If you tend to overeat when you’re feeling down, then yes you are. And you’re not alone. In fact, the habit has a biological basis.
While studying the link between food and mood, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that many carbohydrates – which are sugars and starches found in things like cookies and mashed potatoes – release serotonin. That’s a hormone that helps you relax. But the effect is brief – so to make it last you have to keep shoveling in food. But you can put an end to your emotional bingeing. Here’s how, courtesy of Health magazine.
- Before you eat, ask: “Do I feel hungry?” If yes – then eat. But if not, ask yourself why you’re reaching for food. Are you bored? Then take a walk. Depressed? Call a friend. Excited? Put on some music and dance. Don’t reach for food unless your STOMACH tells you to.
- If you DO eat, then check your feelings throughout your meal. Make sure the food you’re eating is really what you’re hungry for – otherwise you won’t be satisfied. Also, stop every few bites and ask “Am I satisfied yet?” When you say YES, put your fork down.
- It’s not always a BAD thing – so take advantage of it and snack the RIGHT way. You can calm down with healthy carbs, like a slice of multi-grain bread with honey. Also, perk up with protein. Non-fat yogurt, water-packed tuna and lean beef all trigger the release or norepinephrine – which boosts energy and alertness. And allowing yourself a small piece of dark chocolate will release feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins.
Check out the book Managing Your Mind and Mood Through Food by Judith Wurtman.