Health experts speak about ways to recognize, check and curb this disturbingly increasing lifestyle trend of emotional eating.
If obesity is an alarming health disorder then Emotional Eating (EE) is a close relative. Surprisingly, it is a common occurrence with both men and women but often goes unchecked as a diet concern. Over time, EE often results in diet-related disorders and can cause disturbance in blood pressure, sugar levels and weight fluctuations. I spoke to health experts about how rampant emotional eating disorder is with Mumbaiites and if this concern can be curbed with help.
Naini Setalwad, nutritionist says that the ideal way to recognise this disorder is when you start to eat in response to your feelings. "At times when you are not particularly hungry, and are overeating due to your emotions, you can be assured that you are an emotional eater. And yes, you need help."
Pooja Makhija, nutritionist and dietician maintains that emotional eating is a phase. "In some people, the EE phase can get prolonged or get checked before it escalates and manifests into other health concerns." EE is a lot about comfort foods and never about green leafy vegetables and fruits. "Chips, chocolates, colas and candies are all comfort foods. It's important to remember that eating to appease the taste buds can never take away our cause of stress, but distractions, which include physical activities can truly help in this case."
Varkha Chulani, clinical psychologist and psycholtherapist gives the clinical reason to this sort of binging. "It's due to our disintegrating social system, especially in urban areas where people find food the easiest way to distract themselves from stress. Rather than settling differences and sorting out issues, there has been an increase in finding temporary relief in comfort foods." It's best to avoid this methodology to calm nerves by exercising or talking on phone with a pal.
When you are angry, stressed, depressed or happy, do you find yourself looking for food? Ask your colleagues and family if this has been an integral part of your behaviour over time. EE foods do not necessarily need to be deep fried or laced with sugar such as chocolates. At most times, any food laid on the table also serves an E Eater's purpose. In fact, most people get drawn to the refrigerator out of boredom.
A Way Out
With help, this indulgence can be curbed. Start with substitution, says Naini. Clear away all the fattening foods from your desk and kitchen. Plan ahead and substitute it with fresh fruits, nuts, juice and snacks, which have low glycemic index. Fill your stomach up with water and keep a stock of nuts, oats, seasonal fruits, which are a great bet for substitution. Pooja suggests exercises to comfort foods. Or retail therapy, which can bring instant happiness and also keep food away from sight.
Call a Friend
If no amount of substitution seems to work, then just call a friend and chat up. This leads to distraction and finally the emotion, which was triggering your emotional indulgence, would quickly tide over. Ask your friend to join you at a park or at the gym. This way, you will look forward to a routine instead of binging.