What causes emotional eating?

What causes emotional eating? Apparently, many have heard the phrase "We live to eat or we eat to live."

This sentence tells us very well whether food controls our thoughts and lives more than it should or whether we become aware of our eating. Conscious eating is caused by physical hunger. It offers pleasure, but it provides our body with the necessary nutrients. However, when food controls our thoughts, it is due to appetite during emotions, and this is what we can call emotional eating.


When it comes to eating behavior, one has to look at the eating habits of childhood home: how the food was perceived, whether the food was also a consolation or a reward, and so on. In addition to eating habits from childhood patterns, lifestyle-related eating habits are added to our lives. It is influenced by the time and opportunities devoted to eating and the different situations that arise.

In the light of Mental Health Month, the topic of how emotions affect eating and eating our emotions has come to the fore. Many of us have an irresistible appetite for chocolate or some other favorite food from time to time. People who do not consume meat or potatoes on a daily basis can sometimes feel the need for them. Meat cravings can be caused by the body's need for iron, potato cravings are often due to potassium deficiency. A good source of potassium is, for example, bananas. In order to become aware of why you get an appetite for a food, you need to feel your body.

When we need fast energy, our body craves fast carbohydrates. One would think that in this case we would choose a sugar-rich caramel candy, but we would often grab chocolate instead. Why? Chocolate contains a lot of cocoa. Cocoa is a great source of magnesium - the body may be deficient in magnesium. Appetites are especially evident when the diet is out of balance. For high chocolate appetites, the menu should include magnesium-rich foods such as nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.), seeds (pumpkin, sesame seeds, etc.), whole-grain oatmeal, beans and green vegetables.

As a nutritionist, I recommend that my clients take a blood test after analyzing the menu and before introducing supplements. Unfortunately, it is not very effective in determining magnesium deficiency, as 60% of magnesium is in the bones, so the blood sample does not show this part. Magnesium is required, among other things, for the absorption of calcium across the cell membrane. When choosing a food supplement, it is recommended to prefer the form of magnesium citrate or glycinate precisely because of its better absorption. Magnesium absorption is aided by vitamin-B6

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include fatigue, weakness, nervousness, muscle tremors or even cramps and depression. At this point, it is important to review your lifestyle - these symptoms can also be caused by excessive exercise or alcohol.

Nutritional psychology, ie finding the causes and connections of eating behavior through psychology, is an exciting and complex field. As a nutrition therapist, I have paid special attention to this over the last year. I help people balance their diet and assess their need for supplements. Balanced menu - less emotional eating!


Author: Nutritionist and trainer Kendra Vaino 

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