Emotional Eating – An Ayurvedic Perspective
“Food nourishes the body; love nourishes the Soul.”
– Dr. Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Physician
Overeating may occur occasionally and often due to various reasons. However, overeating often takes place because of emotional factors. From an Ayurvedic perspective, when there is undue stress or other emotional factors this can increase the uncoordinated movement of ‘prana vata’ within the mind. This increased movement of prana can then stimulate the gastric fire [Agni] – which produces the “experience of hunger”. However, this experience of hunger may not actually be real but rather an emotional craving for nourishment [i.e. love].
What Am I Hungry For?
In a recent book, ‘What Are You Hungry For?’, Dr. Deepak Chopra creates a vision of weight loss based on a deeper understanding of why people overeat. Dr. Chopra explains the underlying reason for overeating often is – “because they are trying to find satisfaction and wind up using food as a substitute for real fulfillment.”
Dr. Deepak Chopra – How To Break Free Of Emotional Eating
Practicing Body Awareness. “Every time you’re about to put food into your body, ask yourself – ‘Am I hungry right now? How hungry am I? What am I hungry for?’ Just by doing that, you break the reflex.” – Dr. Deepak Chopra
Real Hunger vs. False [Emotional] Hunger
Before we can break free from the cycle of emotional eating, we first need to learn how to distinguish between emotional and true physical hunger. Ideally, when the digestive fire is stimulated with an empty stomach, a message is sent by prana to the appetite center in the hypothalamus within the brain – this stimulates the sense of “true hunger”. However, factors such as stress, fear and anxiety may create uncoordinated movements of prana within the mind which can create a false sense of hunger – thereby, using food as a substitue for real fulfillment.
Signs Of Real Hunger:
- appears when the previous meal is fully digested
- comes at a regular time each day
- lightness in the stomach
- tongue is clean
- appetite so strong that any food tastes good
- appetite increases after going for a walk
Source – Dr. Vasant Lad, Textbook Of Ayurveda
Tips To Overcome Emotional Eating
- Light walk. The next time you have an emotional craving for food, simply go for a light walk. A brisk walk for 20 minutes while breathing in fresh air often provides just what’s needed to tame wild food cravings.
- Express your feelings. While allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable emotions can be scary – it is important to release any blocked energy in the solar plexus [i.e. Manipura chakra]. Manipura chakra is located around the navel in the area of the solar plexus and is a source of personal power and governs self-esteem, and the power of transformation. The Manipura chakra also controls metabolism and digestion. Therefore, allow your life to become more fulfilled by opening yourself up emotionally.
- Yoga and meditation. Another way to help balance and alleviate any obstructions in your chakras is simply to consider yoga and meditation. At the heart of both yoga and meditation is balance. Although you’ve tried to resist emotional cravings in the past and may have failed believing that your willpower just isn’t enough. The truth is, that you have more power over your cravings than you think. Take time to sit quietly and witness the power of being still and balanced.
CHEATING YOUR CRAVINGS
“Eating 1 ripe banana, chopped up with 1 teaspoon ghee and a pinch of cardamom, is effective for pacifying emotional, obsessive eating habits.” – Dr. Vasant Lad
‘ The Complete Book Of Ayurvedic Home Remedies’
Gurmar – The Sugar Destroyer
Gurmar is one of the most prevalent ayurvedic herbs for diabetes. Also known as Shardunika the name Gurmar translates to ‘destroyer of sugar’ and thereby suggestive of its properties as being an effective herb for balancing blood sugar levels.
CLICK HERE – To Learn More About Gurmar
Got Sugar Cravings?
- Ask yourself: Am I stressed out?
As discussed above – when you’re under pressure, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which signals your brain to seek out rewards.
- Ask yourself: Have I been eating less than usual?
If you’re eating fewer than 1,000 calories a day or restricting an entire food group (like carbs), you’re putting your body in prime craving mode.
- Ask yourself: Am I getting enough sleep?
In a University of Chicago study, a few sleepless nights were enough to drop levels of the hormone leptin (which signals satiety) by 18% and boost levels of ghrelin, an appetite trigger, by about 30%. Those two changes alone caused appetite to kick into overdrive, and cravings for starchy foods like cookies and bread jumped 45%.