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We tend to turn towards food for comfort at our weakest point emotionally. Consciously or unconsciously, when we’re facing a difficult problem, stress, or just looking to keep ourselves occupied, we further tend to binge on unhealthy food items, a bad habit known as emotional eating.
Emotional eaters are people who repeatedly move their hands toward food even when they are not physically hungry. It is a compulsive habit and an emotional eater often finds himself unable to control his cravings. It may seem self-destructive but is always an attempt at self-help to manage one’s mood swings with food.
Emotional eating and acid reflux
Emotional eating can quickly sabotage your weight-loss efforts. It often leads to eating too much, especially too much of high-calorie, sweet, fatty foods. The good news is that if you’re prone to emotional eating, you can take steps to regain control of your eating habits and get back on track with your weight-loss goals.
This leads to overwork on the part of your digestive system, especially the liver, spleen, and intestines. All these organs need more water to dissolve your food and in case it is not there, the salts present in the food start mixing with the already scarce water, leading to the formation of acids.
This acid goes all the way up to your esophagus and even tongue, and cramps you up. This process is called acid reflux and it is a not good feeling at all to be stuck with it. We shall offer more advice on how you can address the issue of acid reflux, but for now, let’s focus on the topic of emotional eating.
Mood and Food: The Divine Connection for Emotional Eaters!
Emotional eating is considered a major tool for effective handling and suppressing the impact of negative emotions like stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness, and loneliness on a human’s mind. The major factors which trigger negative emotions and result in emotional eating are:
3. Financial issues
5. Relationship conflicts
6. Work stress
8. Poor self-esteem
10. Fatigue etc.
The major connection between food and mood is that at the time if negative pressures can make you happy instantly. In such situations, you tend to engage in binge eating even without enjoying the taste. Food also serves as a distraction. If you’re worried about an upcoming event or stewing over a conflict, you may focus on eating comfort food instead of dealing with the painful situation.
Though unrealized, emotional eating makes a person happy only for a very small duration as after it, they have to face the problem and also bear the additional burden of guilt of setting back their weight-loss goal. Getting engaged in emotional eating is an unending cycle of Negativity>> Overeating>> Workout regime goes off track>> Triggers negativity>> Overeating
Tips to handle emotional eating
Identifying emotional eating triggers and bad eating habits are the early steps but they are not sufficient by themselves to alter eating behavior. Usually by the time you have identified a pattern, eating in response to emotions or certain situations has become a habit. Now you have to break that habit.
Developing alternatives to eating is the second step. When you start to reach for food in response to an eating trigger, try one of the following activities instead.
a) Fight boredom: Instead of snacking when you’re not truly hungry, distract yourself by engaging in activities like walking, jogging, reading, and engaging in household chores, etc.
b) Healthy munching: When you feel too tempted to have your favorite food look for their lower-calorie versions. Choose low-fat, low-calorie snacks like fresh fruits or vegetables with low-fat dip, or popcorns to satisfy your temptations.
c) Get social: Lean on your family and friends or consider joining a support group to fight your emotional eating habits more effectively.
d) Rely on reality checks: Before eating anything, ask yourself if you are hungry, or is it just a temptation. If you feel that you are not hungry, then give your craving a little time to pass.
e) De-stress healthily: If stress is the main reason for your dependence on food look for healthier ways to manage stress like yoga, meditation, relaxing therapies, spas, etc.
f) Keep a safe distance: If you feel that your emotions are out of control and you’re frequently facing mood swings, the best way to stay away from calories is to keep supplies of such comfort foods away from your home. Also, don’t forget to postpone your trips to grocery stores till the time your emotions are back in control.
g) Use calorie tracker: Track your calorie intake and stay strict to avoid going beyond your maximum calorie limits.
So, if you are also facing emotional eating disorders forgive yourself and start fresh now. Try to learn from past experiences and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future using these effective tips.
Your weight loss plan won’t work until you also address the most important side effect of emotional eating- Acid Reflux. As we mentioned earlier, it is not a happy situation to be in and you can always take some steps to get rid of it. Some of the methods are being discussed next.
Weight Loss and Acid Reflux
We all know that eating certain foods can trigger an uncomfortable period of acid reflux. Experts have now found that excess weight, even if it’s a relatively small amount, can result in or worsen the symptoms for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Emotional eaters are obviously at a far greater risk of acid reflux than other people for obvious reasons.
A 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that even small changes in weight in a person with a normal BMI can elevate the severity of GERD or acid reflux. This study examined the correlation between BMI and the presence of symptoms of GERD. Participants of the study who had a BMI of 25 to 30 were classified as overweight and results showed that these people were twice as likely to experience acid reflux as a person with a normal BMI.
Participants who were obese with a BMI of above 30, were thrice as likely of developing GERD symptoms such as chest pain, discomfort, heartburn, and difficulty swallowing. However, even people with normal body weight or a BMI of 21 to 25 were susceptible to GERD due to small fluctuations in their weight.
Apart from the aesthetics, one benefit of losing belly fat is reducing your risk of heart diseases. Studies show that the excess weight in the midsection may be the cause of heartburn in most patients. This is because the excess fat in the abdominal region compresses the stomach and increases its internal pressure causing acid reflux. Most people who are overweight also tend to have a high-fat diet which can worsen or trigger heartburn.
How to manage acid reflux?
If you’re overweight, losing just 10% of your body weight can significantly improve your chances of avoiding GERD symptoms and a risk of many chronic illnesses. If you’re at your ideal weight, it is not advisable to lose weight to treat heartburn. Seeking help from a doctor or changing your diet to make it more GERD-friendly by minimizing fat and oil and dairy may help.
If you have a few extra pounds to lose, try losing them healthily and effectively. Losing weight will not only treat your heartburn, but it will also lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Follow these weight loss tips to improve GERD symptoms:
1. Lower your fat intake
Eliminate fried food and other high-fat meals and see if this makes a difference. Reducing the fat in your diet will increase the pressure in your lower esophageal sphincter and help the stomach empty faster, thus reducing your chances of acid reflux.
2. Have small frequent meals
Having a large meal may put excess pressure in your stomach and cause acid reflux. Try having 4-6 small meals a day.
3. Avoid heavy meals in the evening
Having a heavy meal in the evening or night is not only linked to weight gain but will increase your risk of acid reflux too. Have your last meal 3 to 4 hours before bedtime to keep GERD symptoms at bay.
Emotional eating is not exactly a wrong habit, but its over the line effects can always create a hindrance to better health. There is a limit to which your body can process your foods and convert them to energy. The more you exert pressure on this natural system, the worse it shall become for you- and acid reflux is just one side effect of it!
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