All natural 2 October, 2018 Maria Clara Restrepo E.
Pay attention to what you eat to identify when you use food as emotional relief.
Medical Advisor Jaime Adams Dueñas – Psychiatrist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
We live in busy and stressful times and one of the manifestations of this chaotic way of life is how we eat. People do not just eat “on the go,” they also eat anything that fills them up, satisfying the natural desire to get our basic needs met.
This, in itself, is a health problem. Eating foods to deal with what makes us stressed, sad or worried significantly raises the chances of acquiring physical ailments with serious consequences such as obesity or the decompensation of the body. This is a situation that experts call emotional eating.
This habit consists of consuming foods when there isn’t necessarily a physiological need for it. It’s eating when you have emotional hunger instead of physical hunger as a way to get relief from critical situations with our feelings. But feeding our emotional hunger does not solve our problems; they remain in the body, which suffers the consequences with an additional few, or many, pounds.
These situations normally lead people to consume high-calorie foods with low nutritional values. When this becomes a daily habit, this can develop into serious physical conditions.
Jaime Adams Dueñas, psychiatrist and expert in eating disorders, affirms that “People must take control of their eating habits, prioritizing nutrition over cravings or compensating for a difficult situation.”
Be aware of the warning signs
Getting up from your bed or couch out of habit just to go to the kitchen to look for something to snack on is a clear symptom of emotional eating. With this behavior, whether related to stress, anxiety, sadness or depression, people are trying to process their feelings through food. It is eating to forget your worries.
It’s not bad to occasionally give in to a craving to feel better, but when this becomes a habit, people do not realize it, it becomes a normal activity and they only realize the problem once their body sends them warning signs: abnormal changes in weight, difficulties digesting, etc.
Another sign of this disorder is when someone refrains from eating as a result of their emotions or feelings. “This is an extreme behavior that deserves attention,” Adams states.
When warning signs first appear, it is important for people to inform the person and if this behavior cannot be controlled, a specialist should be seen to begin appropriate treatment. Most commonly, doctors will refer the patient to cognitive or behavioral therapy or treatment to improve self-control. The idea is for the person to learn what is good and what is not good for the body, and to set limits between what they want and what they should eat in a controlled and conscious way.
Another way of fighting this condition through medicine is through a technique called mindfulness. This technique consists of eating consciously; with the idea that you eat to nourish the body. It’s not a diet, it’s a way of putting your mind and emotions to work so that you can develop the ability to pay attention to what you eat. This is about establishing the right balance to optimize how the body functions.
“Mindfulness consists of eating the right amount, with self-control and awareness about what you are eating; understanding what is good and what is bad for the body. It is a more rational and less automatic process,” the expert points out. (It may be of your interest: 6 tips for healthy eating).
Eating well is about reducing the urge to eat sugar and junk food, and replacing it with a good serving of consciousness and responsibility. It’s not about eating to fill a void, it’s about eating to nourish the body.
Tips to fight emotional eating
Experts suggest following a few practices that can help in the struggle to beat this disorder. They include:
- Eating in a peaceful space without distractions like
- TV or music
- Chewing your food slowly
- Strengthen your willpower to avoid cravings
- Drink a glass of water if you feel hungry 3 hours after your last meal
- Do moderate physical activity to put off
- your desire to eat
- Eat three meals a day
- (breakfast, lunch and dinner), following the same schedule