Let’s start by looking at our body like a car that need the highest quality of fuel to function. Eating healthy and high quality foods which have all the right minerals and vitamins we need to nourish our bodies helps us and protects our brain from oxidative stress, which is when the free radicals our body creates when it uses oxygen, these free radicals damage cells. Diets that are high in refined sugars, preservatives, etc. are harmful to our brain they cause inflammation and oxidative stress. There are countless studies today that show a direct relationship between diets that are high in sugar and poor or worsening brain functions along with worsening of symptoms of mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter present in our body, 95% of serotonin is produced in our gastrointestinal tract, it is lined with millions of neurons which means that this tract not only helps you in digestion but also helps to form your thoughts and emotions. Serotonin helps to regulate our sleep, mood, hunger, and even pain receptors.
This explains why many people use food as a coping mechanism when they are stressed, it can occur knowingly or unknowingly. For example, when you are sad, you crave your favorite comfort food. It is because of serotonin that eating gives you temporary relief of your emotions. You need to understand your relationship with food if you find yourself being over indulgent. You must find out what is causing you to turn to food as a solution. Many people turn to food because it is easily accessible and a quick fix, in addition to that it helps them feel as though they are in control even if it’s just for a few moments.
These behaviours can lead to much deeper disorders like anorexia or binge eating disorder which is why it is imperative to find these patterns if you have them in order to find out the root cause. The best thing you can do is make yourself aware of what you are eating. If you are craving unhealthy foods, remove all unhealthy foods from your home so that it will be less appealing to engage in unhealthy food habits. In addition to that, you can speak to someone in your life or get professional help to cope with these problems before they worsen.
The relationship you have with food is a very delicate and personal one. It is hard to make a distinction between eating because you want to, and eating because you need to. However it is good to let yourself indulge once in a while but falling into the habit of turning to food will be detrimental for your body, mind, and self esteem over the years. The best thing you can do to start is to ask yourself how certain foods make you feel after eating them?
How do you feel after one hour of eating a pizza versus eating a healthy balanced meal? Gage not only your physical sensations but also your emotional and mental sensations. Odds are after eating the pizza you will feel fatigued and irritable and slow which will aggravate symptoms like anxiety, depression, stress etc. whereas after a balanced meal of proteins, veggies, carbs you will feel energized, refreshed and more equipped to deal with the happenings of your life.