Food, stress, and your emotional relationship


Dra. Chantal Ruíz, Nutritionist.

Stress is a disorder that currently affects a large part of the population, it occurs when life events, whether physical or mental, exceed the person's ability to deal with it.

The connection that can occur in many cases between stress and eating not only conditions eating habits, but also the nutritional metabolic process and the situation of satisfaction of nutritional needs, conditioning a state of emotional hunger and the consequent overeating .

Food is essential for survival, and can be defined as the process by which living things consume food to receive the necessary nutrients. Overeating involves an excess of diet and commonly an excess of ultra-processed foods, highly addictive and poor in nutrients, causing problems of overweight, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

The difference between food and nutrition is that a person can eat, but is not necessarily feeding. Food is a voluntary process in which you consume food, while nutrition is a totally involuntary biological process at the cellular level.

Food should be substances that are consumed to meet a basic physiological need: hunger. But today, due to poor nutritional habits and the high prevalence of anxiety states in the population, the act of eating for the wrong reasons has become normalized, and we eat out of habit, out of sadness, because we had a bad day, to celebrate, out of boredom, out of whim, because they offered it to us, in short, that currently there is a disproportionate intake unrelated to real hunger and rather related to the desire to eat and alleviate feelings.

The purpose of our consumption is no longer usually merely nutritional, so much so that many foods lacking in nutrients are usually consumed, such as sugary soft drinks, ultra-processed products, alcoholic beverages and even diet products.

Now, we must also bear in mind that food is much more than fuel, it is part of who we are and how we express ourselves, it has great emotional value, so it should never be trivialized. However, things can get out of hand when the emotional aspect of eating turns into a way to numb painful or difficult emotions.

The important thing is that feeding is a voluntary process and therefore educable.

Said education will not only consist of food re-education and change of habits, but also at the root of the problem, working on chronic stress and bad management of emotions with psychological support.
Those with the greatest vulnerability would increase their food intake under stress conditions, would be people with obesity and people who chronically restrict their diet, so they will respond to anxiety as if they experienced “hunger”, which would really be appetite or the desire to eat .

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