We eat to live. But at times we also eat to comfort and soothe ourselves. There is a belief that such an emotional eating is bad for health. How can we make it healthy?
Emotional eating: is it really bad?
We eat food in order to live and survive. But at times, we also eat when we are upset or have some negative feelings within us. We also tend to eat with positive feelings such as during some celebration. It helps us to soothe and calm us and makes us happy. Every person has a comfort food that he or she reaches out for during such an emotional crisis time. This is emotional eating.
Often, foods we eat during such a sad hour are full of sugars, carbs, and unhealthy fats. It can lead to weight gain, obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart ailments, atherosclerosis, plugging of main body arteries, and such other chronic problems when consumed frequently.
Hence, there is a strong belief that emotional eating is bad for health. Therefore, one should avoid it. If such is the case what should the person under emotional stress do? How to avoid the health issues and yet have the comfort food?
But Pixie Turner, a nutritionist, psychotherapist, and author feels otherwise.
Pixie Turner and her opinion
Pixie Turner has penned the book Food therapy. In this, she talks about food for the soul. She adds that the term of emotional eating has been misunderstood and maligned. Pixie says:
“To be an emotional eater is to be human,”
“Eating in a purely functional way, in order to stay alive, is not the way most people eat, and I don’t think it’s the way that we should eat either. It feels like such a shame to take pleasure away from food when we’ve literally evolved as humans to enjoy food.”
She explains that people assume that this eating is about excessive eating, out of control eating and unhealthy eating. Research too describes it as a dysregulated response to emotions.
But Pixie does not agree with them. She feels that people should enjoy food and have wonderful relationship with it. Food can heal and soothe and comfort. That is certain and one should not take away from the person this aspect of food enjoyment. Comfort food helps to fade the negative emotions and amplifies the positive ones.
How to make the whole aspect healthy? The remedy!
The first way is to try to use a non-food mode to comfort oneself. This can be an exercise, or a guttural scream or even boxing. Or listening to music or journalling. That can help but if does not help, one can turn to the comfort food.
But if the comfort food has a lot of unhealthy elements in it, one can try to make them healthier. Cook at home or try to buy healthier options of those foods.
Try to understand which emotions precipitate the eating cycle and try to cope or overcome those feelings. All these steps can aid in keeping you healthy and at the same time enjoying your food.