Do you find yourself eating junk even when you are not hungry? Do you find yourself eating a chocolate just because you want to change your mood? Do you find that you are eating abnormally even though you are aware of its consequences? If the answers are mostly yes, then read on – you could be an Emotional Eater.
An Emotional Eater is a person who finds solace in bingeing on food; a person who uses food as a medium to relieve stress rather than to satisfy hunger.
Causes of emotional eating
In today’s competitive world, everyone is leading a tough life. Everyone has to deal with several challenges in life – work, family, relationships, health, wealth, etc. These challenges and the fight for survival together lead to a lot of depression, anxiety, stress, and sadness, which in turn affects a person’s physical health. It is in these situations that people try to find comfort by eating junk food that is devoid of all nutrients. Knowingly or unknowingly, they are so stressed that it makes it very difficult for them to lose weight .
What exactly happens when you are encumbered in stress? The body tries to fight back! Our body has an amazing defense system, and thus, even to fight the stress, the body begins to secrete a hormone known as ‘cortisol,’ at elevated levels. This hormone is also referred to as the “stress hormone” with good reason. It is so called because it is secreted in higher levels during the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress. During situations such as “chronic stress,” the cortisol levels remain elevated for long periods of time. In such a situation, the body perceives a need for extra calories, thus resulting in binge eating, or over-eating.
So, what happens when we binge?
Now that you have eaten more than is required, what happens to the excess glucose that is being circulated in the bloodstream? The body cells and muscles that do not need the glucose just reject taking it in, thus causing an increase in insulin production. Over a period of time, due to the elevated cortisol, glucose, and insulin levels, the cells de-sensitize to insulin, causing insulin resistance, thus making way for pre-diabetic or diabetic conditions! Would you have ever thought that a little bit of food that you reach out to in order to comfort your self during stressed conditions could be so harmful?
Then how do you avoid stress and emotional eating? There has to be a way to break free of all the stress and lead a healthy life.
Below I have mentioned a few quick tips that could be helpful to get rid of emotional eating during stress.
- Get total control over your food
It is very important that you are aware of your eating patterns. It is important to figure out if you are eating because you are hungry or because you are emotionally charged, making you want to eat? It is best to pause and confront yourself before reaching out for a mithai or a pizza, and ask yourself, “Why am I eating this?” This will greatly help you control your tendency to binge on foods.
- Find the cause of stress and work towards eliminating it
Once you are aware that you are an emotional eater, it’s good to sit down and figure out what is it that is actually causing you to do it. Write down all the things that gives you stress – like a deadline you could not meet, or a conflict with your loved one. Now look for a way to overcome that particular stress rather than reaching out for food. Sometimes the solution could be as easy as a phone call, or requesting an extension of a deadline. You will find it easier to move out of the habit of emotional eating once you start recognizing the root cause of your stress and working towards the solutions.
- Indulge in diversions, or pick up a hobby that makes you happy
It is very important to find out something else that makes you feel good, and relieves you from all stress, rather than resorting to eating. It could be a good workout, a painting session, a pottery class, swimming, soaking in a jacuzzi or a steam bath, a spa or a massage session, boxing game or maybe just cricket – there are a million ways to keep yourself occupied and also form healthy habits. This will not only uplift your mood and relieve the stress, but also will help you put a full stop to the saga of emotional eating.
- Eat clean and avoid alcohol
It is often said that people reach out to alcohol as a medium of dealing l with stress. But logically speaking, neither is alcohol a solution to your stress, nor is it good for your body. The damage caused to the liver due to alcohol will have even worse repercussions. However, you could relax yourself with some good chamomile tea or any aromatic tea as they are known for their stress busting properties.
Lastly, having a sense of gratitude for what we have received in life, and the feeling of contentment for everything, no matter how small or big, will help in the longer run to shoo away worries and help lead a calm life.
Author Credits – Trina Roy