It is so often that we crave for our favourite food. The experience of eating our favourite dish is something else. I hope you all with relate to it. Whenever you have that particular dish weather be it pizza, burger, fries, rolls, or pasta etc. you have the urge to have it again. You also must have felt relaxed and satisfied after eating that food item. However whenever we crave for our favourite dish, we do not think twice before eating it and frequency of having that food is increased. However obesity is also a result of such habit.
How is Food Related to Emotion and Behaviour?
Let us understand what connection does food have with our emotions and how does it affect our health. To understand this better Dr. Suman Singh, Psychologist from Wellness Clinic, Pune will help us understand the concept. She exclaims that food is like a reward which our body gets. The food in terms of reward and gratification are connected to one another which produce dopamine. Dopamine is rewarding to the brain. Hence whenever you have your food especially when you like that food, you brain sends signal of repetitive behaviour due to which you tend to eat it again and again.
The reward (food) overrides the signals of hunger and satiety which in turn makes you obese. Overeating and obesity are some results of gratification toward food. They are biological factors which engage in both central and peripheral systems in bi-directional manner which evolves more emotions towards that food item when you are obese. Therefore whenever you are upset or unhappy, eating your favourite food makes you release that stress and negative emotion. That is the basic relationship between food, emotion and obesity.
Effects of Mood On Health
Your mood regulates your eating habits and consumption of food. Individuals engage in different activities to regulate their mood. But the interaction between mood, emotion and food is complex which is hypothesized that by regulating their food choices they are able to regulate their emotion.
- Certain types of food are preferred by individuals while going through a certain phase and psychological condition. This could be the cause of brain activity and reward centres present in the brain.
- Positive feedback loops can result in increase in your diet and appetite which can gradually lead to obesity.
- This can in some cases be dangerous because in drug abuse cases the person similarly feels the same response from the brain and it gives him a rewarding pleasure. Highly palatable food also activates same kind of brain cells which cause obesity.
- Dopamine which acts directly on reward and pleasure mechanism can affect both mood and food intake supporting the link between psychology and eating behaviour.
How Can Mood of a Person Determine Obesity?
Mood disorders are often associated with abnormal eating and variable behaviour. It can lead to obesity because of the following reasons-
- Depression and anxiety are relatives of obesity
- Impairment in central nervous system is connected to obesity that affects the mental and physical health of the person.
- Depressed mood is also linked towards abdominal obesity and poor diet. They may feel contradictory but both cases are possible.
- Obese people are at a higher risk of having depression and diabetes.
This shows hoe food, obesity and behaviour are interlinked with each other and have common base. Mood or behaviour is related towards obesity but on the same hand can also cause malnourishment.
Types of Link Between Food, Emotion and Obesity
Bi-Directional Link of Food and Emotion
Mood is result process of psychological arousal in absence of stimuli which can remain for around several minutes. Emotions are response towards a reinforcing stimulus which lasts for a very short term. Although study shows that common emotions such as anger and joy have stronger influence on appetite of a person. Obesity causes inability to perceive their psychological behaviour and state of emotion which gives them emotional comfort.
Stress and Food Intake
There is a close relation between mood, food and stress. Stress affects a person feeding proportion which increases or decreases the amount of food intake. Chronic stress can be a major player in determining the increase or decrease in rewarding food which leads to obesity or diminished appetite. This shows that there is a certain neurological process the way we make our choices in food and patterns of eating.
Mood and Food Intake
State in which your mood is, determines the effect of anxiety and depression in energy metabolism. Overeating food and obesity are associated with depression and anxiety. Both the condition endocrine and metabolism are exacerbated in depression. People have their rewarding food to elevate their depression and negative feeling. Although the food does release the negative emotion but in long term process it increases chronic consumption of calorie-rich food which results in obesity and other health problems which occur because of obesity.
Food Preference and Mood
You must have heard about the saying “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”. People sometimes take this too seriously. The food actually directly influences out brain function and has an effect on our energy levels as well as performance. Thus mood can also affect our food choices and performance.
Food, emotions and obesity are interrelated to each other. They are connected in a way that when you have the eagerness to have something in particular it is because of the emotional state you are in. The food relaxes the brain and sends positive signals regarding the food which in turn overrides the hunger and makes you obese. Similarly obese people are more sensitive to emotions and hence to feel better they eat more which relaxes their mood. This cycle goes on and on and hence they all are connected.
Read More Articles on Mind and Body