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Are you indulging in emotional eating?

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Life Desk  :

Does your hand always draw towards that last piece of chocolate you thought you would have tomorrow? Chances are you may be eating due to emotional reasons. These emotions may not be drastic in nature but are strong enough to drive you to binge eat. This may be causing your body trouble in some way or the other. Check yourself against the following symptoms that can tell you if you are an emotional gorger.
1. You're eating when you're stressed. This may be based on the situation at home or work.
2. You're eating even after you're done with your meal.
3. You're eating to make yourself feel better.
4. After you're done eating, you feel ashamed or regretful about why you ate.
5. You're indulging in your favourite foods too often that may be high in calories
Why we indulge in emotional eating
Clinical nutritionist, Dr Ishi Khosla says, "The link between food and mood is not new. People have associated eating certain foods with a person's mood. This has been long established, even in Ayurveda."
Emotional eating or eating for psychological reasons works like an emotional compensation, says Annie Baxi, a psychological counsellor. People who are foodies often end up using food as a mean to compensate for their emotions. It gives them a sense of gratification.
Emotional eating, however, should not only be linked to negative feelings, it may also be positive in nature. For example, we do not only eat when we are sad, we also indulge (and over indulge) when we are on a holiday with our loved ones.
This form of reward from eating may begin when we are young. Our parents may reward us with a chocolate when we did well in our exams or pacify us with an ice-cream every time they lost their temper. This way we end up rewarding/compensating ourselves with food.
"Certain ways in which food affects our mood includes an impact on blood sugar levels, an effect on nutrient deficiencies or stimulation of certain food sensitivities. For example, a drop in blood sugar level (hypoglycaemia) can cause irritability, depression, fatigue and moodiness," says Dr. Khosla.
Why emotional eating in not healthy
Comfort foods that are high in starch are usually the trigger points for most to indulge in emotional eating. These can be ice-creams, chips, or chocolate. According to Dr. Patri, this indulgence is only a way of coping with yourself when you're upset.
For media professional Gunjan Arora, emotional eating was a way to elevate her mood. "It gave me a sense of comfort and worked like a medicine. I started when I was still in my teens."
For many like Gunjan, emotional eating starts early, without them even realising it. There are certain ways of detecting it before it gets worse, and/or translates into severe health problems. As parents, look for emotional fluctuations in your child's behaviour and as adults, seek help from those who are close to you.
Emotional eating relates itself to a set of backlogs. These vary from childhood habits, stress to peer pressure and social influence. The motive can be as simple as revenge. For example, Dr. Vasanti R Patri, Indian institute of counselling, quotes, "We can binge eat when someone of importance is avoiding us. This is our way of getting back to them as eating provides a kind of satisfaction. This works as a replacement for the emotional comfort that we are lacking at that point."
How to deal with emotional eating
Baxi further states that if this is a chronic issue, one should consider professional counselling, as emotional bingeing can lead to severe health issues. The state of mindless eating when you're facing an emotional turmoil needs to be rectified as soon as possible.
According to Dr. Patri, a few basic solutions include becoming more mindful about what you're eating. This, she says, can only happen if your emotions are satisfied.
Some other ways of avoiding emotional eating are going for a walk, playing with your pet, or doing voluntary work. Divert your mind and indulge in these as soon as you feel an emotional binge drive, says Dr. Patri, as this will shift your focus from food towards a better elsewhere. Baxi, on the other hand, feels that talking to someone, getting help and speaking it out will make a difference in how you deal with these emotions. "Even if you write a journal or a diary every day, you have a space where you can express yourself freely. Even an activity this simple can help you channelize your emotions in a healthier way."

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