How to conquer a love-hate relationship with food

Here is an article that I wrote for the Wooster Voice, my school's newspaper.  I think its a topic most college students can relate to :) Enjoy..
Have you ever found that you have a love- hate relationship with food?  You love sneaking that extra spoonful of rocky road ice cream at your friend’s party, but you hate what it does to your thighs.    You love taking a study break to fuel up on potato chips, but you hate the way it makes you break out the next morning.  You love the instant emotional boost you get after the first bite of a snickers bar, but you hate the guilty feeling you get after the 10th bite.
Unlike drugs and alcohol, eating food is a natural instinct.  We cannot survive without food.  According to Susan Albers (2006), author of Mindfull Eating 101: A guide to Mindful-Eating In College and Beyond, eating can become destructive when we get caught in a “mindless eating cycle.”
As college students, the pressures we face in school, relationships, and living on our own contribute to the mindless eating epidemic.  In the article , “The Psychological risk factors of eating disorder,” scholars report that mindless eating is a combination of many “physical, biological, and social factors” (Jacobi 2005).   While, there are many different factors that create mindless eating patterns, Alberts (2006) explains that the two most prevalent causes for lack of mindful eating are lack of sleep and too much stress.  When we’re tired and stressed we are more likely to go for snack food as a quick pick me up or mood booster. Fatigue and increased cortisone levels can also inhibit our ability to recognize our hunger cues.  
With the all- you- can eat buffet style of the college cafeteria and the late night pizza and ramen parties, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mindless eating. However, not all hope is lost. Here are steps you can take to increase your ability to eat more mindfully.

1) Breathe- Before you reach for those tortilla chips take three deep breaths and then ask yourself if you’re really hungry. By taking time to focus on your body you will become more conscious of your bodies hunger cues and more likely to resist the urge to eat impulsively.  An increase of awareness will allow you to deal with difficult emotions in a constructive way and allow you to pursue healthier, non- food related alternatives.

2) Eat smaller meals- Eat 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the day. According to Womens Health having more frequent, small meals can speed up the metabolism. Additionally, consistent, moderate eating can keep blood sugar levels from getting too low, which may lead to an increase in cravings for unhealthy snacks.

3) Avoid multi-tasking- Implement a sitting down rule when it comes to eating. If you really want a snack give yourself permission to take a break so that you can be present about what you are eating.  This way you won’t feel guilty when you go through an entire box of cookies in ten minutes, while you’re chipping away at that English essay.
4) Keep yourself hydrated- Did you know that our bodies can confuse hunger with thirst? Before eating a snack make sure to drink water. If you’re still hungry afterwards you’ll know you actually need food.
It is possible to have a healthy relationship with food if you are eating with awareness and listening to your body’s hunger cues. So be healthy, present, and smart about your snacking habits and you'll be sure to see some positive results.