Stress at work, socializing, eating out of boredom or just to process your grief. There are all kinds of different emotions that all lead to one thing: food.
But where does the need to reach for food come from when we feel certain emotions? For that we actually have to go back to our childhood.
According to Malina Malkani of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, emotional eating can be brought back to when we were a baby. From an early age we have been taught that eating removes some kind of problem. When a baby cries, it receives milk to give a feeling of peace of mind. In this way we learn to change a certain negative feeling with food.
Much can be said about the term emotional eating. It is often referred to as a buzzword to justify excessive eating. Yet it is true that you can suffer from this. Your brain can be stimulated by a certain emotion, which makes you want to eat certain foods. Especially with sadness and stress you can feel the urge to solve this with food.
Do you often feel the need to eat when you feel sad? That could be because as a child, for example, you got a piece of candy when you were sad. In addition, food can be a distraction. Your sad feeling disappears for a moment when you eat comfort food, giving your brain a positive stimulus again. The disadvantage is that if you let yourself go completely on all kinds of snacks, you can then again experience a feeling of guilt. Feelings of guilt and shame from the emotional eating can lead to a feeling of stress. And that also influences your eating behavior.
Especially the emotions you experience when you are under stress have a major influence on your eating behavior. Your body produces a hormone called cortisol during stress. This gives you a feeling in your stomach that resembles a hunger. In addition, cortisol, in conjunction with adrenaline, ensures that the sugar reserve in your liver receives a signal. This causes your blood sugar level to rise. In the first instance, this has a positive effect, because it makes you more alert. Unfortunately, this is fairly short-lived, so you experience a kind of sugar dip. And this creates the urge to want to snack so much during stress.