Food for emotional hunger!

Many people turn to food as a solace when they are bored, stressed out, lonely or depressed. But how many of them realise that eating prompted by emotions make their conditions worse!
Called emotional eating, it is the result of people using food as a way to deal with feelings instead of to satisfy hunger.
Studies reveal that emotional eating very often leads to unnecessary consumption of more calories and weight gain.
Not only that the original emotional issues do continue to remain, but also they feel guilty for eating more times than what is required.
Eating food when things get tough is not a solution to life’s challenges, says Havard University Newsletter.
“It only works temporarily. Worse, it causes long-term distress if it brings about weight gain”, it adds.
Says Dr Daniel G Amen, Psychiatrist, it’s no wonder so many of us turn to food when we feel stressed, frustrated, mad, sad, fearful, anxious or even happy.
“For many of us, emotional eating has been encoded in our brains since we were small children”, he says.
During times of heightened stress, the brain’s memory centres shift into overdrive and the events, the emotions, and the way you ate to soothe yourself become etched into your unconsciousness, he says.
“This can create a pattern of emotional overeating that you will feel compelled to repeat over and over again”, he adds.
To get off the emotional overeating roller coaster, you have to address this struggle by looking into your unconscious mind and address why you are compelled to eat for emotional reasons, the psychiatrist suggests.
According to a report in HelpGuide, occasionally using food as a pick-me-up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when eating becomes a primary emotional coping mechanism, a person can get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.
“Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And the person often feels worse than he did before because of the unnecessary calories he has consumed”, says the report.
According to the Harvard Health Letter, to control emotional eating is to figure out what your triggers are. Keep a food diary that records not only what and how much you ate, but also how you felt at the time.
“Once you recognize a pattern, develop a strategy to break it. For instance, if you often eat because you think you deserve it after a tough day, remember that you also deserve to lose weight, feel healthy, and be proud of yourself,’’ it urges.
If you eat because of stress, learn to dial back that stress. Yoga, meditation, and regular exercise can help reduce stress levels, it adds. However, there are so many situations that revolve around food, but we are not always hungry at those times. People eat out of pressure to be social, says Judy Caplan, a dietitian and nutritionist.
People eat out of pressure to be social. They feel it is rude not to eat when someone has gone to the trouble and/or expense of preparing food. Emotional eating can lead to overweight and obesity.
“In order to stop emotional eating, up you have to first learn to distinguish hunger. Once you can identify when you are truly hungry, you can examine the other reasons that cause you to eat”, Judy says.
MedicalNewsToday recommends that the first step a person needs to take to rid themselves of emotional eating is to recognize the triggers and situations that apply in his life.
Keeping a food diary or journal can help to identify situations when someone is more likely to eat because of emotional instead of physical hunger, it adds.