(NaturalNews) Eating can be a highly emotional process because food does more than just fill our stomachs. While eating to satisfy hunger is a normal function, emotional eating can be a self-defeating and destructive force in someone's life. Emotional eating is to eat for a reason other than hunger.
We are programmed early on in life to attach different emotions with different food. We lavish sweet rewards upon a child for good behavior. When a child is sad what do we give them? Cookies or cake? Punishment can be equated to hunger when the child is forced to miss a meal because of bad behavior. We program our kids to respond to foods at an early age and then set a pattern for comfort through foods that are re-enforced throughout life.
Your gut is densely lined with neuro-peptides and receptors that exchange emotional information. The pancreas alone releases 20 emotionally laden peptides. These emotionally charged peptides regulate assimilation and storage of nutrients. They also help transmit information about being full or hungry to the brain.
In university studies it was found that people tend to eat popcorn, pizza or steak when they are happy, ice cream, cookies and cake when they are sad, and potato chips when they are bored. Studies also show that depressed people tend to eat twice as much at a snack session than happy people, which links depression to obesity.
Comfort foods are eaten either to achieve a feeling or maintain a feeling. They can even be an addictive response providing endorphins and exogenous opioids to the brain.
Five differences between emotional eating and normal hunger:
From the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center web site: 1. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly; physical hunger occurs gradually. 2. When you are eating to fill a void that isn't related to an empty stomach, you crave a specific food, such as pizza or ice cream, and only that food will meet your need. When you eat because you are actually hungry, you're open to options. 3. Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly with the food you crave; physical hunger can wait. 4. Even when you are full, if you're eating to satisfy an emotional need, you're more likely to keep eating. When you're eating because you're hungry, you're more likely to stop when you're full. 5. Emotional eating can leave behind feelings of guilt; eating when you are physically hungry does not. According to the University of MD 75% of all overeating is due to emotions.
* Eat when you are hungry and not when you are sad or angry. Never eat because of an emotional feeling you are trying to bury. * Reduce carb intake, especially the refined carbs that are also called "comfort foods," which release short-term, feel-good neuro chemicals to the body and brain. * When you feel hungry, try drinking some water to see if the sensation goes away. If it is indeed hunger, then you have a good start on your digestion with the water you just imbibed! * Eat slow and relaxed. This will give you more time to chew the food, mix it with enzymes from the saliva and improve your overall digestion by giving the brain more time to keep up with the peptide signals that tell you when you have eaten enough. * Take a brisk walk with the arms swinging, jumping jacks or bicycling. Doing complex math problem or spelling words backwards, counting backwards and skip-counting can help logics take control when you are emotional.
Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for supper.
It comes down to a battle for the mind. Eat for the purpose of supporting a healthy body and mind. Eating for emotional fulfillment leaves you where you started emotionally, and maybe a bit too full.
About the author: Craig Stellpflug is a Cancer Nutrition Specialist, Lifestyle Coach and Neuro Development Consultant at Healing Pathways Medical Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. http://www.healingpathwayscancerclinic.com/ With 17 years of clinical experience working with both brain disorders and cancer, Craig has seen first-hand the devastating effects of vaccines and pharmaceuticals on the human body and has come to the conclusion that a natural lifestyle and natural remedies are the true answers to health and vibrant living. You can find his daily health blog at www.blog.realhealthtalk.com and his articles and radio show archives at www.realhealthtalk.com