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Food to lift your mood

With eating disorders having increased dramatically during the pandemic, one is left to wonder if emotional eating be done favourably?

Himanshu Taneja Published 17.05.21, 02:55 AM

Sourced by the correspondent

Do you often find yourself ordering junk food or drawn towards that last piece of chocolate you thought you could resist? Chances are you must be eating due to emotional reasons or you have certain mood swings. As per a recent research document published, Emotional Eating or EE represents a failure to discriminate physiologic hunger sensations from the desire to use eating as a strategy for managing negative emotions. Thus, eating behaviour becomes a way to distract or escape from aversive affective states. The quantity of food that is consumed is the primary difference between emotional eating and binge eating. Like most emotional symptoms, emotional eating is thought to result from several factors rather than a single cause.

It’s been a tough year for everyone, both mentally and physically, compounded by the fact that most people were home-bound, for obvious reasons. This has resulted in a distinct shift in eating and sleeping patterns for all. The prolonged work from home scenario makes the correlation between mood and the right intake of food come alive with sufficient vigour. In the last year, we all had those days when we wanted to eat comfort food despite having a full meal or experienced major cravings for certain food types when we were stressed. We have all been through the phase of emotional eating and know how hard it is to resist.

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Emotional eating or linking food to your mood is not a new phenomenon. Certain foods have shown to improve overall brain health and even mood disorders. For instance, sugar in chocolate may improve mood since it’s a quick source of fuel for your brain. Comfort foods that are high in starch are usually the trigger points for most to indulge in emotional eating. In fact, your emotions can become so used to the eating habits that you unknowingly reach for a treat whenever you’re angry or stressed without even thinking about what you’re doing. Having said that, we should not link emotional eating to only negative feelings. It may also be positive in nature. For instance, we automatically feel like eating something sweet when we are happy or gorge on junk food when we are on a vacation.

Any kind of emotional eating, positive or negative, has always been directly associated with an unhealthy diet. Occasionally eating your favourite food as a mechanism to deal with your different mood swings is not necessarily a bad thing. But you might get stuck in an unhealthy diet cycle if emotional eating is your topmost coping mechanism. The problem of emotional eating resulting in bad dietary habits can be resolved if you understand your mood diet. The concept of a mood diet marries the daily nutrient requirements with the unconscious food cravings that emerge from fluctuating temperaments. Keeping this concept in mind, Marriott On Wheels takes the lead to create some delightful cuisines that satisfy your mood-related food craving while you are in the comfort of your home.

Angry/Irritated

Organic Spinach and Kale Salad, Pumpkin and Sesame seeds: Magnesium-rich ingredients like spinach, pumpkin seeds help in getting better sleep .

Banana Walnut Cake: Walnuts are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for you as your body can’t produce them on its own.

Pan-Seared, Wild-caught Salmon: Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a great option to change your mood.

Fried Corn-Fed Chicken: Chicken is a rich source of dopamine that can help calm the nerves.

Romantic/Excited

Locally Sourced Figs, Green Asparagus Salad: Figs are high in amino acids, which boost stamina and increase libido. The high amount of vitamin E in asparagus can increase both blood and oxygen flow.

Hass Avocado Hummus, Crispy Pita, Truffle Condiments: Avocados contain high levels of folic acid, vitamin B9 (which provides the body with more energy), and vitamin B6.

Dark Chocolate & High pH Berry: Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a stimulant that elicits excitement and a sense of well-being.

Stress/Overworked

70% Callebaut Dark Chocolate Mousse: Chocolate has a high tryptophan content, which the body utilises to turn into mood-enhancing neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the brain.

Strawberry Salad, Rocket Leaves, Chia Seed Vinaigrette: Fruits are high in vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients that can help lower stress hormones. Chia seeds are also a good source of omega-3s.

Chia Chamomile Pudding, Iranian pistachios: Nuts are a good source of magnesium and chamomile tea is soothing and helps improve sleep.

Cheerful/Happiness

Blueberry & Nut oat bake: Fibre helps slow your digestion of carbs, allowing for a gradual release of sugar into the bloodstream to keep your energy levels stable.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad: High content of flavonoids in quinoa are known to have an anti-depressant effect on people.

Dum Gosht Biryani pot: Biryani is always enjoyed for its wholesomeness and complete flavours.

Anxiety/Depression

Walnut crusted fish: Walnuts are one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids and numerous studies have demonstrated how omega-3 fatty acids support brain function and reduce symptoms of depression.

Mac n Cheese: Carbohydrates are linked to the mood-boosting brain chemical serotonin. Experts aren’t sure, but carb cravings sometimes may be related to low serotonin activity.

Blueberry Banana Smoothie bowl: Banana has high levels of potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin B2 which helps in maintaining the blood pressure and keeping your energy levels up.

Instead of getting worried about emotional eating, try to channelise your emotions in a positive manner through mindful eating. Adding the above elements to your diet won’t have an adverse effect on your body and at the same time will let you indulge.

The author is the culinary director, South Asia, Marriott International.

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