It may seem ironic to turn to nutritional treatments for emotional overeating – after all, isn’t the problem too much eating? Why would you want to look at more foods you need to eat? But more and more experts are seeing the connection between nutrition and emotional overeating.
The fact is, when you overeat in response to emotions, you may not be eating the healthiest foods. You become full – even sick – on junk foods, and there’s no room left for the good stuff. It’s common knowledge that you do need the right nutrients to be healthy, and if those foods are not being eaten, then it’s more a matter of quality than quantity.
Another aspect of emotional overeating may be nutritional deficiencies – and the deficiencies might bring on cravings. The theory is that the body craves certain foods in response to a need – in the case of emotional overeating, the need is emotional but it may also be physical. For example, a craving for ice cream may signify your body’s need for calcium.
Here are some vitamins and minerals that, according to research, are implicated in the management of emotional overeating.
This vitamin’s effect on mood is well-documented, and is even suggested for people who suffer from certain depressive disorders, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Foods high in Vitamin D include:
- Cod liver oil
- Sockeye salmon
- Soymilk (fortified with Vitamin D)
- Cow’s milk
Remember that Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so sources with healthy fats, such as fish, may be absorbed better by the body.
These important vitamins help increase energy levels and manage water retention. Foods with B vitamins include:
- Lean beef (B12)
- Dark leafy greens (kale, broccoli, spinach)
Magnesium and Calcium
This is a powerful pair – many supplements put them together in one pill or capsule. These minerals are important for managing muscle and nerve tension. Interestingly, when these minerals occur naturally in foods, there is usually a higher proportion of magnesium to calcium, whereas supplements generally have more calcium than magnesium. Foods include:
- Nuts, especially peanuts, hazelnuts, and pecans
Zinc has been shown to have a profound effect on appetite and cravings, and many people with eating disorders are deficient in this mineral. Zinc is found in the following foods:
- Shellfish, especially oysters and crab
- Beef, particularly beef shanks
- Garbanzo beans
Making deliberate, conscious choices about what you do eat can go a long way toward managing emotional overeating. Plan your meals and make a shopping list, and be proactive about meeting your nutritional needs.