Food is fuel for our bodies, and as much as it satisfies our hunger pains, it also has the power to influence our moods and mental state. Ever wondered why consuming chocolate makes you so happy? Simone Arendse, a clinical psychologist based in Somerset West in the Western Cape, breaks it down in this podcast episode.
Reaching out for comfort
Arendse explains that there are physiological and psychological reasons why weight gain and mental health are connected. The physiological reasons refer to when an individual is experiencing stress and therefore, they will have an increase in cortisone release in their body, which in turn increases the appetite of the individual.
Psychological reasons are when the individual is stressed, depressed or anxious and gravitates towards foods that will give them instant gratification, such as chocolates, junk food, etc. The gravitation towards these foods is because they act as a temporary numbing agent and offer relief from feelings of depression or anxiety.
It is clear that your food and emotional world are intimately intertwined and not having healthy boundaries can send you down a slippery slope of a bad relationship between yourself and food. The relationship between mental state and food can sometimes be a vicious cycle, says Arendse. People will eat because they don’t feel great and after eating, feel even worse, so they eat even more. Arendse cautions that this pattern increases feelings of stress, depression, diminished self-esteem, and poor body image.
In the podcast, Arendse also explains:
- How the vicious cycle can be broken and healthy and sound habits regarding food and emotions can be learned.
- Intuitive eating explores themes of listening to your body, doing away with restrictions/deprivation, and much more.
At the end of the day, what we eat and how we look do not define who we are. However, looking after our well-being, health and mental state is important and all part of honouring the vessel that carries who we are.
Listen to the full interview on the Health For Mzansi podcast:
Apple Podcasts: Click here to listen on any Apple device.
Google Podcasts: Click here to listen on Google Podcast.
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