What is Emotional Eating?
• Emotional eating is using food as a means of dealing with negative emotions, such as fear, anger, anxiety, frustration, boredom, or sadness
• It is using food to distract us from our feelings or to makes us feel good temporarily because they are “comfort” foods
Facts About Anxiety & Emotional Eating
• Symptoms of anxiety are often present when eating emotionally
• It can also be present in circumstances of blood sugar swinging up and down
• Blood sugar swings exacerbates emotional responses making someone even more prone to emotional eating
• Try to figure out the cause of your anxiety
• Most anxiety is caused by fear – dig deep and find out what are you afraid of.
• It may be something on a subconscious level you are not aware of so see a counsellor to help discover what it is.
• Physically, caffeine, sugar, and alcohol all increase lactic acid levels in the bloodstream. Studies have shown that a high accumulation of lactic acid in the body can increase anxiety and cause panic attacks.
• Blood sugar swinging high or low can also makes us feel anxious – it can increase emotional reactions and cause cravings that will cause us to eat more foods that increase blood sugar, thus making us more prone to emotional ups and down and eating binges.
Good Bacteria and Anxiety
Recent research has found a connection between the bacteria in our gut and our mood. Issues like anxiety, irritability and depression can result.
“To confirm that bacteria can influence behaviour, the researchers colonized germ-free mice with bacteria taken from mice with a different behavioural pattern. They found that when germ-free mice with a genetic background associated with passive behaviour were colonized with bacteria from mice with higher exploratory behaviour, they became more active and daring. Similarly, normally active mice became more passive after receiving bacteria from mice whose genetic background is associated with passive behavior.
While previous research has focused on the role bacteria play in brain development early in life, Collins said this latest research indicates that while many factors determine behaviour, the nature and stability of bacteria in the gut appear to influence behaviour and any disruption, from antibiotics or infection, might produce changes in behaviour.
Bercik said that these results lay the foundation for investigating the therapeutic potential of probiotic bacteria and their products in the treatment of behavioural disorders.”
While there is much more to learn, we can help ourselves by eating fermented foods that promote good gut health. Eating fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha can all help. Try different probiotic supplements as well to see which ones can help you feel better. Aside from mood changes, you’ll also notice digestive improvements as a whole.
How to Know If You Are Hungry?
Ask yourself these questions:
• When did I last eat – has it been a few hours and how much did I eat?
• Does your stomach feel empty?
• Is it rumbling?
• Are you thirsty?
• Are you anxious?
• Are you bored?
• Are you depressed or angry?
Answering these questions can help you know if you are truly hungry or reacting emotionally and using food to handle the emotional feelings. Thirst can also be mistaken for hunger, so drinking water regularly between meals can prevent this feeling.
Tips For Taming Emotional Eating
• Take away temptation
• Develop new hobbies and activities you enjoy
• Redirect your focus to something else, maybe a task or phone a friend
• Find healthy treats that give you the same buzz
• Don’t deprive yourself
• Learn from your emotional eating set backs
• Develop stress management and relaxation techniques
• Keep blood sugar levels stable
• Drink lots of water
• Control Stress
• Do a hunger check
• Keep a food journal
• Develop a supportive network
• Fight boredom
• Get outside in nature (walking is a great choice)
• Speak to a counsellor
When To Seek Professional Help:
• Your eating issues are becoming too frequent
• You feel out of control
• It is interfering with your quality of life/making you ill
• It is causing problems with your friends, family or your job
• Find a counsellor who makes you feel comfortable and who you can talk to
Dealing with emotional eating can be difficult because sometimes it has been engrained in us since childhood. Continue to work on the issues and never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Also know that every time you catch yourself you begin to break the habit. There is a way out and you can be free from emotional eating.