In the pursuit of healthier options, the link between food and mental health is highlighted by experts who warn that certain foods can exacerbate stress and anxiety.
Dr. Michelle DiBlasi, a psychiatrist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, emphasizes the addictive nature of certain foods, causing a drug-like dopamine rush in the brain.
Stress eating and emotional eating often interact with mental health, especially for those struggling with anxiety. DiBlasi notes that turning to food in such situations, particularly foods high in sugar, fat and salt, such as burgers, sodas and processed sweets can lead to genuine food addiction.
Cravings for these items can be overwhelming, making it difficult for individuals to stop consuming once they start.
DiBlasi advocates a critical first step: when the stress response kicks in, pause and listen to your body. Advising people to eat based on body cues rather than emotions, she emphasizes the importance of recognizing genuine hunger over other emotional states such as stress or boredom.
By reminding individuals that food is a source of fuel for clear thinking and physical strength, it aims to shift the focus from emotional triggers to physiological needs.
Identifying trigger foods is recommended, but DiBlasi advises against eliminating them completely. Instead, individuals should be careful about their relationship with such foods.
For example, if stress causes a craving for french fries, immediate prohibitions are discouraged to avoid increased craving and possible overconsumption.
Additional strategies for mindful eating include sitting down, eating slowly, and enjoying food. DiBlasi encourages people to avoid screen time during meals to foster awareness about what they’re eating.
The overall message is clear: understanding the complex relationship between food and mental health can empower individuals to make informed choices about their well-being.
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