What is emotional nutrition

Emotional Eating: How Feelings Affect Our Diet

Mobil-e: Dr. Vergin, what makes healthy eating so difficult?

Dr. Kathrin Vergin: First of all, it has to be said that many people today have a wealth of knowledge about healthy eating - in theory it is therefore clear what belongs on the plate and what we should keep away from. The traps are lurking everywhere, however: We have a huge range of groceries virtually everywhere and at any time of the day and we just have to grab it. It is often not clear to us whether we are actually hungry or simply access it out of appetite or boredom. Then there are the many habits and automatisms: a birthday child brings cake to the office and of course you take it. The colleagues go to the canteen at lunchtime and of course you go with them. And having a bag of chips on our laps in front of the TV in the evening somehow becomes part of it. Of course, we actually know that all of these snacks are not good for us. But knowing that and changing it are two different things.

Mobil-e: Does more discipline help with a healthy diet, especially if you want to lose weight?

Dr. Kathrin Vergin: An important keyword! It is very important to me to make it clear that abandoning emotional eating habits does not always have to do with discipline. On the contrary: Those who have already had several diets are often extremely disciplined. But: Dieting and weight loss shakes do not help you maintain your comfortable weight over the long term. Nobody wants to follow a strict eating plan for the rest of their life. And so, after the diet, which you followed through with great discipline, you slip back into the old patterns and fall into the same traps as before - at least if you don't know it and can't navigate around it in a targeted manner.

Mobil-e: To what extent do feelings influence our eating behavior?

Dr. Kathrin Vergin: Many different factors play a role when it comes to emotional eating. All those affected are concerned with satisfying an inner hunger with food. The reasons and characteristics are very different. Many are certainly familiar with the phenomenon of reaching for chocolate when you are lovesick - it is supposed to give us comfort in our grief. Or we have passed a difficult test and are rewarded with a menu at the fast food chain. Often, however, childhood traumas also play a role, for example when your parents warned you not to eat so much so as not to become “fat”. Despite this, it can lead to the fact that we hit hard and become overweight in the long run, even though the parents wanted to prevent that. I also deal with people who were often lonely as a child and who compensated for this feeling with food - here food served as a substitute for love. Of course, you don't just shake off such deeply rooted experiences and memories later. We are not aware of many of these connections today. In my coaching sessions, I first work with clients to identify such patterns. Once you have taken this step, it is often a great relief for you.

Mobil-e: Why is it so important to understand the reasons for your eating habits?

Dr. Kathrin Vergin: The social pressure to be slim is pretty great these days. Many people who come to me have been struggling unsuccessfully against extra pounds for a long time and are accordingly unhappy when it just doesn't work out to lose weight. The frustration that results from the failed attempts to lose weight often leads to those affected eating even more - according to the motto: It doesn't matter now. This in turn increases their anger at themselves, and many feel like failures. The result: They become even stricter, prohibit themselves even more, fail to adhere to the strict prohibitions in the long term and end up with the next frustration meal. A cycle that makes many people very difficult. The fatal thing is: You are so caught up in it that you can hardly unravel the real reasons for your eating habits on your own. When do I actually eat? Why do I eat in these situations? Finding out about this with the help of a food diary, for example, offers an unbelievable number of starting points for getting a more relaxed relationship with food in the future - and, crazy enough, the pounds often fall off all by themselves.