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The battle to overcome emotional hunger

by ace
The battle to overcome emotional hunger

How many times have you unconsciously mugged the fridge after arguing with a family member, devoured a whole packet of crackers while you waited for an important phone call, passed a pastry on the way home to make up for a "no day" or made room for dessert at a dinner party? of friends even though completely sated? But did that pint of ice cream that ended up on a couch night really make her feel better – or just make her feel dangerously full and then guilty?

We do not always eat simply to satisfy hunger. We also use food to feel comfort, relieve stress, celebrate a date or as a reward. Doing so from time to time is not necessarily bad and usually results from behavior that crosses all cultures and stages of life, but when the first impulse is to eat whenever we feel upset, bored, alone, or exhausted, we face a problem. much more complex. In this case, hunger or desire to eat arise when a particular question arises, resulting in a food intake driven by emotions rather than nutritional needs. The pleasure and well-being associated with food upon initial ingestion quickly gives way to feelings of guilt, loss of control and regret, with the tendency to repeat the same pattern in a future situation, thus initiating a vicious cycle.

That's what happened to Magda Gonçalves. Very early – 4/5 years – that its relationship with food was problematic. Despite the "normal" family, she was a shy, shy, overweight child who eventually suffered from bullying at school. Her parents sought to provide the necessary support through nutritionists, endocrinologists, dietitians, and other reputable dieters and weight-loss professionals, but nothing worked. Magda tried every diet she had to try, including replacing meals with shakes, eliminating carbohydrates and sweets, calorie counting, weighing food, and so on. The truth was that she was losing weight (she lost 57 kilos in two and a half years), but then she always recovered everything she had lost and sometimes earned even more. Their fears were still there, accompanied by a lack of confidence and self-esteem, causing suffering that only eased after eating large amounts of food. At the age of 32, she went with her husband to the United States, where they took a healthy communication course for couples.

There it was approached by therapists who questioned its relationship to food. Although he felt some resistance to what he heard and accepted that he had any kind of problems other than gluttony or lack of willpower, he was shortly after starting a six-week program at the Arizona Center for Eating Disorders. . There also began a process of personal development and self-knowledge, where he learned to find a purpose in life and to understand where his battle with food came from. Today she is a food psychologist because she wanted to show others what she was taught and has now launched a book on the subject. That was the pretext for a conversation where he explained his work, to whom it is directed, and what this is about binge eating and emotional hunger.

"Eating with pleasure and without guilt can be part of our daily lives." This is the message that Magda Gonçalves, a food psychologist, wants to convey through her profession and the book Winning the Battle with Food, from Raw Material Editions. "What makes me eat the way I eat?" This is one of the questions Magda Gonçalves helps her clients answer. We often choose to feed in a way that we are not comfortable with and are not sure why. "Food psychology goes far beyond what we eat to realize who we are as eaters." So begins the coach, whose job is to analyze the connections between mind, body, diet, and how the social, emotional, and cultural aspects of life influence metabolism.

We have long been flooded with messages that promote a healthy lifestyle – different types of diets spring from books, television shows and other media, often being conveyed notions of weakness, lack of willpower, or poor self-control. results are not achieved. But for many, the problem is not the scarcity of information on what to do to get the right weight. Involving issues that vary from person to person, we must recognize that often our challenges with food, body image and health are linked to everyday concerns, whether financial, professional, family and / or sentimental, as well as to the hopes, dreams and fears that accompany us. "If people really want to indulge in this process they find out, through the difficulties with food, how this relationship is somehow mirroring their way of being in other areas of life." And it exemplifies with the case of those who spend the day following a strict eating plan and then going wild at night: "We can take that aspect of '8 and 80' with food (and who says this, says others) and realize where it is. that '8 and 80' also reveals itself in other areas of life – with a relationship, with shopping, with children, etc. "



– Tends to emerge gradually and may be delayed.

– Can be satisfied with any type and number of foods.

– Once full, can easily stop eating.

– Does not cause feelings of guilt.


– It comes up suddenly and urgently.

– Causes very specific wishes (such as pizza or ice cream).

– There is a tendency to eat more than normal and necessary.

– May trigger feelings of guilt, shame and helplessness.

– It comes from the head: it focuses on textures, tastes and smells.

Starting from the scientific principle that body and mind exist in a very complex, deeply affecting connection, these emotional patterns, psychological and sociocultural factors, and even biological determinants that significantly alter our behavior regarding food easily give rise to illness or disease. eating disorders. The best known are anorexia and bulimia, but Magda Gonçalves' area of ​​expertise is not that. The psychologist helps people who eat compulsively but then do not vomit – they are those who suffer from what they call binge eating disorder: "These people may be very, little or even overweight, but it's the way they are focused, obsessed, compulsively focused on food. They have consulted with a number of experts, they know what it is to eat healthily, but they always come back to square one and cannot control how much and how often they eat. In the end, food is a cane, used for some type of exhaust, compensation or comfort. " That said, it clarifies that the problem responsible for bringing a person to an extreme of the disease such as anorexia does not have to be greater than that of someone who struggles with two or three pounds daily and has a perfectly normal weight. "The way the problem turns out in terms of illness is very different because we are all different and deal with things our way."

In addition to physiological need, people eat for many reasons. First, one must be able to distinguish between emotional hunger and real hunger (see box). Then you have to identify the triggers, that is, the elements that trigger this compulsion with food. Emotional hunger is sometimes linked to major life events such as death or divorce. More often, however, it is the small daily tensions that are the main culprits. When they are chronic, as is so common in today's fast-paced world, stress and anxiety lead to increased cortisol. This hormone causes a craving for very sweet, salty and high fat foods that lead to a burst of energy and pleasure. It's like any other drug: the addictive character of this kind of food makes us continually look for it when we feel down.
Is your hunger emotional?

Answer these questions and find out:

  • – Do you eat more when you feel stressed?
  • Do you eat when you are no longer hungry or when you feel full?
  • Are you eating larger than normal amounts?
  • – Do you usually eat at unusual times?
  • Do you eat to feel better (to calm down and distract yourself when you are sad, angry, upset, anxious, etc.)?
  • – Do you usually reward yourself with food?
  • – Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel that food is like a friend?
  • Do you feel helpless or poorly controlled around food?
  • – Has there been any sudden change in your weight recently?
  • – Do you have a strict eating plan during the day or week, but at night or at the weekend are you out of control?
  • Do you often think about the next time you will eat?
  • Do you feel guilty and ashamed after eating certain foods or quantities?

If you have answered most of these questions in the affirmative, you may be using food as a compensation mechanism in the face of certain emotions, so it is advisable to seek expert advice.

In her book, Magda Gonçalves stresses: "Binge eating, or adding to food, is as disturbing a problem as another… Maybe even worse, because we have to eat to survive." However, contrary to what one might think, emotional hunger is not only triggered by …

(tagsToTranslate) Diets (t) Food (t) Emotional hunger (t) Emotional eating (t) Nutrition (t) Food (t) Health (t) Eating Disorders (t) Magda Gonçalves (t) Win the battle with food


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