Emotions and feelings are potent triggers for food choices. Food has been connected to various emotions and social interactions from a young age. Whether happy, sad, commemorating, celebrating, angry, lonely, etc., the fare is usually utilised to support or with these emotions and circumstances. Primitively, we humans do many things to seek pleasure or avoid pain. We can experience “pain” in hunger and seek joy in sustenance (food and drink) at a basic level. Now, consider that we avoid other forms of pain more related to emotions when emotions get involved. Because we have learnt that food or drink can provide pleasure, we use these substances for reasons beyond just starvation. We usually see ourselves stuck in a pleasure trap for meals, particularly those that activate the brainiac's reward centres. Certain food groups help deal with / heighten certain feelings. However, if we give in to the desire to eat that food group, the imbalance they create leads to weight gain, excessive weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and thyroid disorders.

FOODS THAT HEIGHTEN EMOTIONS

Certain food groups help deal with / heighten certain feelings. If we give in to the desire to eat that food group, the imbalance they create leads to weight gain, excessive weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and thyroid disorders. Here are examples of certain food items/ groups that help cope with different emotions.

  1. Starchy foods like potatoes high in carbohydrates help us elevate our mood as they boost the secretion of serotine in our brains that helps us feel calm.
  2. The same thing works with sweets. The brain's reward system, called the mesolimbic dopamine system, gets activated when we eat sweet foods.
  3. The brain's reward system, called the mesolimbic dopamine system, gets activated when we eat sweet foods.
  4. Consuming fibre also helps keep blood sugar stable after meals, linked to improvements in mood and anxiety.

The counterpoint is that a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars harms brain proteins. They are also bad for gut health. Therefore, the brain. Foods with beneficial bacteria help maintain a healthy gut environment or biome. A healthier microbiome decreases inflammation which, in turn, affects mood and cognition.  Thus, though certain food groups help us effectively cope with negative emotional states, they are supposed to be had in rationed quantities and not driven by feelings. Otherwise, they may lead to chronic diseases, also called lifestyle diseases. 

SOME FOODS TO AVOID / INCLUDE

Here are lists of specific food/drink items/groups that we need to avoid and those that we need to include in our daily diet:

FOODS TO AVOID

  1. Vegetable shortening: Vegetable shortening, often used for making cakes and pastries, contains hydrogenated oils. Unfortunately, consuming hydrogenated oils regularly can increase LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and lower HDL ‘good’ cholesterol.
  2. White flour-based cereals: These cereals are low in nutrition and high in refined carbohydrates, which can cause a drop and spike in blood sugar.
  3. Packaged butter-flavoured popcorn: Butter-flavoured popcorn is made using artificial butter flavouring, which can cause inflammation in the body.
  4. Instant noodles: The amount of sodium in instant noodles is exceptionally high, and they contain what’s called monosodium glutamate (MSG), which can increase hunger, causing us to eat more.
  5. Artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners can be more than your typical refined sugar due to their potential health impact and unknown risks, including cancer.
  6. Table salt: An excess sprinkling of table salt is avoidable as it is bleached and stripped of its natural minerals. It is high in sodium, which can cause inflammation.
  7. Energy drinks: Energy drinks are packed with artificial flavourings, which can cause much inflammation of the body and lots of sugar.
  8. Refined vegetable oils: Refined vegetable oil is likely to have been genetically modified and highly processed. As a result, they are high in omega-6 fatty acids, triggering inflammation.
  9. White rice: White rice is refined and processed. As a result, it can harm blood sugar levels and has even been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

FOODS TO INCLUDE

  1. Fruits & berries: Rich in fibre and powerful sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and low in carbs and calories, fruits and berries are must-includes in meals, preferably breakfast.  
  2. Eggs: Though previously demonized for being high in cholesterol, eggs are a rich source of protein. In addition, new studies show that they’re perfectly safe and healthy.
  3. Meat is the best protein source and is loaded with highly bioavailable iron and high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  4. Nuts and seeds: These foods are crunchy, filling, and loaded with essential nutrients that many don’t get enough of, including magnesium and vitamin E.
  5. Green tea/smoothies: Tea infusions with a slice of lemon or lime added or a nutrient-dense homemade golden milk or smoothies are rich in nutrients and may help cut back on added sugar.
  6. Vegetables: Nutritious vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms, onions and bell peppers are trusted sources of essential nutrients like protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals while limiting saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium.
  7. Sprouts: Sprouted grains reduce antinutrients, allowing more nutrients from the grains. As a result, almost all of the nutrients in sprouted grains are available for absorption in the body. Plus, antioxidant levels are higher in sprouted grains.
  8. Gluten-free foods: Nutrient-dense foods are naturally gluten-free, such as brown rice and quinoa. Include these instead of processed gluten-free foods.
  9. Greek yoghurt: Greek yoghurt is exceptionally high in protein, calcium, and vitamin B12, containing magnesium. It also includes beneficial bacterial cultures, making it a potential source of gut-friendly probiotics.
  10. Low-calorie sweeteners: Stevia and erythritol are low calories, calorie-free options that may be explored. Besides, they do not affect blood sugar or insulin levels. 

There needs to be a balance of carbs, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins in the daily meals. However, considering the damage that many of us have already done to our health, we need to tip the balance and bring it to a state of normalcy, where we can have balanced, healthy meals without feeling deprived.

All those on weight-loss journeys struggle as they need to avoid items that will slow down or stop weight loss. In those emotional moments, they either give in to the desire, promising themselves that they will be back on track tomorrow onwards or deal with depression, guilt and self-castigation with a sense of righteousness they steam on. 

Is there a way to deal with such problems and continue to feel right (and eat right) without sacrificing inordinate quantities of ‘comfort’ food? Certainly, yes. Bach Flower therapy is the simplest, safest and surest way of feeling right and thus be able to eat mindfully, eat right.  

FEELING RIGHT WITH BACH FLOWER THERAPY

Bach Flower therapy uses floral remedies that are essentially vibrational. As such, they do not contain any chemical or biochemical substance. Unlike other treatments, healing does not need any human intervention. Thus, this therapy is least invasive and pure. Done right, it can heal dysfunctional feelings, thoughts, and behaviours and the underlying blocks and beliefs that lead to dysfunctionality, thus healing individuals from the root. 

Here are some examples of Bach flower remedies that can bring you out of dependencies on food to heighten/cope with your feelings and help heal them otherwise.

  1. Depression – Wild Rose, Mustard
  2. Loneliness – Heather, Impatiens, Water Violet 
  3. Anger – Holly, Willow, Beech, Vine
  4. Fear and anxiety – Aspen, Cherry Plum, Rock Rose
  5. Guilt and shame – Pine, Crab Apple
  6. Unmet needs / deeper cravings – Chicory, Chestnut Bud
  7. Avoiding pain and agony – Agrimony

The above is an indicative checklist of remedies mapped to emotions they can heal. Feelings are intertwined and linked to more profound limiting beliefs lurking in the unconscious. This leads to the emotional make-up of each individual is unique. Thus, to get the best results and heal dysfunctional emotions that throw your dietary habits out of balance, from the root, it is recommended that a therapist is consulted and sustained therapy is carried out.

“Eat not that you enjoy but enjoy all that you eat.”

[With inputs from Indroneil Mukerjee, Founder - All That Bach & Program Director - ReLive( a Bach Flower therapy-based program for reversal of lifestyle diseases)]