Have you ever caught yourself feeling an incessant hunger-itch in difficult and stressful situations. A hunger that no matter what you eat you don’t feel full? In this article you will learn why and most importantly what you can do to counter this phenomenon.
Homeostasis is the ability of an organism to maintain relatively stable conditions within itself regardless of the conditions of the external environment in which it lives. At the opposite end of the spectrum is stress, which is caused by an actual or threatened disturbance of homeostasis that manifests itself through various behavioural and physiological adaptive responses of the organism.
The stress state leads to a series of reactions within the body, the most important of which is the increased secretion of cortisol and catecholamines. Catecholamines are an important class of hormones and neurotransmitters involved in the biochemical and physiological processes of animal organisms; Adrenaline or Epinephrine, Noradrenaline or Norepinephrine and Dopamine belong to this class.
The extra concentration of these elements results in a disturbance of their balance and thus the creation of possible health problems-threats.
Usually in such cases you will have noticed that either others or yourself turn to food and especially to foods with a high caloric load.
It appears suddenly. Without warning. Like an urgent need to eat something fatty-sweet. Regardless of whether enough time has passed since your previous meal. Accompanied by a feeling. Tension, anger, joy, impatience, boredom, etc.
It is the so-called “emotional hunger (emotional eating).
What is emotional hunger?
This term is used to describe people who consume food to relieve negative emotions. Although stress, unlike anxiety, is not an emotion,it can cause negative emotions to occur. In this way it can indirectly lead to the consumption of ‘comfort food’, i.e. food that creates a sense of well-being after consumption. People who are prone to eating these foods are also characterised by a lack of proper meal planning, resulting in the consumption of junk food and snacks.
According to studies, it is observed that those who are more likely to fall into the trap of emotional hunger are women. This is due to increased restriction of such fatty- junk food under normal circumstances because they wish to maintain their body weight. Thus in stressful situations they are more vulnerable to such slips.
What can you do to get rid of emotional hunger?
Before we go further into ways to manage stress and emotional eating , it is worth mentioning the differences between biological hunger and emotional hunger.
|Biological hunger||Emotional Hunger|
|Gradually increasing||Appears suddenly|
|Occurs hours after a meal||Presented as an urgent need to eat|
|It is general (not related to a specific food)||Not related to the time since the last meal|
|It stops when you are full||Focused on specific foods (sweet – fatty foods)|
|You feel satisfied||Persists even when you feel full|
|–||Feel guilt, shame or discomfort|
Practices you can do to effectively deal with emotional hunger are essentially distraction techniques.
Starting with an activity that in addition to being effective will also help develop your imagination. Reading a book.
Another way is to talk to a friendly person or go for a walk with them. If you like dancing you can always turn to this activity. It has been proven that any form of physical exercise can contribute to the production of endorphins, elements that cause joy.
In conclusion, emotional hunger is a real phenomenon that we encounter in our daily lives. It is perfectly normal to occur, but it is very important to recognize and address it early.