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Emotional Eating


  Eating behavior is controlled by hunger and appetite. Hunger is the phenomenon through which our body tells us that it needs nutrition and energy. Appetite gives us the craving for our favorite foods and wants to satisfy our taste buds. Since we, the human have the tendency to start preferring satisfaction over needs, appetite and taste becomes a bigger driving force for eating, compared to hunger and need. We love to go for what we want, as opposed to what we need. It is generally observed that tasty and appetizing food has more fat, sugar, salt, spices and artificial flavorings. Most of this, with the exception of spices, that are usually rich in essential minerals, is harmful when consumed in more than a certain quantity. Fats, carbohydrates (sugars), and salt (sodium, the most basic nutritional element in human beings, chlorine) are essential nutrients, but become a hazard when consumed in large quantities. Large quantities just satisfy our taste buds, as opposed to satisfying the nutritional needs of our bodies.  Craving and hunger for food is the result of many complex and interacting factors. Nutritional and energy needs cause thirst for water and hunger for food. Sight, smell, hearing, reading and even touching can cause cravings for certain foods. Addictions and tolerance to certain foods and drugs can also cause excessive, continuous and gradually increasing need and cravings for certain foods and drugs, at certain intervals of time. Deprivation of foods and drugs, a person is addicted to, can cause serious withdrawal symptoms, that can be, sometimes, fatal. Deprivation of food and water causes starvation, which can cause serious damage to body and mind, specially in growing children, and may even result into death. Absence or lake of certain essential nutrients in food, can result into substance specific serious deficiency syndromes, which can be fatal in some cases. Deficiency of a certain nutritional substance in human body can cause cravings for that particular substance. It is very hard to differentiate these physical cravings from emotional cravings, that may be the result of factors, not important from survival point of view, and may cause health hazards, due to resultant over eating and excessive intake.  Beside hunger and appetite, eating and food intake, is also commonly driven by certain other emotional and psychological factors. A person may be tempted to eat to overcome and / or to deal with, his / her feelings of depression, excitement, anger, revenge, deprivation, beside many others. When emotions and other psychological factors are the driving factors behind a persons eating behavior, the resultant actions are usually devastating, because person can’t stop eating, gains weight, and faces serious risks and hazards related to physical health, and social and economic consequences. People with emotional eating issues, try to find comfort in eating during unpleasant and stressful circumstances, but get stuck into a perpetual cycle of  stress > eating > more stress > more eating > even more stress. This cycle never stops, so does the eating and hence the weight gain and resultant issues. What causes more damage is that during the binge emotional eating, people are more likely to eat large quantities of their favorite, high calorie, high fat foods. You must have noticed that donuts are a common choice on the way to work, or as a treat to coworkers, or as a treat from employer to employees. This is due to the fact that a very large proportion of people, hate their highly stressful jobs, which they are doing just to get a paycheck, and donuts are the sweet, tasty, high fat treat, they find to get comfort in. For many employers and managers, donuts are the easier way out, as opposed to the hard candy of taking real steps and measures to reduce the on job stress. It is said that stress is like the strings of a violin, too hard it would break, too loose it won’t play. Some stress is normal in life, but too much stress, negatively affects your health and even your efficiency and performance at work. People are more likely to make mistakes, sometimes costing millions of dollars in law suits, behave and interact adversely, provide poor customer service, resulting into loss of business, and ruin workplace environment, if working under excessive stress. Paradoxically, many employers and managers, try to improve performance, efficiency and business, by “tightening the strings”, but it just makes the situation worse. Unfortunately, we have built a culture, at most workplaces, where the running, fast and loud talking, and apparently worried workers are considered better workers, while, serene, easy going and calm and quiet workers are considered bad, slow and “slackers”. Many studies have shown that later type of people are overall more efficient, can work longer and harder, as they do not waste their stamina and energy on unnecessary running, talking and worries, and they carry out business practices that are more safe and rewarding for business, as they are less likely to make mistakes and more likely to provide better customer service, because they do not rush their customers and do not make them unhappy. Unfortunately, most workplaces have created an environment, in which coworkers, subordinates and employees are expected to unnecessarily over-burden and stress themselves, resulting into excessive law suits and loss of business, due to rushed and unsatisfied customers.  Worst part is that emotional eaters, eat too fast to actually enjoy the food. They just stuff it in to soothe themselves, and gain weight, as result of it. Basic idea behind binge, emotional eating is to distract ones self from the stressful situation, instead of bravely dealing with it. So, it does not resolve the basic issue, and makes you fat. Only thing you get is the added guilt, which makes the situation even worse. Now you are not just stressed, worried and over weight, but you have the guilt  of over eating and failure, too. The guilt about failure to keep up with healthy diet. This guilt may trigger even more eating and you are stocked in a perpetual cycle over eating > weight gain > guilt > over eating > weight gain.  Beside taking personal steps like, understanding emotional eating, keeping track of what you eat and when, getting support and therapy, we also need to work together to change the workplace culture. We need to understand as a coworker, boss or employer, the right concepts of efficiency, hard work and good, profit making business, that is able to hold good customers and employees and make them bring more, by providing patient and perfect service. We also need to realize, if in anyway we are contributing to this environment and culture, that is very damaging business, personal health and even families. The stress caused at work, affects negatively, the families of workers, too. Our unconscious and conscious negative contributions could be as simple as, targeting serene coworkers and rushing others. We need to spread the word too and make others understand, the true basics of a good and healthy workplace environment.

Eating Shop    


Navaid I. Syed is the owner and CEO of / ExcitingAds! Inc. He is a medical doctor and was born in Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan, on July 31, 1964. He graduated from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Sind, Pakistan, in 1990. He is Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, Philadelphia, PA, USA, certified.

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