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21- May-2017

Are you an emotional eater?*

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Dt. RASHMI SETHI
Dt. RASHMI SETHI
(M.Sc. (FSN), CDE)

Emotional eating is a way to control, monitor and cope with negative feelings using food as a medium. Emotional eating is directly related to over eating or an unhealthy diet, often leading to an eating disorder causing unwanted weight gain and obesity. If you recognize an emotional eating habit in yourself or your close ones, do not worry. Minor life style changes and healthy eating can help you lose fat and overcome the emotional eating disorder.

Do you eat more when stressed? Do you eat even when you are not hungry or even if you are already full? Then you have experienced the emotional eating disorder. Emotional eating is an instinctive dietary way of responding to or handling emotional turmoil and stress using food as a medium. Emotional eating disorder is common in people of all ages and gender and even healthy people can experience its different forms. It can be caused by stress at work, feeling of loneliness or rejection or may be just a temporary bad mood. Conversely, some persons have unhealthy eating episodes due to over excitation as well. Using food to reward yourself or to celebrate is not a bad thing. However, when emotional responses overtake healthy eating and diet habits, they become a mode of coping with your emotions –stress, anger, loneliness, boredom or exhaustion— getting the person stuck into an unhealthy cycle. Foods that emotional eaters tend to prefer often include calorie dense comfort foods like ice cream, chocolates, chips, cheese etc. They are usually high carbohydrate, high calorie foods with very low or no nutritional value in dietary terms. Such foods may reflect low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that naturally elevates the mood. This also leads to the development of a cycle of overeating to relieve depression. Such an unhealthy eating pattern is harmful as it can interfere in healthy eating and diet, contributing to obesity that makes it much more difficult to lose fat.

If not addressed immediately, emotional eating can lead to health complications such as obesity, development of food addictions and difficulty to lose fat. In addition, frequent episodes of emotional eating can increase the risk of developing diet or eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Moreover, people with an existing eating disorder are more likely to indulge in emotional eating. Often, emotional eating starts early, without us even realizing it. We can detect and/or prevent it before this eating disorder gets worse is by remaining alert about emotional fluctuations in ourselves and our children, and as adults, we can seek help from people around us.

Here are a few ways to overcome emotional eating:

  1. Become aware, name that mood and replace it: Most emotional eating happens unconsciously without you being aware of it and can turn into an eating disorder. Maintain a diary and note down your mood each time you eat. Very quickly, you will observe how often you indulge in emotional eating, at what time of the day, or on which days of the week, and what foods you prefer during such times. This will help you to understand the emotional eating pattern, to better enable you to control your diet and to aid fat loss.Once you identify the pattern and foods you binge on during emotional eating episodes, you can make a list of alternate healthy eating options using low carb, low calorie foods to incorporate in your diet for quickly relying on during rough days. This will help you to prevent consuming extra calories due to emotional eating that make it much more difficult to lose fat.
  2. Tame your stress: If stress is the reason for emotional eating, try non-dietary ways to overcome it. Use stress management techniques to overcome emotional eating or eating disorder such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing or any other technique you can choice. This will promote healthy eating, by allowing you to make better choices of diet and food, particularly when under stress.In addition,drinking a cup of chamomile tea after meals or before going to bed can be useful, as the flavonoid, apigenin, present in chamomile acts as a sedative to relieve stress.
  3. Do a hunger reality check: Whenever you think you wish to eat, sit back and think whether you are really hungry. If you think that your stomach is full, but your mind still is asking for food, you may really not be hungry. Often, if you give the craving time to pass, it will prevent the unnecessary calorie intake from extra food and help you lose fat.
  4. Get support: To overcome emotional eating disorder, take support from consciously choosing healthy lifestyle habits. Physical activity does wonders to your mood and energy levels and also reduces stress. Make exercise and activity a part of your daily routine. Get a good night’s sleep to help appetite control and reduce binge food cravings. Try to spend time with family, friends and positive people to help you overcome from the negative effects of stress. Incorporate omega-3-fatty acids in your diet to maintain good health. This can be done by simply incorporating flax seed oil or fish oil capsules in your daily routine.
  5. Control emotional eating with a supplement: You need to experience the feeling of satiety to effectively control appetite. Use the support of supplements that help to reduce food cravings and curb appetite. This can be a great support to control diet, promote healthy eating, and help lose fat. Garcinia Cambogia extract is an excellent herb for preventing emotional eating as it helps to supress the appetite. In addition, it boosts the secretion of serotonin and endorphins, providing relief from depression. Garcinia Cambogia Extract from BestSource Nutrition is a supplement that can help overcome the effects of emotional eating. It increases serotonin levels to control hunger and emotional food cravings. It also increases thermogenesis, which in turn helps to increase the breakdown of calories for energy purpose. Research suggests that it inhibits starch and sugars from converting into fats, thus helping block fat formation and helping you to lose fat. When supplemented in correct dosage with active lifestyle and healthy eating, Garcinia Cambogia extract capsule delivers extraordinary results for weight loss.

Remember emotional eating does not heal emotional issues; it just creates long-term physical and mental health problems. You cannot cure it just by rejecting all comfort foods either. Nevertheless, you can definitely emerge victorious over it by learning how to pull back from its unhealthy effects by comforting yourself with stress-busting options other than food.

Disclaimer: All content provided on this section is for informational purposes only. Any views or opinions or claims represented in this content are personal, belong solely to the writer and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the writer may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Bestsourcenutrition.com makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this article.
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Dt. Maithili Pashtekar, Registered Dietician ,P.G.Dip Clinical Nutrition
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