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A Look at the Relationship Between Food and Emotions

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Binge eating disorders are estimated to affect as many as 2.8 percent of American adults in their lifetime, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, and there is a great deal of misinformation out there about this most common eating disorder. One common misconception is that people who have BED just eat too much, too often, but there are far deeper problems at work than just eating too much, just like there are far deeper problems than not eating for someone who may have anorexia nervosa and need a day treatment program. Take a look at some of what you should know about the relationship between food and emotions to gain a better understanding of how hard eating disorders can be to treat.

Food plays a role in contentment.

It is no big secret that eating food makes us feel better as humans because we actually need food to survive. However, food can also play a huge role in how content we feel when we do eat. This is such a true fact that there are certain foods people gravitate toward when they have a need to feel more content. One study done on a group of subjects showed that they felt more content after eating a high-fat, or high-calorie food, but the participants who were given a lower-fat, lower-calorie food felt much less fulfilled and happy when they were done eating.

For people who suffer from some types of eating disorders, it is discovered through outpatient eating disorder treatment that binging on certain foods or certain types of foods brings about an almost a euphoric feeling. The reasoning behind this is easier to understand when you understand how big a role food can play in feeling content in the mind. It is through binge eating disorder recovery that people who experience this learn how to do other things to trigger their feel-good or reward system besides food.

Some foods have emotional links.

You may look at eating as just eating, but when you look at what you eat when you eat it, and what you are feeling when you eat it, it can show you the way food interacts with brain chemistry and your emotions. Some foods help you feel emotionally better, so you may crave them when you are feeling down or depressed. Think about trademark “comfort foods” and consider what imagery comes to mind or what your mind tells you that you should eat that would exude a feeling of comfort. For some people, it may be mashed potatoes, while others may dream up chocolate or their grandma’s specialty pie.

The truth is, you start to develop emotional links with food from the time you are born. Infants are known to get excited when they smell their mother’s milk or seem more at ease if they are still feeding even though they are satisfied and full. Food consumption is linked with memories in the brain because natural associations between certain things and good emotions form in the earliest stages of life. It is not uncommon for some individuals who need mild eating disorder therapy in the form of day treatment programs to take a lot of time discovering their own emotional links with certain types of food. Surprisingly, many people only discover these links through treatment and therapy.

Eating Disorder Treatment at Oliver-Pyatt Centers

Binge eating disorder recovery and other eating disorder recovery processes are often complicated because individuals have different relationships with food that have to be addressed. For example, someone with anorexia nervosa may have deep-seated fears of certain types of food so they completely avoid them. On the other hand, a client who comes into an eating disorder residential treatment center with bulimia nervosa may be so obsessed with a particular food that they binge on it and quickly purge it from their system.

The variances between different individuals and their emotional links to food are partially environmentally shaped, which means every plan of treatment has to be built to certain degrees for the individual client. At Monte Nido, we make it our goal to treat every client who comes to us. Whether it is for one of our day treatment programs, our outpatient eating disorder treatment programs, or for an inpatient eating disorder stay, clients are granted full, compassionate attention in an individualized fashion. Reach out to us to speak with a compassionate representative if you or a loved one needs help with an eating disorder.

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