One of the reasons why many diets fail is simply because we don’t always eat to satisfy hunger. Rather most of us turn to food as a means to cope with unpleasant emotions such as loneliness or sadness and stress. But it’s quite funny the guilty feeling that comes afterward for overeating because the original emotional issue persists.
What is Emotional eating?
Emotional eating is simply a way of responding to difficult and stressful feelings by eating even when there is actually no physical hunger. This is often associated with craving for high-carb or high-calorie foods with little nutritional value. These foods which usually include cookies, ice creams, chips, pizza, French fries, and chocolate are often referred to as comfort foods. Apart from the guilty feeling that follows most of the time, there are other possible consequences.
Side Effects of Emotional Eating
Weight-Related Health Problems
Emotional eating can result in excessive weight gain. However, when this practice is prolonged, a whole host of weight-related health issues may follow. For example, high blood pressure, diabetes, and fatigue may result.
The impact of emotional eating could be quite severe. One of the consequences is Nausea. This feeling is usually accompanied by stomach pain. Sometimes, the symptom persists for days after eating a large food quantity during a short period.
There is usually a sense of remorse and guilt after realizing excess food has been eaten particularly after the emotional danger has passed. This guilt also has the potential to lead to low self-esteem or even more emotional eating outbursts and the circle continues.
What is the treatment for emotional eating?
It is important to note a little fact about stress, one of the causes of emotional eating. During stress, the body secretes a chemical known as cortisol. However, to overcome emotional eating, the sufferer needs to recognize the triggers for engaging in such behavior and also learn healthier ways to manage stress.
Exercise is an important step in managing stress. Apart from helping you keep fit by burning calories, a physical activity is the most effective method of lowering circulating cortisol. Studies have shown that regular exercise helps to rid of this hormone hence decreases the tendency to engage in emotional eating. So what’s the best type of exercise for managing stress? While research has shown different forms of physical activity to lower cortisol, intense exercise may be the most efficient. You can engage in cardio with a mix of high-intensity intervals in the form of burpees or sprints.
Eat real, good-for-you foods.
Focus on eating whole foods–based diet such as vegetables and antioxidant-rich fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, good fats like olive oil, lean meats and fish, and fermented foods like kefir or yogurt. These foods are packed with stress-management nutrients like calcium, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, selenium. These foods also help to keep blood sugar levels steady.
It doesn’t matter how powerless you feel over food cravings, there is an answer. You can engage in mindful eating, and change the emotional habits that have taken control of your diet in the past. Most importantly, always engage in active exercises as a way of decreasing the production of stress hormones. You are sure to regain total control over your feelings as well as your diet.