As winter is fast creeping in its easy for anyone to tuck into warm winter fare, such as roasts with crispy potatoes, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and plenty more. This season is also known for a whole lot of weight gain as much as we don’t want to acknowledge it, the fact is that in winter is one time we all eat what we want as a form of keeping warm.
Until recently, this form of “comfort eating” was linked with negative feelings such s depression, boredom, anxiety, sadness, etc. However, a team of Dutch psychologists has found that those who overeat may do so because they are happy. Most emotional eating is related to negative moods. However, volunteers did not overeat in response to negative emotions but did overeat in response to positive ones. These findings could be of value for the treatment of obesity. This “happy eating” may even be a consideration as a risk factor for our current global obesity epidemic. The negative effect of emotional eating has already been recognized as a factor, as during times in stress, food has been seen to provide short-term comfort.
The distinction between what is considered a food or a drug is becoming increasingly difficult to define. From your brain’s perspective, food is a drug. Did you know that your personal flavour preferences (sweet, sour, salty, bitter) are linked with specific personality traits? Those who preferred more bitter foods described themselves as optimists, with a third liking sour foods displaying traits of liveliness and impulsiveness. Those who preferred vanilla or plainer flavours tended to be more extroverted, while those who listed chocolate as their favourite are considered to be more sensitive.
There is considerable evidence linking nutrition to the brain. The results confirm that a person’s psychological characteristics are linked to their preferences for tastes and flavours. The best way to beat binge eating this winter is to ensure loads of fresh veggies and seasonal fruits, along with immune-boosting spices such as garlic, chilli and ginger. Of course, the need for those comfort meals will still come calling but as long as you stick to the 80/20 principle (80% healthy, 20% treats), you will keep smiling the whole way through winter.
Author: Zanele Mash
Source: FH, May/June 2014