What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional Eating refers to the way that emotions can alter our appetite.
Research & studies have highlighted that the relationship between our state of mind and what we put on our plate/what we choose to eat begins in childhood.
Think back to your childhood to a situation when you were perhaps upset, anxious, worried or stressed - all of which are negative emotions - how did your parent/guardian/carer comfort you?
Quite often in these situations as well as a cuddle, we may have been given food as a comfort. As a result we therefore may learn in our childhood to associate that emotional state with eating.
As we grow up and into adulthood we quite often develop alternative coping strategies for dealing with our negative emotions (can be from a partner, friend, a pet (hence why my cat Harriet appears in this shot) or exercise, or something else - meaning we don't always turn to edible or alcohol based comforts..
If for whatever reason we don't, then that's when our emotional eating may become unhealthy & predispose us to a range of health problems.
What's actually happening?
Well, there's a chemical element to all of this which drives us to eat certain foods & rewards us for doing so.
Whenever we eat something we enjoy, Dopamine (a neurotransmitter) is released and is involved with the "reward" part. This process is all taking place in the part of the brain area which is dense with dopamine receptors, which is why the certain foods that appeal to us are so rewarding!
Most of us will find foods high in sugar, fats & salts the most pleasurable. These tastes & aromas combine to form powerful flavour-based memories in the brain & play an important part in the formation & storage of emotional memories.