Appetite and emotions

There is no doubt that appetite is often strictly connected with the emotional state – our mental condition may significantly influence the things we want at the moment. The dependency is bidirectional: food which we eat influences our mood. Understanding the nature of this issue may help in efficient “self-therapy” in case of people who have problems with “emotional munching”, but it may be also helpful in a context of keeping the regime of slimming diet.

For a long time now, the individual nutrition preferences have been connected with the regulation of the level of emotions. In other words, you can say, that the present level of knowledge confirms that what we eat is connected with our mood. Besides, it's quite easy to notice – on many examples – that quite many people “eat stress”, and what's especially important, they do it by consuming chosen kinds of food what actually leads to (temporary) improvement of the mood.

The source of this dependency can be found in early years of our lives. Ever since we are born, eating food is connected with releasing emotional tension and reducing fear, what can be noticeable in case of breastfeeding. In further stages of life, the characteristic behaviour of parents and other close the the child people causes that products, such as sweets, are associated with prize and strengthen the feeling of satisfaction, which is a natural consequence of the influence of high doses of glucose on the brain.

In the recent years, many interested scientific studies have been published in which the authors show that experiencing negative emotions influences the individual choice of food, as well as the size and calorific content of eaten meals. Worse mental condition and bad mood increase the intake of food, especially sweets, fast food and other highly-processed food products. What's more, appetite for such products is independent from the feeling of hunger.

Analogically, positive emotional states lead to increased consumption of low-processed, healthy and valuable food. It is connected with such an intensive feeling of pleasure unrelated with eating food, that the body “sees no need” in strengthening this feeling, or even compensating it. Therefore, positive, happy and relaxed people feel smaller crave for sweets and junk food than frustrated, stressed and unhappy individuals. What's important, enthusiasts of very low-calorific diets also experience similar problems.

Conclusions

The way of eating is significantly connected with emotions, whereas, this dependency is bidirectional. People coping with the problem of “emotional munching” should consider improving their lifestyles, as they probably deal with excess amount of stress and negative emotions every day. It's worth taking care of the proper organisation of work and free time, which should be dedicated to relaxing activities, not only such as yoga or meditation, but also favourite forms of physical activity, realisation of passions or social meetings.

To cope with the negative effects of stress efficiently, proper length of sleep is also extremely important. People who sleep shorter than six hours usually cope with the everyday challenges much worse than others. Finally, the way we plan our menu is also very important. The more good-quality, richer in nutrients food products it includes, the better we will deal with the negative results of stress and the cravings for sweets and other unhealthy food products will be less disturbing.