Emotions have an incredible power to influence our food choices – usually in the opposite direction of healthy eating. If you’re an emotionally driven eater, you might use comfort food to soothe stress. Stress may prompt you to eat much more or much less than you usually do. Stress in any form results in emotional eating – for both men and women. Most of us tend to face the problem of emotional eating. The desire to eat is a very difficult desire to control.
When we eat to satisfy our cravings or as a way to manage stress, it is termed as emotional eating, the unreasonable and excessive consumption of energy-dense foodstuffs aka junk food in the absence of hunger and usually without any planning. It occurs when we allow our emotions to control our behavior.
Emotional eating or binging is one of the three major eating disorders, the other two being anorexia and bulimia. People suffering from binge eating disorders are driven to eat large volumes of non-nutritional & high-calorie foodstuffs in a short period of time. It often results in multiple chronic and nutritional deficiency-related diseases. Binging on junk food leads to a vicious loop, where the body doesn’t really need nutrition. The hypothalamus in our brain doesn’t send food signals, but the person indulges himself just to feed his emotional centers, not his physiological ones. This upshot the autopilot eating pattern of mindless munching. Excess sugar and concentrated starches cause havoc in the hormones of metabolism and lead blood sugar levels to fluctuate.
Any stressful situation and/or uncomfortable feeling can cause this problem of mixing food with emotions.
You eat because you are upset about something without caring what you eat & how much of it you pile on your plate. The sole purpose of food is to make one feel good. The kind of relationship that we share with food can lead to emotional eating. Thus, one is liable to eat unhealthy foods.
Ways to overcome:
- Track record of emotional triggers
- Stop storing chips, sweets, chocolates in your house
- No late night binges
- Learn to express, vent-out and cope
- Know your delicious dangers
- Identify the false hunger
- Have more fluids at frequent intervals
- Get enough sleep
- Focus on healthy food viz. fruits and vegetables to satisfy your cravings
- Don’t skip meals
- Distract yourself from food cravings
- Chew your food
- Plan what, when and where you will eat
Emotional eating is a concept which marks a trend of overeating in reaction to the negative emotions. It is a critical health issue and shouldn’t be neglected.
If not addressed, it can spin out of control and lead to serious medical and psychological conditions viz. depression, anxiety and even from cardiovascular diseases & obesity. Corrective self-discipline in eating and doing yoga daily is the cheapest and most effective way to STOP emotional eating.
Article First published on www.oowomaniya.com which is a safe, non-judgmental space for women to talk about their experiences and share their health concerns & doubts with experts.