When we think “weight loss”, we invariably associate the word “diet”, which is no longer recommended by health professionals. Now, they know that emotions can play a big role in the process. When you gain weight, “there are on one side the calories that you ingest, on the other the calories that you expend”, explains Émilie Godineau, journalist at the magazine Top Health. “If the intake is greater than the expenditure, there is weight gain”, she explains in Well done for you. However, “that’s not all,” says the journalist. The differences in metabolism play, but also the emotions, just like “what we live”.
Our feelings can influence our metabolism, she continues, “through nervous and hormonal secretions”: “It can promote appetite, storage and strengthen the attraction for certain pleasure foods, such as sugar for example.” Stéphane Clergé, psychiatrist, observed the impact of emotions on weight while treating patients with their depressive disorders: “I saw them lose weight when it was not the original goal, both in adults than in children.”
How do we know if our emotions are related to food?
Émilie Godineau recalls that eating a “half chocolate bar” at once, for example, can happen under the influence of an emotion. On the other hand, “if cracking, for fatty and sugary foods outside meals, is repeated several times a week, if you very quickly go down a packet of crisps for example, you have to ask yourself if there is not a problem”. And to add the definition of emotional eating: “Eating under the influence of emotions, in a recurring way and without being able to control oneself.”
Can a diet help?
Journalist Émilie Godineau assures us not. According to her, “if you are prone to emotional eating, it will not work” since “imposing restrictions on yourself will make the problem worse”. She also points out that “if you forbid yourself food”, it will lead to frustration, and potentially to guilt behind it. Two negative emotions, which can have an impact on weight gain.
What to do in case of emotional eating?
First of all, you can go to your usual doctor. The latter will be able to give you advice, and possibly redirect you to a specialist. The journalist from Top Health stipulates that it is better to refer to a health professional, either “a nutritionist, a dietician, or even a psychologist”, rather than to a diet coach or a nutritherapist, whose professions are not supervised. Including among professionals, Émilie Godineau recommends choosing a specialist “who has been trained in eating behavior, because unfortunately, some still prescribe diets”.
How to work on your cravings?
For psychiatrist Stéphane Clergé, even before starting therapy with the aim of losing weight, “we can start by doing well, by sleeping well, by thinking about our life, by seeing what suits us or does not suit us”. The specialist also advises to “identify sources of stress, reflect on your history”, but also work on your breathing.