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Emotions and Food Cravings

Emotions and Food Cravings


Some crave for ice creams, others crave for pizza, yet others crave for salty snacks. These are physical food cravings. They may be very real and physically disturb a person. On the other hand, some people experience the food cravings only when they are emotionally disturbed as when they are anxious, depressed, stressed, sad or bored. When emotion cause food cravings you need to know how to overcome them as they obstruct your good dieting intentions!

What to eat when you experience tension and anxiety?

Anxious people usually have a tendency to crave sweets like chocolates, cakes and sweets biscuits. Such carbohydrate tends to make a person feel calm as they cause a sudden rise in blood sugar. They also help in releasing the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter serotonin. But soon after a few hours the sugar drops making the feelings of anxiety return again. You can overcome these sweet cravings by eating whole wheat bread sandwiches, boiled potato chaat, dry bhel, carrot sticks, and crunchy fruits like apples and pears. Such foods help control your sugar cravings and do not come in the way of your healthy dieting intentions.

What to eat when you are bored?

People who eat due to boredom need to snack through the day to keep boredom at bay. Nuts like almonds, peanuts and roasted chana, are excellent choices as you can eat them one by one, they are crunchy, salty, need to be chewed and above all, they offer exceptional health benefits. When you combine these with black raisins in a proportion of 3:1 which means three parts of almonds and one part of raisins, they make ideal energy boosting, boredom relieving snack.

What to eat when you are depressed?

When a person feels depressed all that she wants to do is to eat sweets. This definitely makes her feel good but also makes her gain weight. Unfortunately, the ‘feel good’ factor stays only for a couple of hours but excess weight sticks on forever. In order to avoid this unnecessary weight gain, it is important to avoid sweets. You can eat fruits instead when you feel down and out. Fruits gradually increase the level of sugar in the blood as fructose (fruit sugar) is slowly absorbed. This does not cause an insulin spike and therefore does not makes you gain weight. Also, fruits have the added benefits of providing your body with loads of antioxidant. Fruits are also potent, detoxifying agents and provide your body with vitamins and minerals. So switch to fruits instead of calorie-laden sweets when you are feeling low and depressed.

It is important to note that all forms of table sugar like chocolates, colas, ice creams and refined simple carbohydrates like white bread, noodles and potatoes trigger your appetite and cravings. On the other hand foods with complex carbohydrates like whole wheat chapattis, wheat khakhras, jowar, bran, most fruits, curd and proteins like tofu, rajma, soybean and sprouts will keep you full for a longer time and manage your serotonin levels better. Our state of health is not only governed by what we choose to eat but what we choose not to eat. The answer lies in choosing foods, which counter hunger. Life will always have its stresses, but dealing with stress in a healthful, nutritional way can have a positive impact on your energy level, emotional and physical health.

(As published in Hindustan Times dated June 24, 2019)

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