Essential Solutions for Emotional Eating Now
So far everything seems very simple. The problem arises when these physiological signals begin to be replaced by others that have little to do with what our body really needs. And it is that from a very young age, they teach us that the reason to eat is not how hungry we are or how satiated we are (e.g., when we force children to eat a little more, even if they no longer show hunger, or when we forbid them to repeat food, even when it is healthy like fruit or vegetables, because “you are eating too much”).
- But the story only begins here, and it is that we just have to turn on the television to see a multitude of food advertisements in which we are given countless reasons to eat that have nothing to do with nutrition. Fun, belonging to the group, love, self-esteem.
- These and others are the promises that the advertising of food makes us, often not healthy, not only to children but also to adults. You can see some examples in this video about emotional advertising in fast food.
The right Solutions
Added to this is the social custom of celebrating a multitude of events with food, so that this is associated with socializing and celebrating, with positive emotions, with getting out of the routine, etc.
The result of all this is that throughout our lives we learn that the signals that tell us to eat (what psychologists call “discriminative stimulus”) have nothing to do with the signals from our body to nourish us, but rather they have more to do with social expectations and with the emotions we experience.
This learning also occurs on physiological bases that also contribute to this, and that is that certain flavors, such as sweet, produce feelings of calm and well-being, so they are effective in the short term to combat negative emotions, even if this ends.
Becoming a long-term problem
In addition, the functioning of our digestive system after eating also reduces the activation of the organism through the activation of the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, that is, physiologically eating tends to reduce our anxiety or nervousness. All this was not a big problem in the past when food was scarce, but today, with the immensity of products that we have at hand, in particular the ultra-processed, it is a breeding ground to use food in a harmful way for us.
When does this “emotional eating” become a problem?
Much of Emotional Eating we have discussed is commonplace in our society, so it is expected that most people have times when they eat for reasons that are not purely nutritional but have to do with social conventions or responses to emotional stimuli. It is normal for this to happen at times (eg, at certain social events or occasionally giving in to some temptation or whim) and it does not have to be a problem as long as it is not the general trend and we feel that it is our decision.