The Right Way to Eat Your Feelings, According to a Nutritionist

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I’ve been on bit of a health-kick lately: In addition to weekly cardio sessions and exploring my phone’s built-in health app—which had previously been relegated to a folder within a folder on my fifth home screen—this means that I’ve changed my Twizzlers-and-champagne-for-dinner ways and committed to cooking for myself. Thanks to the internet’s surplus of fun, interesting, and nutritious recipes, it’s actually been kind of fun to explore new cuisines while improving my diet.

That being said, over the past few weeks, I’ve occasionally run into an unexpected, though, in retrospect, totally obvious, hitch: Sometimes, I just don’t feel like eating well. I know, I know: nobody constantly craves superfood smoothies. Our desire for fat and sugar is literally woven into our DNA. Most of the time, I can push through my reticence and even garner enthusiasm for the meal I’ve planned, but realistically, I have to admit that I’m not always totally gung-ho about prepping or eating a Buddha bowl. If I’m hungover, PMS-y, or simply feeling exhausted or sad, Postmates-ing a pizza seems more manageable (and satisfying) than slogging through an hour of cooking and a heap of dishes, only to end up with a plate of vegetables. I mean, there’s a reason they call our favorite guilty pleasures “comfort food.”

In an effort to satisfy my emotional cravings and be kind to myself without totally sabotaging my diet, I turned to NYC-based nutritionist Dana James. When it comes to how our feelings affect our food choices, James says, “It’s less about our mood but more to do with the chemistry behind the mood. When we're stressed and have elevated cortisol levels, we tend to gravitate toward more  sweet/fat food combinations (aka comfort food). When our adrenaline is supercharged we tend not to want to eat and feel nauseous instead!” James adds that it is possible to make meals that are both foolproof and filling, and most importantly, that make you feel good while you’re eating and hours later. Keep scrolling for James’s tips on the easiest, tastiest ways to eat well and satisfy your comfort cravings.

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