• Tara Curran

Mindful, Emotional, Eating

photo by Jillian Guyette for Skin Food Talk

I grew up in a small town in upstate NY in a traditional American family. I was fortunate enough to move to NYC and attend college at the Fashion Institute of Technology post-high school and can remember fondly my naive, wide-eyed, fearless attitude and overwhelming excitement for finally getting to live in a big city. I traveled a lot as a kid and always knew I wanted to live and work in NY. Now looking back at this time, I understand that pursuing my dreams of big city living would also come with multiple lessons and tests to push me into becoming a more awakened, grounded soul.

While working in the fashion industry, studying at FIT and making new best friends, I had a slew of traumatic events occur. The death of a boyfriend, parents being diagnosed with an illness, and a brother dealing with addiction. I was ill-equipped to handle the emotional turmoil I was feeling. Living in NYC during this time it was easy to "numb out" with working multiple jobs, school and excessive partying. I was stricken with anxiety, frequent panic attacks, weight gain, and stress. I was definitely at my worst and everything was affected, from friendships, to work and worst of all my health.

It wasn’t until I decided to travel, to get away on my own that I started to make some changes. It started with food and becoming more “mindful” with what I was eating. I only recently grew to understand what was in the long run happening with the small changes being made. I started to cook for myself, lots of vegetables, and stopped eating meat (a choice I felt worked for me). After my travels abroad I tried to keep a similar routine at home with making my own food and trying my first cleanses.

My anxiety slowly started to lessen and I hadn’t had a panic attack in months. This is what ultimately led me to go back to school for nutrition. Ever since I started changing up my eating habits, essentially becoming more mindful, I realized how food is so emotional. We use it as a coping mechanism, a way of celebration, and/or comfort. We have forgotten how food is information, and fuel for supporting us. How food is the key to well being, and coping with day-to-day stress and so powerful in reducing illness.

Looking at food as information and improving your well being is easier said than done. And I for one totally get that. When we eat exactly what our body needs and craves, the body responds in positive ways. Nutrients can help with our natural response to stress when we eat real whole foods such as fruits and vegetables. For me, changing my diet happened in steps and the more I paid attention to what I was eating the better I felt. 

What if you really started to look at what you eat and why? Is it to numb or ignore a feeling, or is it really to fuel your body. Try keeping a food journal for at least 2 weeks, writing down exactly what you had to eat each day and how you felt before and after. Then try to implement more mindfulness around your food or even just one meal a day and see how you feel.  

Tara Curran for Skin Food Talk

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