Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eating By Emotion

Emotional eating is usually associated with overeating because someone is depressed, angry or another negative emotion.  Yet,  research has found that emotional eaters will also overeat when they are happy (Appetite 67: 74, 2013).

The study showed movie clips that elicit happy, sad or neutral emotion to college students.  Before and after the movie, students filled out questions about their mood.  After the movie clip, snacks were brought out.  The ones who identified themselves as emotional eaters consumed  more calories after a happy movie as opposed to a sad or neutral movie.  The non-emotional eaters ate the same amount of calories irregardless of the type of movie clip shown.

Emotional eating is difficult to manage, but awareness of the issue is the first place to start.  It is especially helpful to know that all types of emotions can sabotage your weight management efforts.

Ayurveda has some guidelines that can help with this issue. In Ayurveda eating is approached from a digestion standpoint.  Eating should be done in a way that promotes nutrient absorption and strengthens the body.  One of the recommendations is that a person should eat in a calm, neutral state, never when excited, angry or sad.  It is thought the emotion is digested along with the food and prevents healthy digestion.  A second recommendation is that one should eat until the point of being 75% full.

Practicing these two guidelines will help manage emotional eating.  Waiting to eat when one is calm will avoid the mindless overeating that comes from trying to eat to soothe an emotion.  Setting an intention to only eat in the neutral state is similar to a smoker not being able to smoke in a public building.  The smoker has to wait to smoke.  The emotional eater can avoid many problems just by waiting to eat when they are in a neutral mood.  Eating to a point of fullness also helps to limit overeeating.  The eater has a certain stopping point, and this prevents consuming more food than they really need.

The Ayurvedic guidelines have helped people eat and digest food for thousands of years, and they can still help people today.

Stay healthy & well,

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