Feeding our emotions
There are many reasons why we eat and unfortunately it isn’t only because we are hungry. The time we eat and our choice can heavily rely on how we are feeling. Yes, our emotions can determine what and when we eat.
There are two hormones in our body that regulate normal feelings of hunger and satiety. Ghrelin stimulates appetite and leptin sends signals to our brain when we are full. Various emotions and lack of sleep can affect these hormones plus our digestive system in its entirety.
If you are a rare human being that only eats when hungry then you need not read any further. If you are like most of us and are affected by a variety of emotions, some more than others, then please read on.
I have listed the most common emotions to affect our eating habits and their consequences.
Stress can lead to high levels of cortisol, a hormone that triggers cravings for salty, sweet and high fat foods. Over indulging and mindless eating is also associated with stress. Scoffing our food means bypassing initial digestive stages as basic as chewing. This can cause havoc with our oesophagus all the way to our bowels. You may feel like you have just eaten a brick!
Negative feelings often prompt us to use food to make us feel better, to forget how we feel or maybe as a reward system. The way to control this is to recognise how we are feeling BEFORE we take that initial bite or sip of drink. Ask yourself – Why are you eating?
Are you eating at a particular food or at a certain time because you always have done? Try to understand eating patterns and food associations. Be mindful with your actions, recognise the difference between desire and habit. Question yourself – Do I really want to eat this?
Healthy eating is not about depriving ourselves of the foods we enjoy. It is about finding a sensible balance that works for each of us. Try gradually introducing healthier choices like nuts rather than crisps, dark instead of milk chocolate, one glass of wine instead of two and so on. Depriving ourselves constantly makes us feel awful mentally and physically – what’s the benefit of that?!
If you find yourself stressed, busy, sad or having negative emotions pause and relax before you eat. A clear mind makes better food choices, aids digestion and will help us feel fuller for longer.
Written by Christina Symeonides FNTP @edibleNRG limited – creating healthier choices
Pics courtesy of Feelings Flashcards Planet Colour by Todd Parr