Ribera’s therapy against emotional hunger

“Food should not be used as an emotional reliever.” This is the conclusion of the specialists in Mental health of the hospitals of Ribera health groupwhich warn of the increase in what has been called “emotional hunger” between patients who turn to food to hide problems and fears or to fictitiously fill a void of soul.

“Emotional hunger is understood as disordered eating that appears in situations that are stressful, of sadness, loneliness, anxiety or boredom”, explains Marisa Scribea psychologist at the Mental Health Unit of the Vinalopó University Hospital, who gives a very graphic example: “Packages of biscuits that end up in the mouth, with no real feeling of hunger.”

For Javier Carrenopsychiatrist at the Ribera Povisa hospital (Vigo), emotional hunger “is a new term that responds to old symptoms, such as anxiety and the biological correlate of the affection of the distress, capable of generating a large part of mental health problems”. In addition, he adds that “this situation between panic and uncertainty, which is anguish, leads us to seek solutions, and one of them is eat to fill that void”. And not to do it in a calm way, responding to a physiological instinct, but rather “the patient eats quickly and a lot, because his goal is to satisfy himself to get appeasement which is usually short”, he explains.

Nuria Lazarus, specialist in Mental Health and coordinator of the ED Program at the University Hospital of Torrejón, considers that the education received has a “very close” relationship with the desire to “regulate emotionally with food”. “Many times used as punishment or reward and in our culture, food is constantly present along with emotions: we celebrate with food and we accompany situations of sadness or loss with food”, he adds.

In the same line it is pronounced Lucia Fernandez, a health psychologist in Ribera Polusa, and one of the professionals at Minds, the online psychological therapy of the Ribera health group. “Food plays an important role in our culture, because is part of many social relationships and pleasant moments. That is why we also use it as an element to placate bad times or emotional discomfort, ”he explains.

Both Nuria Lázaro and Lucía Fernández clarify: “This type of situation does not necessarily have to be something negative, only when the main emotional regulation becomes only food.” “When emotional hunger has become pathological and leads to dysfunctional behaviorssuch as anxiety about eating, doing it compulsively or binge eating, it is time to consider how to remedy the situation, ”adds the Torrejón Hospital therapist.

How to treat or control emotional hunger?

All specialists agree on the basis of the most appropriate therapies to curb that emotional hunger. Carreño assures that “the cure for this type of anxiety usually comes from unravel the causes that have generated that anguish and, consequently, that failed remedy that is eating badly, urgently and frightened”.

For Nuria Lázaro “the first step is to understand that food is not the focus of the problem, but rather the cover”. “We must pay attention to bodily sensations, to differentiate physical from emotional hunger, and for this it is key to practice mindful eating”, he assures.

Lucía Fernández, member of the team of minds, the group’s online psychological therapy, explains that this program “includes a special itinerary to help curb emotional hunger.” “The tool helps the therapist to calculate the degree to which our emotions influence eating behavior and also includes records in which each patient can evaluate the degree of influence of their emotions in emotional food intake,” he explains. And it not only helps in diagnosis. “It also allows patients to learn tools to manage this problem and mindful eating stands out among them,” he adds.

The psychologist at the Hospital del Vinalopó agrees when pointing out mindful eating as one of the solutions to treat this problem. “It is important to carry out a conscious diet, because in this way we will learn to nourish ourselves through full attention, listening to our emotions”, he assures, while recalling that “this way of eating is considered one of the healthiest, because it allows listen to our body and our sensations”.

Although it may contain statements, data or notes from health institutions or professionals, the information contained in Medical Writing is edited and prepared by journalists. We recommend the reader that any questions related to health be consulted with a health professional.

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