk and human milk.

Morphine is an opiate and highly addictive. Cows actually produce morphine within their liver and it ends up in the milk. Cows also produce casein (a phosphoprotein) that breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates (called casomorphins). A cup of cow’s milk contains about six grams of casein. Skim milk contains a bit more, and casein is concentrated in the production of cheese.

Cheese contains far more casein than is found in milk from either cows or humans, and it holds other drug-like compounds as well. (It contains an amphetamine-like chemical PEA, phenylethylamine.) No wonder, annual cheese consumption in the U.S. doubled from fifteen pounds per person in 1975 to thirty pounds in 2008.

And no, we don’t need cheese or any other dairy product to build strong bones. In fact, studies from the Dairy Council to Harvard have shown that people who got most of their calcium from dairy products actually had double the hip fractures. The fact is, there is plenty of calcium in green vegetables, beans, and many other foods. Weight-baring exercise is the number one way to increase bone density.

Meat: Meat causes a distinct insulin spike—sometimes greater than foods like pasta.

It doesn’t work to expect people or things outside ourselves to make us happy, to make us feel loved, to meet our needs. We are just increasing our wanting and our sense of lack. Abundance starts within us, with our baskets full and overflowing. A healthy relationship exists in our overflow, not in our neediness. It’s in our abundance, our mutual giving, where we love unconditionally, where we can love and not worry if we’re loved back. Abundance starts when we accept divine forgiveness by forgiving ourselves. When we are forgivable, we can love ourselves, have affirming mental self-talk and give gentle care to our bodies and environment.

If we want physical riches, we must see ourselves as abundant. If we want tranquility, we must be at peace in our minds. If we want love, we must be loving. And if we want forgiveness, we must be forgiving. Nourish your heart and soul with love.

Read Filling Your Basket

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