National Nutrition Month: Emotional eating linked to mood fluctuations

National Nutrition Month: Emotional eating linked to mood fluctuations

The U.S. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates the month of March, every year, as National Nutrition Month. During this month-long campaign, the academy focusses on disseminating awareness about the importance of inculcating healthy eating habits. The American lifestyle is heavily dependent on junk food and therefore as a community, it is important that we strive to eat healthy to ensure our present and future generations follow suit.

However, developing healthy eating habits comes with constant efforts and strict resolve. A tiff with a co-worker or a partner, too much traffic while going or returning from work, unkempt home, disobedient children, the absence of help or for that matter any daily routine issue can drive anyone into a frenzy.

For the majority of us, food serves as an easy escape from the stress and anxiety. This generally develops into a pattern, known as emotional eating, which has become common these days. Emotional eating usually transcends into binge eating, in response to stress. Unfortunately, binge eating is a type of eating disorder, which can lead to overeating and obesity and other health complications. That is why it is important to be able to handle stress and emotions, without reaching for that tempting eatable.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), in 2015, 39 percent or every two in five adults reported resorting to eating junk food in the past month owing to stress. After their binge eating session, half of the adults admitted to feeling disappointed in themselves, feeling bad about the harm that they caused their bodies and feeling lethargic and irritable.

Recently, a group of researchers from the Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg started a project, known as Emo Eat, for establishing a link between unhealthy eating habits and mood fluctuations. In collaboration with the University of Luxembourg, the researchers are presently comparing bulimic and healthy women.

The study mostly involves females since they are the ones majorly affected by eating disorders. An assortment of lab experiments, an eating diary and learning theories are being used by the researchers to study the commonalities and differences between the eating patterns of restrained and emotional individuals.

Principal investigator, Jens Blechert, stated that through these experiments, his team is trying to figure out a possible connection between eating and emotions. He further added that the project outcome might help in the development of treatment protocols for the management of eating disorders.

The same university also conducted an online survey earlier and the results established that while happy people consumed their usual amount of diet, the fearful and agitated ones had lowered appetites, presumably because of the release of the stress hormone cortisol which is an appetite suppressant. The appetite, however, increases when one experiences a feeling of sadness and frustration.

Eating disorders can be managed

Millions of women across the globe struggle with eating disorders that often commence in childhood and can be caused by a range of factors including low self-esteem, peer pressure and child abuse, among others.

Untreated eating disorders can cause obesity, diabetes, cardiac complications, stroke, hypertension and even mental health disorders. Eating disorders are problematic and overwhelming conditions that can have grave effects on the efficiency, health and relationships of a person.

The theme for the National Nutrition Month 2017 is Put Your Best Fork Forward. This simply means that all of us have the ability to make healthier choices and envision the dream of becoming the healthiest nation. By adopting baby steps now during this month, we can set the stage for a healthier body and mind tomorrow.

Help is at hand

Sovereign Health provides care for patients suffering from eating disorders at various levels including residential, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient care. Our trained staff ensures that they address all issues pertaining to eating and other mental health disorders, ensuring total recovery.

If you or your loved one is struggling with any form of eating disorder or mental illness, you can contact us for information on mental health facilities in California. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 for expert advice on finding the best mental health programs in California. You can also chat online with our experts for any further advice and guidance that you need.

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