Eating emotionally, how many times have you caught yourself eating to calm anxiety, anger, stress, or for no apparent reason? If it is very frequent, you may be eating emotionally and this habit can cause you a lot of damage. Keep reading and you will know why and how to change it.
What are emotions?
They are psychophysiological reactions that represent attempts to adapt to the environment. The four basic emotions are fear, anger, sadness, and joy. Fear, for example, is a normal emotion, which has the function of protecting us from danger. Faced with a certain stimulus, which we perceive as a threat, fear is activated.
This generates a series of physiological changes, thoughts and behaviors, which as a species, have helped us, survive, for millions of years, preparing us to flee or to defend ourselves from danger.
But, what is emotional eating?
Normally, when the glucose levels in our body drop or when we have an empty stomach, signals are sent to our brain that produce the sensation of hunger. This is normal physiological hunger.
However, some people use food, not to satisfy hunger, but as a way to manage their negative emotions and this is emotional eating.
Differences between physiological hunger and emotional hunger
Physiological hunger is a normal function of survival, it starts gradually, it gives you time to calm it with different options, it calms down when it is satisfied and does not generate guilt.
Emotional hunger is an inadequate response to managing your emotions, it desperately prompts you to satisfy it immediately, you calm it with some specific foods, it is difficult to achieve satiety and generates a lot of guilt.
How is this habit acquired?
Let me explain it to you with a story:
A young woman ate all the time and did not know why she was doing it and that this situation was already causing her to be significantly overweight.
After applying the instructions, in order for her to identify what she felt before starting to eat, she was aware that she ate to calm down when she felt anxious and that this happened when she was assigned an important responsibility, which made her very afraid, not being able to comply.
This story is an example of how you can form the habit of Emotional Eating.
At some point, people when faced with a stimulus, in the case described above, the anxiety generated by the fear of not being able, it occurs to them to eat to calm an emotion and obtain the reward: to calm the anxiety.
When you eat emotionally, eating produces a sensation of pleasure, mediated by the secretion of a substance called dopamine.
The pleasure that dopamine produces reinforces the reward received and can have an effect as addictive as that of hallucinogenic drugs.
Emotional eating Problems
When a person repeats sufficiently, that before the stimulus of feeling an emotion, to handle it he uses eating as a routine, which produces as a reward to calm said emotion, the habit of emotional eating is formed.