Emotional Eating: A mental health Concern
We all are emotional beings. Emotion is a feeling deriving from one’s
circumstances, situations, moods, and relationships with others. Our needs,
emotions & thoughts drive us to act in different ways. Not always are we aware
of our feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Some people deal with their emotions
in very healthy ways while others struggle to cope up with their emotions in
healthy ways and harm their bodies.
A more recent study suggests that there are at least 27 distinct emotions & all of which are highly interconnected. Some of our common emotions are love,
happiness, kindness, sadness, frustration, irritation, anger, boredom, fatigue, etc.
Researchers have found the relationship between food and mood. The
relationship between Mood & amp; food is complex. Studies have shown that
physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or
both. High cortisol levels, in combination with high insulin levels, may be
responsible for overeating.
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We eat food not just to satisfy our stomach but at times to feed our emotions.
Emotional eating is related to our mind & feelings and not to our stomach. We
feel happy & we eat to celebrate our happiness or to reward ourselves. Many of us eat to overcome our unpleasant feelings. Eating makes us feel better. Eating
acts as a coping mechanism. We feel angry, bored, upset, crazy and we are
driven to emotional eating. It is not that by eating our situation gets changed or
the pain gets over. It is just a temporary rescue or distraction of the mind from the
pain but the negative feelings that caused emotional eating to remain the same. We
need to address our feelings, the root cause of overeating or unhealthy eating.
We all experience two kinds of hunger, Physical hunger, and Emotional hunger. Physical hunger is to do with our stomach, adding fuel to our body whereas emotional hunger is more to do with our minds.
Emotional eating is the urge to eat even when you are full. Hunger in the
stomach is a slow process but the urge to eat is very urgent in Emotional Eating.
The studies also show that in emotional eating, the craving is for specific kinds
of food but when you are hungry from the stomach, one does not have the craving
for specific food.. In physical hunger, you know when you are full & you stop
eating but in Emotional eating, we eat till we feel uncomfortable. Eating is done
primarily to cope up with feelings of anxiety, sadness, boredom, loneliness,
nervousness, fatigue, etc. Emotional eating is basically mindless and powerless
Eating. The person feels that he has no control over his eating. His first impulse
Is to reach the food in the pantry or the refrigerator.
In emotional eating, we get trapped in the vicious cycle of eating. We are
stressed & we eat food to comfort ourselves, we feel better but then later
We feel guilty & regret our eating. This guilt again causes stress and again the
The cycle gets repeated.
Childhood habits also promote emotional eating in adulthood. When we
Are young, we are treated with Ice-cream & chocolates for our achievements
And good behavior. This conditioning in childhood leads to emotional
eating when we want to reward ourselves with food.
We divert our minds from the problem. Eating works as a coping mechanism To overcome negative feelings. We also eat to reward ourselves. Most of us are not even aware of Emotional hunger. To cope up with Emotional Eating, we have to address our negative emotions. We need to identify the triggers for our emotional eating. We need to introspect Our eating patterns. A healthier lifestyle, hobbies, meditation, yoga can help us To overcome our negative emotions instead of food to control them.
Article By: Meenu Bhargava
Director – Karan Consultants