Feeling & Eating
The emotional relationship with food
by Pepa Paiva
I was watching a video...
where it was said that “all the food is processed, the only food not processed is the one we cook at home...”, however, it is something that I already know, the phrase produced in me a moment of thinking, maybe internally a sort of emotion was being created...
There is nothing more healthy than cooking at home, I said to myself while watching a green salad that passed through the screen. My taste buds lit up which helped me retain the message very well.
Straight away my brain made the connection between healthy food, the green salad, the acid
citrus flavour and the hint of orange carrot that drives me through lightness, summer
memories, and positivism...
We are what we read, we are what we watch, we are what we dance, and so more like we are
what we eat!
Aren’t we a whole?...that is why we are holistic beings.
It seems that we can not separate ourselves from the external that influences our senses.
In fact, there are characteristics that foods have from the sensory point of view which
produces on ourselves emotional responses like the smell, view, temperature, etc.
Isn’t it a kind of journey when we try a bite of something that seems really pleasing to the
palate, or we take the same train but in a different direction when it is something bitter or not
very to our liking that finally produces rejection?
If we go beyond, testing, we can go easily to connect with certain emotions or memories from
A bowl of fruits can be a party of colours or a golden late can become a bath of warm, woody
and aromatic voyage, perfect for an autumn afternoon.
Just like the poetry that is in food is the emotional bond that exists with it.
Why food matters!
Have you noticed when we are sad or anxious, we tend to eat more [even] without appetite sometimes?
The hunger of certain countries contrasts with the abundance of developed countries. In these
last, food is characterized by excess; both in quantity and quality. It is consumed in excess
fat, salt, sugar, etc. Diet is thought to be related to 30% of cancers in industrialized countries.
These data make clear the relationship between food and well-being.
It is known the social issues that currently exist all over the world, whereby far it has been
proven that stress is the greatest cause of illness. At that moment is when we can start talking
about our emotional system and about what brought us here, the food we consume.
After reading a study made by the University of Barcelona, about food and emotions, I
realized the impact that stress produces on our relationship with food.
“Taking reality to exaggeration, almost it can be said that the world is divided between those
who die of hunger and those who die of eating too much (Rodríguez et. al., 2008)”.
Many times we eat to feel emotionally better.
So how we can help?
Having a proper diet, doing exercise, taking charge of our thoughts and choosing organic,
local but moreover, healthy food, that includes adequate natural cooking and preparation
processes to maintain the greatest amount of nutrients for a balanced diet and good digestion.
That is one of the best ways how we can help to regulate our emotions as our brain is
connected and is directly related to our intestines.
The psychiatrist James Green Blatt says that the intestine is a second brain.
In the same way, when we are hungry, food intake can change our mood, giving us calm and
a positive feeling, an excessively copious meal can cause negative feelings in the person.
...food can regulate emotions and emotions can regulate food...
Let's produce more serotonin!
Depressión and anxiety are taking protagonism in our society and one of the main causes is
the imbalance of serotonin production. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that acts as a
“mood stabilizer” and sends signals between your nerve cells. It is found mostly in the
digestive system, although it’s also in blood platelets and throughout the central nervous
But, here is the key, serotonin is made from the essential amino acid tryptophan and this
amino acid must enter your body through your diet! Cha-ching!!!
Some food like several fruits and vegetables might help increase serotonin levels as they
contain tryptophan like pineapples, tofu, nuts and seeds, bananas, kiwi fruit, plums, tomatoes, and many others. They go very good with a serving of healthy carbohydrates, like rice, oatmeal or whole-grain bread.
Serotonin somehow is a hormone that makes you feel good about yourself, stirring up
confidence and self-esteem.
Therefore I feel like saying...How crucial is this hormone for humanity, actually!
In my country, we say “In the variety is the spice”, we should not necessarily put aside what
we like to eat, but yes to find the balance in it, as in everything!.
A balanced diet is what has always been recommended and if we add to that, care about the
space where we eat, time to cook and eat our meals, or choose to eat where we know they
implement preparation procedures that are beneficial to health, support by buying local and
organic products, the eating time becomes an experience of contemplation, reunion and an
opportunity to recalibrate our emotions.
Mealtime is as important as sleeping time, a business meeting or going to the gym, as it is the
moment when we nourish the body with energy to keep going.
So at the end of the day, if we are what we eat and then change our diet we can change
ourselves, staying accountable for all the rest..who we are through thoughts, words that create
our reality, and what we read, opening up to new perspectives every day. Like that, wherever
road or storm we are crossing over, we will be able to see with a new lens the beautiful life
that is happening outside that can become as healthy as we want.