People with emotional hunger have to resort to food for emotional problems that provide a false welfare.
As its name suggests, the emotional hunger is an eating disorder that is closely related to the emotions and the feelings that we experience. So, suddenly, we feel a huge need to eat, but we don’t even know where or why this urgency. Then, once we soothe ourselves with the first thing that we found at our disposal, we can end up experiencing a sense of guilt because that we have consumed has not met our needs, which indeed were other. What are the implications of this food disorder? Who does it affect? Can we control it?
Emotional hunger, also known as emotional intake, is a disorder of the power which, according to Elia Frías Moreno, psychologist expert in nutrition and founder of Globalpsique, refers to “a desadaptativa and unbalanced behavior basically motivated by psychological, biological and family factors”. Under this conduct, the functional relationship that everyone keep the food stops being it, turning to this (or certain foods), in “a positive reinforcement in the short term, with desperate to improve a low state of mind”.
In this way, eating binges of food become an easy tool to relieve short-term sadness, stress, anxiety, or boredom, “but in the medium and long term, cause an increase in negative feelings, so the food is used as a consolation, to try to control mood and feel better.” We thus enter a vicious circle that could be tricky exit without the help of a specialist.
The fundamental difference with physical hunger is that this becomes gradually (will gradually feeling the need to eat), while emotional hunger arrives suddenly, without warning, and needs to be satisfied quickly, usually with very specific products and usually unhealthy, hence in part feelings of guilt later. As explains Elia Frías, “eat appears before anxiety, which causes a lack of self-awareness in the moment of eating”.
Food as a false emotional comfort
According to the specialist, “evasion and fast eating” generate false well-being very short-term: “to put it metaphorically, what causes us anxiety works as a rally car accelerator pedal. Anxiety to fund the treadle and the sensation of speed is the meal, until there comes a time when car goes too fast and is impossible to control.”
And happiness, may also cause or trigger of emotional hunger? Elia cold would be a different concept, since when we feel an intense joy or elation “we can momentarily lose control and eat those foods that may not suit us much impulsive way”, as it can occur in the case of family celebrations or with friends. However, the difference lies precisely in the sense that triggers this behavior: “when we are celebrating something, the feeling that underlies always is positive. Normally when we eat more by a sense of euphoria are not alone, usually other people with us and we are happy to share. What triggers emotional hunger is always a negative feeling and, generally, the conduct occurs in solitary. The person uses food to feel better, as consolation to an emotional vacuum”.
Aside from an obvious overweight, those affected by emotional hunger usually have low self-esteem, stress, guilt…
A very general profile of the patient diagnosed of emotional hunger is a person with emotional mismanagement, although as sweet Paula Pike, an expert in human nutrition in health psychology and nutrition retreat center, “it is true that we can touch somebody, if we despistamos us a little emotionally speaking”. You would be, therefore, of people who at some point in his life “have been overwhelmed by stressful events that were not able to manage well or several situations”.
According to Lucio is a motive of “increasingly common” consultation, especially between people who come “tired of diet failure” and raised the doubt, because they don’t know what what happens, but they begin to sense something emotional and paying the situation with food. Therefore, the patient afflicted by the disorder of emotional hunger usually a person that was already apparent weight problems, something that tends to be only the tip of the iceberg. The psiconutricionista Elia Frías confirms that many of these patients decide to go to a psychologist “after a long pilgrimage by nutritionists and endocrine doctors, after having tried all kinds of diets miracle. Sense then that your particular problem is not food, “but your attitude and loss of control before it”. That loss of control, adds, is always motivated by a conflicting emotional ‘base state’.
Psychological and emotional levels, those who suffer from this eating disorder tend to be people with low self-esteem and subjected to a stress cronificado. In general, and according to the experience of the psychologist, they are patients “who do not accept themselves, have feelings of guilt and are constantly punished because get meet irrational demands that they themselves have been imposed”. They tend to compete also in them other common factors, as an ‘excessive concern’ by the weight and body image. “Depressed mood is a factor that can trigger and maintain emotional hunger,” added the expert, who explains that other elements that influence are also “the anger, the constant complaint, loneliness, boredom or vital disorientation”.
There is also a factor of vulnerability that is fairly common among patients diagnosed with emotional hunger. As a general rule, they usually have little food education and a long history of restrictive diets or diets that have begun on their own initiative, without the advice and follow-up of a nutrition expert. This causes increases and very sharp decreases in weight. “Total ban on intake of certain foods can trigger the urge to overeat during a downturn, especially when the level of self-esteem is low and there are depressive symptoms.”
And when you start to worry? According to Julia Pascual, psychologist specializing in eating disorders, “mainly when a person feels an irrepressible impulse toward food, seen a loss of control over food intake and this happens for at least three months”. However each person is a world and emotional hunger may occur in many different ways: “there will be those who have more or less long periods during which control almost perfectly or perfectly what they eat but then they eventually go wrong; others who are given specific binge; others who dock food and then vomiting… There are different ways in which we see that emotional hunger can end up forming some sort of eating disorder: obesity, binge eating disorder, bulimia… “, reflects the specialist.”
Emotional hunger can cause feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression.
Emotional hunger has consequences for the health of sufferers both a physical and psychological level, although these will depend on the frequency with which patients suffer these episodes and the way in which face them. Thus, at the psychological level, highlights what Paula Lucio eating disorders expert calls the ‘snowball effect’, and which encourages the outcrop of “negative feelings toward your own person that low motivation to change, low self-esteem and confidence in yourself or uncontrolled and emotional imbalance are on the rise, low tolerance to frustration, compulsive behaviors, laziness and not effort, “, among many other things”. They are, therefore, feelings of frustration, guilt and sadness that happen to each binge and that can affect the mental balance of people, leading to episodes of anxiety and depression. In this regard, as stated by Elia Frías, anxiety is “frequently linked” emotional hunger, “although sometimes the food is the cause and in others is the consequence”.
Another fairly immediate consequence of emotional hunger, if not received adequate and specialized psychological treatment can be the chronification of this eating disorder, with the social implications of this can lead. In extreme cases, when the emotional hunger turns into something chronic, can lead to other more serious eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa or, even, and ultimately endanger the patient’s life.
On the physical level, on the other hand, more visible and obvious consequence can be overweight, since generally the emotional hunger usually satiated with superfluous, processed foods and high caloric value, rich in sugar, saturated fat and salt. As a result of the uncontrolled of this type of product intake, these patients, if they do not receive appropriate treatment, “are likely to develop hypertension, elevated LDL cholesterol, stones in the gallbladder and diabetes”.
The magnitude of the problem is increasing, as stated by Julia Pascual, by binge eating, and more if you are going through a bad time, “seems a standard Act”. Besides for being under-diagnosed. In the end, according to the psychologist, people who have this problem, “they often ask for help to lose weight and do not believe that it is a problem to be treated in such a way that they come to dieticians instead of a psychologist.” If they don’t know it “to diagnose and to derive” the problem can go on the rise, increasing the negative consequences for the physical and psychological health of this eating disorder.
His opinion is corroborated by Paula Lucio, who adds that a misdiagnosis “generally tend to make dietary guidelines for weight loss that will help self-esteem, but at the cost of a diet poor in nutrients and energy quality, which triggers a worsening of cognitive perception and just causing that person make worst food choices which will only to aggravate their health and emotional state”.
Best to treat emotional hunger to go to a psiconutricionista.
Emotional hunger usually occurs in periods in which the person is hypersensitive and presents pictures of anxiety. Those who suffer from it just suffering poisoning of food which, subsequently, will generate guilt, thus creating a vicious circle which can be difficult to get out. To not enter it and control it in the best possible way, the psiconutricionista Elia Frías offers eight interesting tips:
- First and most importantly, seek help from a professional when we realize that by ourselves we are unable to control and the rebalancing of standard food intake associated with this disorder.
- As a general strategy against the emotional hunger, the psiconutricionista is often recommended; “have a planned meal plan, five or six a day, to avoid excesses and the temptations of fall in the intake of superfluous products.”
- Another important aspect are the diets. Instead of resorting to them, with all the prohibitions that entail, proposes only eating raw, and that are in season. In this sense, the increase in the consumption of foods such as vegetables and fruits, nuts, vegetables, rice, pasta or whole-grain breads would be interesting.
- Fully deprecated industrial and processed food intake, being advisable to minimize the consumption of sugar.
- Enter in our diet foods containing tryptophan as the egg, dairy products, whole grain cereals, dates, chicken, Sesame, legumes, bananas and almonds, among many others. According to the expert, the tryptophan “is an essential amino acid that promotes the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in regulating sleep and well-being.” The lack of tryptophan, therefore “can cause anxiety, insomnia and stress”. Remember Elia that is important that tryptophan we consume “comes from fresh foods and seasonal, because good levels of vitamin B6 and magnesium are required for a good metabolism of tryptophan”.
- Sport also is important because doing so “we segregamos endorphins and serotonin, fundamental to feel wellness and inner peace”. As an activity beneficial to decrease anxiety and satiating, psychologist recommended physical activity gentle, like “for example brisk walking good for an hour or carry out exercises of meditation and Mindfulness as the mindfulness”.
- In the words of the psiconutricionista, maintain and conserve the social relations is “essential to standardize the pattern of meals and avoid isolation”.
- Finally, Elia Frias is one of the best natural satiety “illusion and daily motivational goal setting”.