When we allow our emotions to influence our eating habits, this is called “emotional eating.” Nutritional specialist and life coach Gizen Tutar offers some advice on how to protect oneself from this pattern, one that most particularly affects women.
Many people experience episodes of emotional eating. If you are someone who loses their appetite completely when you become excited or nervous, or to the contrary, find yourself eating nervously or out of anger, you may be someone who is prone to emotional eating. Tutar notes that making sure your eating habits are regular and well ordered is one of the best ways to protect yourself from allowing emotions to dictate how and when you eat.
As Tutar explains it, many cases of emotional eating occur when a person is unable to fight strong feelings such as stress, anguish, worry or even sudden and extreme happiness. This can lead to a pattern where a person consumes enormous amounts of food in a very brief period of time, stuffing themselves without even being aware of it. On the contrary, the same feelings in someone else can manifest in being be unable to eat anything, leading them to lose their appetite entirely. Tutar notes that during emotional eating attacks, foods most commonly craved tend to be high in carbohydrates and sugar.
Avoid single types of food
If you feel anxious, worried or significantly uneasy about something, and you find that your appetite completely disappears, you can feel healthier and more at ease by trying to eat a little from the each of the four main food groups on a frequent schedule. This would mean, for example, from milk and dairy products, meats, fruits and vegetables and grains. Try to avoid limiting yourself to just one kind of food.
You can gain strength from the benefits of herbal teas such as chamomile, St. John’s Wort and lemon balm, which can all help to calm and soothe your emotions. Drinking herbal teas will help you feel less nervous and calmer.
Don’t neglect legumes and pulses on your dinner table. Look for whole wheat, wholegrain breads, peas, beans and chickpeas. Dried legumes possess high levels of vitamin B and are quite important for the nervous system. There is scientific evidence to suggest that people with insufficient levels of vitamin B tend to have higher levels of depression. Eating salmon is also important as the high levels of Omega-3 acids in salmon will also aid in you feeling happier and calmer.
Is your need to eat connected with real hunger?
If you find that your hunger levels rise when you are under high levels of stress or anxiety, and you find that you snack even when you are already full, you need to keep some things in mind:
Become aware of the situation. Know that your “need” to eat is not actually connected to hunger.
Practice breathing exercises in a quiet place. Be your own leader, telling yourself that you will be even unhappier if you eat when not hungry.
Call a friend. Try throwing yourself into different conversations to distract yourself from unnecessary eating.
Go on a short, brisk walk. Just getting out of the house can be enough to clear your mind and help you focus on other things.
When you must have something sweet, choose healthier options such as drinking a cup of hot chocolate or salep or perhaps choosing a 100-calorie wholegrain bar.
Use cinnamon. Scientific research has shown that cinnamon has the effect of reducing craving for sweets and sugar. Try putting a cinnamon stick in your tea or adding a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to your yoghurt or milk. Take advantage of all that cinnamon has to offer.
Don't skip meals. Staying hungry for more than three hours during the day can lead to an imbalance in blood sugar levels, which might place you right back in front of the refrigerator. So do not skip meals and go without eating for much more than three to four hours during the daytime.