Anxiety to food

Written by: Dra. Maria Isabel Beltrán Margarit
Published: | Updated: 15/11/2018
Edited by: Patricia Fernández Ramos

Separating feeding from the emotional world is impossible, as can be seen in the habit of snacking between hours or in compulsive binge eating. Although humans need to ingest nutrients for good health, they can often be eaten by anxiety or another emotional component.


Symptoms of anxiety eating

When analyzing the symptoms of patients in the consultation of the nutritionist who frequently eat for an emotional reason, we can observe:

  • Picoteo: serves to fill a void, to fill the mind with a pleasant activity.
  • Food compulsions: they are often gratuities that substitute pleasure and guilt in relation to their emotional sphere.
  • Bulimic crises: they are destined to fill a void without bottom, without hunger or pleasure due to an internal tension.
  • Depression: When faced with painful experiences as a loss do not go through the necessary mourning, feelings of anxiety and sadness can be installed in an eating behavior.
Eating by anxiety can be harmful to your health

The response to anxiety intake

The patient's response to these anxiety food intake processes will vary depending on the patient's own internal characteristics (his ability to face reality, the priority of the pleasure principle, his fixations or his ability to relativize), as well as their environment (the abundance and accessibility of these foods). Thus, the patient can react by stopping eating or otherwise eating indiscriminately, compromising in both cases their biological balance and their health.


Biological balance and homeostasis

The human body is composed of elements that need stable conditions to function effectively: maintaining these stable conditions is what guarantees and is achieved thanks to homeostasis.

The body is in homeostasis when it has the optimal composition of gases, nutrients, water and ions, as well as an ideal temperature and a correct volume for the health of its cells.


Stress alters homeostasis

Stress can arise from an external environment through stimuli such as noise, heat or lack of oxygen in heavily loaded environments; or it can also originate within the individual , for example by low levels of glucose, pain or unpleasant and distressing thoughts. When homeostasis is altered enough that this alteration is irreversible or long lasting, dysfunctions and diseases may appear. Thus, the regular supply of nutrients to the body is essential to maintain homostasy, and it is necessary to administer the different food groups. It will be the balance and interaction of the endocrine system and the nervous system which will guarantee homeostasis.


Consequences of poor diet

Poor nutrition can lead to states of malnutrition due to lack of nutrients, for example by not eating enough vegetables, fruits or dairy products, or also by ingesting large amounts of certain elements such as fats, pastries or alcohol. In addition, the stress itself will be affected by poor nutrition, producing a greater number of free radicals.


Antioxidants, body protection

Free radicals are formed within the metabolism process but are increased with certain factors such as the consumption of some drugs, pollution or alcohol. They are very unstable molecules that tend to react by damaging the atoms and molecules of their environment. The cells that usually damage most are proteins, lipids of the cell membrane and DNA. The body uses antioxidants to protect against attacks:

  • Antioxidant enzymes: magnesium, selenium, enzymes containing iron, zinc and copper
  • Antioxidant nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin E, B-carotene
  • Foods with more antioxidants: dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, red cabbage, walnuts, hazelnuts, seeds and fish oil

The person with an eating disorder or a stress episode should focus his / her diet trying to provide the necessary energy and get the nutrients that are lacking in greater quantity as there is a greater demand. And is that a proper diet will also depend on the functioning of neurons.


The effect of stress and feeding on neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are chemicals inside neurons, and through their interconnection they give rise to different functions such as sleep, speech, memory, mood or appetite. Specifically, serotonin is involved in eating behaviors and anxiety-depressive states.

Thus, through the food ingested the substances necessary to control the mental state are obtained. Tryptophan appears in the blood after digestion and absorption of proteins in the intestine. Then, the tryptophan that will reach the brain is the ratio between proteins and carbohydrates in blood for its subsequent synthesis of serotonin.

Therefore, an increase in the diet of Tryptophan would increase the amount of serotonin in the Central Nervous System, thus improving mood and mood, decreasing appetite and favoring rest.


Stress and depression Chemical or psychological origin?

The complexity of the human being makes it impossible to ignore either side, and one must look for what happens to the individual, where and when the discomfort began. Balancing food from a global point of view, taking into account the composition of the food, but also the texture, taste, smell and color of the food, to supplement the nutrients that affect the emotional process in a depressed patient, with anxiety or unmotivated, within a framework of listening to the person, beyond the patient.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dra. Maria Isabel Beltrán Margarit
Nutrition & Dietetics

Dr. Beltran Margarit is a recognized specialist in Nutrition and Dietetics which has its own private practice in downtown Barcelona. She is the author of several books, including "Diet PAN" or "Food and fibromyalgia." In addition to possessing a Masters in Mental Health and Consumer Sciences at the University of Barcelona, ​​he is an expert in Biological and Anti-Aging Medicine. She combines her teaching profession practicing as an associate professor at the Central University of Barcelona. He is a member of various national to international medical societies.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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