Do you ever find yourself looking for your favorite tub of ice cream in the kitchen fridge to have a bite from it, but you end up eating it all? Or, have you opened that bag of chips only to end up finishing every bit of it? On your low days, you’ll notice that those food cravings are a way of providing you with that feeling of ease and comfort. This type of eating style is generally referred to as “emotional eating”. While it might give you some satisfaction in that moment, it can be disastrous for you in the long run.
Health shots got in touch with Dr Sahir Jamati, consultant psychologist and psychotherapist at Masina Hospital in Mumbai to understand how emotional eating can have grave repercussions on health and how emotions can be learned to cope with it.
In the process of emotional eating, negative emotions that are difficult to deal with, such as sadness, anxiety, fear, stress, anger, loneliness, etc. are suppressed by consuming food, says Dr Jamati. This can be triggered by major changes or stressful events in a person’s life. The cause of this is deeply rooted in our body’s biology. Our body starts to produce a hormone called cortisol in a situation that makes us feel alarmed or upset. This hormone tends to make us crave sugary, fatty, or salty foods.
Constantly resorting to food as a source of emotional support can lead to various health-related issues. It can increase the risk of serious illnesses in the body like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, fatigue, etc. Indulging in emotional eating often results in the individual experiencing guilt. The feeling of guilt is often accompanied by a range of negative emotions like the feeling of helplessness, low self-esteem, irritability, frustration, etc. This process becomes an endless loop where emotional eating becomes a primary coping mechanism for the individual.
A healthier way to cope with emotional distress is by keeping a check on your emotions. The expert lists down some of the ways in which one can feel more emotionally resilient and positive.
“Resorting to physical activities may help in the release of positive hormones like endorphin which is known to reduce feelings of stress or anxiety,” asserts Dr Jamati. Any form of daily physical workout gives a vent to your emotions and helps do away with any emotional build-up.
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The expert reckons that mindful eating can help the individual focus on internal cues for hunger. Emotional hunger can also be curbed by scheduling your meals.
Making it a conscious choice to be aware of what you feed your body can help cope with mindless eating.
A lot of emotional upheaval and hunger can be dealt with by indulging in positive self-talk and showing compassion toward yourself. Choose your thoughts and words consciously. Making it a conscious choice to feed your mind with good, happy thoughts will take you a long way.
The expert reckons, “Seeking support instead of isolating yourself can help with your healing journey and deal with stressful situations.” It’s important that you voice your emotions and get in touch with a mental health expert to learn ways that will help you handle your emotions.
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