Since we were snowed in Thursday and Friday, I was not able to share the educational program titled, “Emotional Appetite: The Food and Mood Connection” so I will emphasize the important points in my column. There is no doubt that your mood has a lot to do with many of the foods you crave when you are not physically hungry. Eating to feed an emotion instead of physical hunger is considered emotional eating. Stress, depression, loneliness, frustration, anxiety, and anger are just a few emotions that can trigger cravings. Although boredom and procrastination are not necessarily considered emotions, they are the most common reasons people eat when they are not hungry. Food can be used to pass time or put off doing things.
Several chemicals in the brain that affect appetite also affect moods. For example, stress causes an elevation in brain chemicals that increase the desire for fatty foods and carbohydrates. Stress also tends to magnify cravings; therefore some stressed people may eat a lot of chocolate because it has carbohydrates and fat in it. Without getting too technical we need to learn how to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Sometimes just waiting 10 to 15 minutes to see if a desire for a particular food goes away is a good first step.
Here are a few tips you can try if you suspect you are experiencing emotional hunger.
· Exercise. The endorphins released during exercise will improve your mood.
· Call a friend.
· Read a book.
· Do some light cleaning.
· Go for a short walk.
· Plan an instrument or listen to music.
· Brush your teeth – the fresh minty taste of toothpaste will likely deter many sweet-related cravings.
· Drink water – some people mistake thirst for hunger.
· Spend time with your family or friends.
· Write down your thoughts and feelings.
Feel free to stop by the Extension office for the fact sheet from the program. I will also have it available at my March program titled, “Go, Slow and Whoa Foods.” That program is set for Thursday, March 14th at noon at the Great Bend Activity Center and Friday, March 22nd at 1:00 p.m. at the Great Bend Senior Center.
Hopefully the snow will be melting soon and you can get signed up for the 2013 Walk KS program. The packets are ready and much of the registration may be completed on-line. The t-shirt colors this year are iris blue or military green. Registration for Walk KS is $3 per team member and the shirts are $8 and up depending on the size ordered. Give me a call if you have any questions.
Donna Krug is the Family and Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. You may reach her at (620)793-1910 or firstname.lastname@example.org