Emotional eating: eating well starting from the brain
Eating well, starting from the brain? This is the general conclusion behind the concept of “emotional eating”, detecting how our emotional state influences our diet and, consequently, our health.
Emotions affect our habits and have consequences. Each one processes his or her state of mind quite differently concerning food. The same fact that impacts our mind does not have the same behaviour in two different people: while some tend to eat more to reduce a state of anxiety, others may eat less.
It’s about identifying how we manage our emotions on a day-to-day basis and how this affects our eating habits. By attacking the root of the problem, we may find an answer to our eating disorders, whether it be bulimia, obesity, poor appetite, binge eating, etc.
“When we are fully aware of the act of eating, we will perform better digestions and have correct assimilation of the food. We will also be able to burn the right calories better, and all this will have an impact on our weight. We will be aware of whether we are eating out of physical hunger or emotional hunger”, says Dr Laura Enciso, psychologist at SHA Wellness Clinic.
The influence of emotions on our habits
The Journal of Eating Disorders recently published an interesting paper which proposed to study how a state of mind and its management influence our eating habits. Participants supported the use of physical activity, the control of their eating behaviours and participation in alternative stress reduction and coping strategies to mitigate the unwanted effects of their emotional eating.
Participants in the study also expressed concern about the consequences of a mood on their weight, body image and health.
“These results suggest that programmes that promote exercise, mindful eating, emotion regulation and body image care may have a positive effect on those struggling to maintain a healthy weight,” the study authors added in their conclusions.
Strategies to address hunger and satiety
Efforts to regulate food consumption are often associated with awareness of signs of hunger and satiety, as well as attempts to use alternative coping strategies to address negative emotions. It is, therefore, a very feasible alternative to trying to benefit from learning strategies to regulate food intake, such as conscious feeding techniques.
“These techniques can help them better to address their internal signals of hunger and satiety to guide them about when and how much to eat. Programmes involving emotion regulation strategies would also be useful, such as those that teach emotional consumers to use healthier coping mechanisms, such as social support and self-care, when they experience negative emotions,” the study noted.
The results of all the work related to emotional eating warn of the importance of proposing integrative plans, an approach from a global point of view that involves different therapeutic areas.
Thus, it is urged to promote exercise because of its usefulness both in terms of weight regulation and stress reduction. Different studies have found a protective effect of physical activity on weight gain in people with emotional eating problems.
Similarly, programmes suggesting that improved body image could also result in a good general state of health and well-being for this group of people.
SHA, nutrition and health
Management of emotions is a fundamental aspect of the development of any health plan. At any level, including eating problems and disorders such as for overweight.
One of the bases of its therapeutic proposals is the preparation of completely personalised diets and health plans. And within this approach, the possibility of carrying out emotional eating sessions is also offered.
Through an initial diagnosis, the aim is to identify the psychological and emotional causes that generate the difficulty in maintaining healthy habits and optimum weight. Through specific techniques, we teach how to manage behaviours related to food addiction or rejection. Besides, unconscious blocks that prevent weight loss or gain are worked on, as well as so-called self-sabotage.