Sunday, 1 November 2015

What is emotional eating?

Most of you will smile when you see the topic of this article. “Emotional eating”. It’s something almost all humans do. Some of us eat even when not hungry, when we are happy, some do it when they are sad, a lot of us do it when we are angry, depressed, hurt, bored or nervous.
Emotional eating, simply put, is eating when we are not hungry, to satisfy or fill a void. There are psychology books available in the market to address these problems, counseling and coaching sessions available to help people combat emotional eating. The issue is that large.
Yes, it is a serious problem, because it is emotional eating that leads to weight gain, obesity and a whole load of medical complications. And to make it worse, when you eat out of emotion, your choices of food are surely not going to be fruits and salads, but junk food, food rich in sugar which produce happy feelings, which raise your blood sugar levels quickly, giving you an energy rush. For emotional eaters, food is the best friend to boost spirits, calm stress and alleviate boredom.
But according to the August issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, emotional eating often leads to eating too much, especially high-calorie, sweet, salty and fatty foods. Women are especially prone to emotional eating -- and then feel guiltier and less healthy than men do after snacking on "forbidden" foods.
The connection between stress and eating likely has roots in brain chemistry. Faced with a real threat, the fight-or-flight reaction kicks in and suppresses appetite temporarily. But when faced with persistent stress -- health problems, difficult relationships or too much work -- many people turn to high-fat, high-calorie foods for comfort. Using food as a coping strategy doesn't alleviate stress and will likely cause weight gain.
Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers these suggestions to understand and overcome emotional eating:
Learn to recognize true hunger: A craving for chips or cookies soon after a meal is more likely to be emotional hunger, not real hunger.
Identify the food triggers: Keeping a journal can help identify patterns in emotional eating, including emotions and feelings when eating; what and how much was eaten; and feelings after eating.
Look elsewhere for comfort: Instead of grabbing a candy bar, take a walk, call a friend, listen to music, read or treat yourself to a movie.
Manage stress in a healthy way: The goal is to lower stress with healthy strategies, including regular exercise, adequate rest and support from friends and family.
Practice mindful eating: Mindfulness is a way of paying focused attention without judgment. Applied to eating, this technique can help increase awareness of the sensations, feelings and thoughts connected with food and eating.
Toss out the unhealthy foods: Avoid stocking the cupboard or refrigerator with high-calorie comfort foods. Consider more healthful comfort foods: a bowl of tomato soup or a cup of tea.
Eat a balanced diet and healthy snacks: Between meals, opt for low-fat, low- calorie snacks such as fresh fruit and unbuttered popcorn.
(Source: Mayo Clinic)
Emotional eating also stems back to the way we were brought up and the way we understood the purpose of food.

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