We have clearly identified the critical role of feeding times and sustenance eating. This represents the backbone of each day’s food consumption. However, as social animals, our use of food extends well beyond mere sustenance. Social and recreational eating represent a critical, even essential part of our lives.
Our goal should be to fully partake of the joy of social eating without suffering the consequences of damaging weight gain. Some of these ideas are described in the section on social eating. The section addresses circumstances like restaurants, parties and family gatherings.
Other forms of recreational eating include the spontaneous purchase of items at a child’s game. This is a merging of recreation and impulse. The sweet aroma of french fries can be alluring. Better to go to the game with pre planned recreational food that will be less damaging to your health.
A recreational night out for some adult beverages with friends can often present the unplanned moment of food intake. Appetizers and ” finger food” will often be a part of the evening. It’s best to prepare for the night out. Mentally rehearsing how you intend to respond to the offer of impulse food can better prepare you to be socially graceful while avoiding overeating.
Pre-feeding as we note in the section on social eating can blunt the hunger drive that might otherwise erode your better judgment.
Blaming your avoidance of recreational food on your doctor can be a nice way to eliminate the social pressure to partake of communal foods. Feel free to use me as your point of reference in this circumstance.
It is worth noting the episodes of purely recreational eating that take place over the course of your week. This will help you to quantify the amount of recreational eating in your life so you can adjust it based upon how your body is responding. Episodes of recreational eating often travel below our level of conscious recognition. It is interesting to me how often in taking a nutritional history patients need to be prompted before they can remember significant amounts of social and recreational eating events even though they may have just occurred days prior to our meeting. If these episodes escape our memory, they can be more damaging to our goals. Frustration can set in as we cannot comprehend why we haven’t lost more weight. Experiment with doing periodical logging of recreational eating at the end of each week. If need be, this can be a daily tally. If you find that your weight is going up or not coming down as hoped, focus on modifying the frequency of recreational intake.
Much like boredom eating, recreational eating does not respond very well to drug or nutraceutical therapy. This requires premeditated discipline, forethought, and the rehearsal of new habits. On the other hand, if recreational eating is motivated in part by low grade depression, nutraceutical or pharmacotherapy may be a worthwhile adjunct.
Our need and desire to be neurologically stimulated by food will increase commensurate with the degree of depressed mood we are experiencing. This can often be a subtle cue alerting us to leading edge of depression that is starting to creep into our minds. Often in the face of early depression the first symptom is physical rather than an overt awareness of psychological effect.
If you find yourself reaching for more recreational eating moments, do a mental health inventory with a focus on the possibility of mild depression.
My goal for you is to live your life more joyfully in the moment of celebration and recreational eating and to wake up feeling that same joy the next morning knowing that you have not done harm to the other goals you hold valuable; wellness, fitness, your best physique and longevity.
Dr. Stephen Petteruti is board-certified in medical weight loss and family practice. He runs a Functional Medicine Center and has been practicing Medical Weight Loss for over 15 years. For more information about his center and weight loss program, please visit: https://www.im-120.com/
Intellectual Medicine 120 is in Warwick, RI.
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