We tend to turn towards food for comfort at our weakest point emotionally. When we’re facing a difficult problem or are just looking to keep ourselves occupied, we consciously or subconsciously, binge on unhealthy food items. This habit is called emotional eating.
Emotional eaters repeatedly turn towards 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. This only sinks him deeper in guilt and depression and affects his health (and self-esteem) adversely.
Since this habit may also be a derivative of low self-esteem or an inability to control one’s emotions, it can quickly sabotage your weight-loss efforts. It leads to eating too many high-calorie, sweet, and fatty foods. Taking refuge in eating may sound like a brilliant idea momentarily because it relieves you of your negative outlook but it does come with a hefty price tag.
Termed Binge Eating Disorder, uncontrolled eating habits triggers overwork on 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 an imbalance of gastric acids in the stomach.
The imbalance goes all the way up to your esophagus and even tongue, and cramps you up. This process is called acid reflux and could leave you struggling with abdominal discomfort, bloating, or heartburn. 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 or compulsive eating.
As mentioned above, most offenders take refuge in binge eating disorder to cope with their negative emotions like stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness, and loneliness on a human’s mind. They are all vectorial representations of low and defeated self-esteem, and you would almost always find obese and depressed people topping the list of emotional eaters.
The major factors which trigger negative emotions and result in emotional eating are:
Food also serves as a distraction.
The major connection between food and mood is that at the time if negative pressures can make you happy instantly, you might then engage in gluttony even without enjoying the taste. This also works the other way around. If you’re worried about an upcoming event or stewing over a conflict, you may turn to indulgences food instead of dealing with the situation.
Also read: Best Tips To Crush Cravings And Beat Anxiety
Though unrealized, emotional eating makes a person happy only for a very small duration. Once that period is off, they go back to bear the burden of guilt about their weight-loss goal. Getting engaged in emotional eating is an unending cycle of Negativity>> Overeating>> Workout regime goes off track>> Triggers negativity>> Overeating.
Identifying emotional eating triggers and bad eating habits can help but they won’t be sufficient to alter your eating behavior. Usually by the time you have identified a pattern, eating in response to emotions or certain situations has already become a habit. You would need to outsmart your thought process to be fit and this usually is never easy.
Choosing healthier alternatives to junk foods is the second step. When you start to reach for food in response to an eating trigger, try one of the following activities. You can also check this free resource to get yourself back on track if you have already consumed some heavy calories indulgently earlier today.
Instead of snacking when you’re not truly hungry, distract yourself by engaging in activities like walking, jogging, reading, and doing household chores, etc.
All junk foods have their lower-calorie alternatives. You should go for low-fat and low-calorie snacks like fresh fruits or vegetables with low-fat dip or popcorns.
Lean on your family and friends or consider joining a support group to fight your emotional eating habits more effectively. Getting expert help is recommended.
Before eating anything, ask yourself if you are hungry or if you are just tempted to eat something. Not being convinced means you should give your craving a pass.
If stress is the reason for your untimely and unhealthy food cravings, you should consult a health and wellness expert. Yoga could help too!
If your emotions are out of control and you’re facing mood swings, you should stay away from such indulgent and/or junk foods.
You can download a free calorie tracker on your smartphone to track your calorie intake and stay strict to avoid going beyond your maximum calorie limits.
This is paramount. A mental therapist and a professional nutritionist can help you identify the underlying causes and alleviate the weight of your indulgence.
Certain foods can trigger acid reflux. Experts know that excess weight, even if it’s a relatively small amount, can result in or worsen the symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Emotional and compulsive eaters are at a far greater risk of acid reflux than other people due to their indulgent habits and love of eating.
A scientific study published 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. It examined the correlation between BMI and the presence of symptoms of GERD. It concluded that overweight people (BMI of 25 to 30) were twice as likely to experience acid reflux as a person with a normal BMI.
Tip: You can check your BMI for free online by clicking this link.
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. Even people with normal body weight or a BMI of 21 to 25 were susceptible to GERD due to small fluctuations in their weight.
Losing belly fat cuts the risk of heart diseases by half. 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 have a high-fat diet which can trigger or worsen heartburn. This clogs the heart’s arteries and accumulates bad cholesterol in them, thus leading to a slower rate of blood circulation and lower blood oxygen levels in the body. This could have serious health implications.
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.
Suggested read: Here’s why you are bloated all the time!
If you have a few extra pounds to lose, you should try losing them healthily and effectively. This will help you get rid of heartburn and acidity, and will also reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The route runs through a disciplined diet and restrictive eating practices and something like a Ketogenic or Mediterranean diet would help.
Here are some expert weight loss tips to reduce acid reflux and contain GERD:
We recommend eliminating fried food and other high-fat meals. 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. Starting your day with a cup of green tea would also help.
Having a large meal may put excess pressure on your stomach and cause acid reflux. You should have 4 to 6 small meals a day to optimize your metabolism rates and reduce your weight. You can also try meditating or working out to maximize this advantage.
Having an oily and fatty meal in the evening or night can lead you quickly to weight gain and acid reflux. It is thus advised to have your last meal about 3 to 4 hours before bedtime and then going for a simple walk for about 15-20 minutes in the meantime. This would reduce the issue of indigestion.
Emotional or compulsive eating may not be a wrong habit in its entirety, but its consequences do often create a hindrance to better health and fitness. 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.
We recommend consulting with a professional nutritionist and a mental therapist today to have a better assessment of your current lifestyle. They would help you identify the triggers that lead you down this path of self-harm and indulgence, and they would also pep you up so you may rise higher from them. Here’s a link to help you do just that!
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