For the past ten years, I’ve been passionately writing about mindful eating and enthusiastically teaching people about how to be more mindful eaters. Today, I’m taking fans of mindful eating on the next step of the journey. It is my pleasure to introduce you to the concept of EatQ.
EatQ is related to E.I. or emotional intelligence, a concept you may already be familiar with. EatQ may remind you a little of the term I.Q. (intelligence quotient) or E.I. (emotional intelligence). I.Q. tests your book smarts or things like how well you remember facts or your ability to do math problems. E.I. is like your “street smarts.” You may know people who don’t get a perfect score on their SAT but they are savvy, charming, and successful in their relationships with people. EatQ are people who are successful in their relationships with food.
What Does E.I. Look Like?
What does an "emotionally intelligent eater" look like on the surface level? I often think of how Giada De Laurentiis, chef from the Food Network, relates to food on TV (I don’t know her personally or how she eats at home). On her show, she takes one bite of an amazing dish, and makes it last. She savors each mouthful and intricately describes how it tastes—and then she stops. She makes taking a bite or two look easy. But we all know it’s very difficult! She is mindful of each bite and is able to eat just enough of it to enjoy without going overboard.
Under the surface, there is a lot happening that hinges on your internal awareness. Again, emotionally intelligent eating is not about having a vast knowledge of nutrition facts. Instead, it is being:
-Aware of hunger and fullness cues
-Tuned in to how and why you are eating
-Using awareness for impulse control around pleasurable food
-Noticing how social interactions impact how much you eat
-Able to make decisions even when emotional
-Aware of which emotions make the quality of your decisions plummet
-Can tone down or work through feelings without stress eating
-Have intrinsic motivation to eat better rather than tied to external rewards
Deciding what to eat can often be one of the most emotionally imbued decisions you make during the day. It starts with the question, “What do I feel like eating?” What you choose often hinges on your mood at the moment. Think about the quality of your choices when you are happy versus angry (many people crumble down to “I don’t care what I eat” when upset). The process of eating ends with an emotional response—satisfaction, joy, guilt, longing, etc.
What You Will Learn in EatQ
1) Why you can be smart, educated, successful, and know a lot about nutrition and STILL struggle with choosing healthy foods.
2) How to make healthy food decisions and avoid regretting your choices later.
3) Methods for enjoying the foods you crave without overeating them.
4) Tips for avoid stress eating (or stop it in its tracks!).
5) Ways to talk yourself through self-sabotaging thoughts and excuses so you can get back on track. The neurochemistry of why being able to talk about your feelings is key to eating healthier and losing weight.
History of Emotional Intelligence
Although ideas related to emotional intelligence date back before Darwin (who talked about the survival of the fittest), emotional intelligence didn’t gain a lot of recognition until two dynamic researchers entered the picture, Dr. Peter Salovey from Yale and Dr. John Meyer of the University of New Hampshire. These two men were instrumental in opening our eyes to the importance of being aware of our emotions and being able to use them in positive ways. They continue to write and do research on the topic.
In 1995, the bestselling book by Daniel Goleman entitled, Emotional Intelligence, made emotional intelligence a household word. Later, it entered into offices all across the country. Business leaders quickly recognized that being able to manage your emotions at the office is key to being successful. Emotional intelligence—stellar decision making skills, the ability to be calm, cool and collected under pressure, being able to communicate well with coworkers and the ability to be flexible--are helpful to have on the job.
Research indicates that we can teach people emotional intelligence skills in the office. It only makes sense that we move these skills over from the conference room to the kitchen (Peter & Brinberg, 2012). Whether at work or in your kitchen, you make a lot of decisions everyday (250 food decisions according to research by Dr. Brian Wansink). Stress impacts your ability to make healthy choices in both places.
There are a few different models of EI. However, there is a common thread that runs through them—self-awareness and self-regulation. Mindfulness has a hand in both of these concepts. In fact, there is an overlap between emotional intelligence and mindfulness (You can read more about this in the book, Search Inside Yourself).
This is just a brief introduction to the theory behind EatQ and what you will find in the book. I hope you enjoy EatQ. I can’t wait to continue telling you more about the concept. Most of all, I hope that EatQ and emotionally intelligent eating takes you one step further in your journey to eat healthier, stop overeating, lose/manage your weight and/or enjoy food again.
Keep in mind that the EatQ book is just the beginning. It’s the starter kit and your invitation to participate in future emails, articles and downloads. My hope—is that you savor EatQ cover to cover!
Dr. Susan Albers is a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and the author of six books on mindful eating including Eat.Q: Unlock the Weight Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence. She has been quoted in the New York Times, Self, O Magazine, Shape, Fitness and on the Dr. Oz show. www.eatq.com
Look for What Works for Leaders, Works for Eaters