The best ways to end emotional hunger caused by stress

When the pandemic began, one of the most popular points in the house was undoubtedly the fridge. This 'ground zero' of the kitchen in which we conserve different foods was the favorite resource to calm the anxiety that recent events caused us. Now, months later, surely many people continue to feel that restlessness that can only be calmed by food.

In reality, emotional hunger, as various psychologists call it, can stem from our most primal survival instincts. "Our bodies do not recognize the difference between the stress we feel if a lion chases us and the stress caused by the deadlines of a job," he admits Aisha Muhammad, nutritionist, in a recent 'BBC' article. "When you are stressed, you crave foods that are easy to digest and release energy quickly to help you fight or escape, that is, or sugar or carbohydrates," says the dietitian. Sophie medlin in that same newspaper.

If you enjoy the experience and take it easy, savoring food well, it will be much better and healthier than compulsive eating

On the other hand, you don't have to feel especially anxious to put food in your mouth without stopping. Other sensations that may appear to a greater or lesser extent also play a role, such as boredom, very common during the pandemic as it has restricted and paralyzed our social interactions. In this case, we eat with the aim of escaping from that uncomfortable feeling of having nothing to do, or worse still, not knowing what to do with our time.

If we are bored or very busy, opening the refrigerator can be a relief mechanism to disconnect from the routine. Like, for example, someone who has an addiction to cigarettes. The problem is when we do it repeatedly and compulsively, because then it will not only lose its usefulness of disconnection, but it will imply a feeling of added frustration, as we are not able to concentrate and remove the temptations.

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Ines Gutierrez

But this does not have to be negative either. If instead of opting for hypercaloric or sugar-laden foods we opt for fruit, Emotional hunger can become a great ally in order to lead a healthier life and also to lose weight. Unfortunately, this rarely happens, as it is more likely that your body asks you for a sugar or fat booster to calm anxiety, as Medlin previously explained. Therefore, the best way to live with emotional hunger is to face it and avoid opening the refrigerator every time you feel stress.

"The three F's"

Rangan Chatterjee, Author of several books on the relationship between weight loss and stress, he has developed a technique that he called the rule of "the three efes", in relation to the concepts of "feel","feed" Y "find" in English, ("feel","feed" Y "to find out"respectively). Thus, the first refers to analyzing and reflecting on the sensation that triggers stress: if you're bored, it's just stress or you're really hungry. The second is based on choosing well the food that you are going to put in your mouth and if you are really going to feel better after eating it. Finally, the discovery alludes to finding new techniques to keep emotional hunger at bay. This could be a type of physical exercise, a bath, sleeping, calling a friend, or practicing relaxation techniques to reduce boredom or stress.

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Another point of view is that of the nutritionist Rachel hartley. According to her, this emotional hunger can be reversed by tasting food with more pleasure. What she calls "eating with attention and intention." If you enjoy the experience and take it easy, savoring the food that you put in your mouth well in order to also reduce the quantity, it will be much better than compulsive eating.

"Food rarely solves problems and cannot help you process them", Hartley continues. "So eating shouldn't be the only survival mechanism in your toolbox." Still, if you really fall into the trap and open the fridge more frequently, you shouldn't be flailing yourself or thinking you're doing the wrong thing either. This will only exacerbate your feeling of anxiety, making you overly concerned about your compulsiveness. In this way, the best thing will be to bet on a balanced diet in which there are all kinds of foods, establish a meal and dinner plan and, above all, be responsible so that you do not get the bitter feeling that you cannot control the urge to put something in your mouth.

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