Emotions stuff can be off-putting to tackle, even shameful, and if you aren’t ready that’s ok.
Here’s a little hope!
With consistent new evidence emerging about this whole area of Gut-Brain connection, it is refreshing to know and learn that we can support our emotions through our gut (2).
So let’s get back to physiological responses at play when we are eating our emotions.
First off stress plays a huge role. This can be big stresses of life but also the smaller persistent daily niggles of life. These include fear of food, busyness, loneliness, guilt and shame of being out of control with food and also the sadness you may feel about your body.
Restrictive eating can be a stress on the body as it’s worried when it’ll be fed next. Over-exercising a tired body or a body that is struggling to work efficiently can be a stress. Stress can be uncertainty about your job, your ability to fight COVID should you contract.
What we know about all these stressors, in particular prolonged stress, is that it is implicated in unfavourable neurological responses through the gut-brain axis and can create significant health risks. (3, 4,5)
Without diving into the science too much, when you are stressed you have more glucocorticoids floating around in your body. The hunger and digestion hormones insulin, leptin and ghrelin are all out of sorts and your ability to break down fat cells reduces and your fat store around the middle increases.
But also the kinds of foods that you are drawn towards are those that give you a reward feeling, you know sugar, bread etc. Your continued stress state promotes your body to seek out stress relieving foods that will produce a calming ‘dopamine’ release. Unfortunately this will typically mean a higher calorie intake which does nothing for your health or waistline.
Other reactions from stress occur in your digestive system where you begin to notice bloating, belching, heartburn, alternating constipation and diarrhoea, pain and cramping, mood swings, lack of concentration to name a few. When our body is fighting the grizzly bear, our blood flows away from our digestive system so no optimal digestion and absorption of nutrients can happen.
Can you see how and why we link emotions and food now?
I would love to say I can share with you the magic bullet of info, but I can’t. For each and every one of us, it takes time to work on the discovering triggers and stressors in your physiology, psychology and your environment. If you want to make permanent changes, you can find my support offerings here.
Emotional Eating is a powerful way to find relief, it’s why we all do it at some point or other.
But if this cycle is bugging you at the moment and you just need a couple of ideas to help then look at HOW you are eating.
- Eat 3 meals a day, simple right, but even committing to 3 meals a day ESPECIALLY if you have had an emotional eating episode will the transformational for you.
- Sleep, get lots of it. And if your sleep is interrupted, nap. More sleep, less cravings. Less cravings, more control.
Remember this eating does not require any special talents, it simply requires appreciation and respect both for ourselves and our food.
- SLOW DOWN. Mindful eating has been shown to have a positive effect on all the variables I have mentioned above.