mental health counselling sussex

Healthy Food and Emotional Regulation


Do you ever find yourself being an emotional eater? When you’re feeling stressed or upset, do you find yourself reaching for the crisps and biscuits? If so, you’re not alone. Most of us deal with the challenges of life by turning to comfort foods.

The problem is that these foods only provide us temporary good feeling giving our mood a short-lived boost. However, we come crashing down again as the effect quickly wears off. We may even experience feelings of shame and guilt, leading to a vicious cycle of more unhealthy eating, more uncomfortable feelings, more eating. This problematic cycle can lead to weight gain, health issues and even certain chronic conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Your Brain on Comfort Foods

We are what we eat is a true statement, especially when it comes to our brain functioning. When life throws challenges, we need our brains to work optimally to figure out the best way to deal with our circumstances and process emotions. The trouble with reaching for comfort food is, they are harmful to this process.

Think of your brain like the engine of a car. Your brain also needs the correct type of petrol or fuel. To meet the needs of a demanding life, it requires nourishment loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These nutrients feed your brain and protect it from the potential effects of stress.

Studies have shown a direct link between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function? Research has also highlighted that poor diet can contribute to a worsening of symptoms such as depression.

The bottom line is, while your instinct at that moment may be to reach for comfort foods, making better food choices will help your physical and mental health. It will be hard at first, but being aware of this can help to form good habits over time.

If you would like support in this process, please reach out for help. I am seeing clients online and in my office in Hove.

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