What makes you a foodie? by Sharon Ryan #Imeology #DineJoziStyle @Radio2Day

Eating has never been, and never will be, simply about satisfying physical hunger.

We eat not only to quell a rumbling stomach, but also to deal with emotions.

From the moment a parent first offers a biscuit or sweet to comfort and quiet a child, food becomes a way of nourishing the soul as well as the body. From the earliest age food is used to celebrate, calm, relieve boredom or depression and to comfort in times of sadness and emotional distress. Such behaviour is not unusual. Having a piece of birthday cake when it would be anti-social to refuse, rewarding yourself with some chocolate or a few biscuits after finishing a daunting job, having a glass of wine or beer to be sociable, are all normal practices.

There are both psychological and physiological factors that dictate the relationship we have between food and emotions. Food is, of course, necessary to maintain life. But beyond that it is routinely connected with our idea of a social being. As humans, living in the civilized, modern world, we take great pleasure in eating. You can attest to this!

Research has shown that the brain releases b-endorphins, a natural pleasure chemical, when we eat our favorite foods. For some people that might be ice cream, for others it could be chicken enchiladas. So as far as food and emotions go, where the brain is concerned, what we eat isn’t as important as the fact that we love eating it.

So why is it that when depressed some people stop eating, lose their appetite altogether and lose weight in the process? And still for others, quite the opposite is true? Just what is that complex relationship we have between food and emotions? The truth is that many of us are stuck in the middle.

In a psychological sense we learn from an early age to expect palatable foods to positively influence and reinforce our emotional state. Thus our emotional state is highly susceptible to influence from the type and quantity of food we consume.

As man has grown more civilized and moved beyond the era when we ate simply to survive, our relationship with food has evolved along with us. Once upon a time we ate primarily to attain the essential nutrients necessary to survive. Now, we eat just as much for pleasure as anything else. Indeed many high fat and high sugar foods offer little in the way of essential nutrients. As foods go they contain very little that would make one naturally feel good. However we have learned to associate eating such foods that we find particularly tasty, with the expectation of an elevated mood.

Junk Food and Emotions
Throughout our lives we have come to associate high calorie, high fat, sugar-laden food with rewards. Birthday cakes, pumpkin pie, Halloween candy and Xmas cookies are all associated with special occasions and childhood rewards. We take this with us into adulthood, so that the double mocha frappacino with whipped cream becomes what we reward ourselves with for a stressful day.

On the other side of the mood influencing food coin is stress. As stated earlier some react to depression and extreme emotional states by losing their appetites altogether. Many more however, seem to go the other way.

Research has shown that bingeing on high fat, high sugar foods is a means of coping during times of extreme stress. In fact, research also shows that for many people, depressive symptoms often pre-date the onset of obesity. It’s possible that many of those who are overweight may have turned to food as a way to alleviate what might be diagnosed as clinical depression.

On the physiological front, the nutrients and food-based chemicals in the food we eat can influence both structure and function of nerve cells as well as the neurotransmitters that make them work. As much as our moods can dictate the foods we eat, the foods we eat can dictate our moods.

Something as simple as eating a good breakfast can go a long way towards increasing a general feeling of well being. It allows people to start the day off in a better frame of mind, and helps maintain focus and concentration. A simple wholesome breakfast consisting of fruit salad, a bowl of oatmeal and some green tea is far better for mood than a greasy egg and potato breakfast washed down by strong coffee, or worse, skipping breakfast altogether.

Similarly a lunch of salmon and salad can actually boost mental ability in the afternoon. This is in contrast to the post-lunch malaise many of us feel when we gorge ourselves on fast food or eat a much too large burrito, the digestion of which will often sap the remainder of our day’s energy.

Processed food and foods with refined sugar, as much as they may make us happy in the short term, will ultimately leave us feeling depleted, empty and wanting more, which in turn, makes us grumpy.

Imeology’s focus on food is deeper than size, weight and shape. It addresses the drivers of people’s food preferences, cravings and eating patterns.

As important, is the emotion with which food is prepared. Food and emotion, both energetic vibrational frequencies, are symbiotic. And the vicious circle the resulting behavior creates is incessant. Until you’re aware of what’s driving your behavioral emotional patterns.

I could write a book:) But for now, I hope this gives some insight into the depth of symbiosis between food and emotion, and the Imeological connection. The modality of Imeology, the Ladder of Life, helps one ascertain what their emotional drivers are, and empowers one to increase universal vibration simply through understanding the depth of the relationship between food and emotion.

Visit www.imeology.co.za.

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