In the hustle of urban life, emotional eating has become a prevalent issue. Geetanjali Rao, a business executive in Bengaluru, shares her struggle with turning to comfort foods during times of stress, echoing the widespread problem across India.
Emotional eating, as defined by Dr. Satish Kumar CR, occurs when individuals eat not out of hunger but in response to emotions. Typically observed more in women, teens, and young adults, it often manifests in the evening or late at night.
Various triggers, such as overwhelming stress, boredom, loneliness, or associating food with memories, can lead to emotional eating. It often serves as an unhealthy coping mechanism for individuals dealing with emotional turmoil.
Experts, including mental health professionals Ashwini NV and Nandini G, highlight the multifaceted nature of emotional eating. Factors like nutritional deficiencies, social circumstances, and hormonal fluctuations, such as during the menstrual cycle, can contribute to this behavior.
Psychological, physiological, and neurobiological factors play a role in emotional eating. Stress-induced cortisol release increases cravings for high-calorie foods, triggering the brain’s reward system and releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine.
To address emotional eating, awareness of triggers is crucial. Seeking help from mental health professionals and adopting strategies like cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindful eating, and lifestyle changes can be effective. Establishing healthy routines, staying hydrated, being physically active, and building supportive social networks are essential practices to curb emotional eating.
In essence, understanding and addressing the root causes of emotional eating can pave the way for healthier coping mechanisms and improved overall well-being.
Re-reported from the article originally published in The South First