How to Recognize and Stop Emotional Eating

How to Recognize and Stop Emotional Eating | Dr. Ali GhaharyRegardless of what it’s caused by (such as work, school, or personal relationships), stress is something that affects us all. For some, stress can be a minor and infrequent occurrence, while for others it can be a reoccurring, daily problem, resulting in serious mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

The most important thing when it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety is not only identifying the triggers, but also being able to recognize how it affects us. For example, some individuals under stress may want to find some downtime – whether it’s keeping to themselves by finding a quiet room and reading a book, or taking a vacation. This is known as a cooling-off period. For others, dealing with stress isn’t as simple. One of the most common ways that individuals will self-treat their stress is through food – otherwise known as emotional eating. Food isn’t just something we consume to satisfy our hunger. Food can also mean comfort and can help relieve those feelings of anxiousness, sadness and/or loneliness. That being said, emotional eating doesn’t actually solve anything. Not only does the stress remain, but we also tend to feel guilty for eating – especially if we overeat, which is also easy to do when you’re under a lot of stress.

Regardless of how tempted you might be to try and relieve your stress through eating your favourite candy bar, greasy French fries, pint of ice cream or other favourite food item, it’s important that you find other, healthier alternatives to dealing with your stress. The best way to do this is to practice mindful eating; but in order to do that you first need to be aware of what’s happening around you or to you to cause the stress and therefore make you want to eat your emotions away in the first place. Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests asking yourself the following questions:

• Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed compared to other times?
• Do you eat even when you’re not hungry/already feel full?
• Do you tell yourself that eating will make you feel better?

If the answer to any of those questions is “yes” then you have a problem. That being said, by answering yes to those questions, you’re also aware of the fact that the problem exists, which means it will be easier for you to come up with other coping mechanisms. Also remember that emotional hunger is something that tends to come on overwhelmingly sudden, makes you crave specific comfort foods, doesn’t actually leave you feeling satisfied, and often leads to guilt and shame for overeating – all completely different feelings compared to those of someone with normal eating habits.

Once you’ve identified these issues, now comes the hard part. Finding those healthier alternatives. Before you eat, ask yourself why you’re eating. Are you picking up food because you’re upset or because it’s lunch and you know you need to have 3 well-balanced meals? Secondly, pay attention to what you eat. As mentioned, comfort foods are commonly associated with emotional eating, so always make sure you’re choosing foods that are healthy and nutritious.

Failing to follow these steps can eventually result in serious eating disorders. If you suffer from severe stress, anxiety or other mental health issues, never hesitate to reach out for help from a trusted medical professional.

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Menopause

Menopause | Dr. Ali GhaharyMenopause, often referred to as “the change of life,” occurs when a woman has not had a period for approximately 1 year, therefore marking the end of their childbearing years. Typically, menopause affects women around the age of 50, but can occur in women as early as their mid-40s as well as those who are already well into their 50s. Every body acts and reacts differently. Most of the time menopause isn’t something to worry about as far as your health is concerned, as it is a natural part of the aging process. However, it can be a startling transition for some, so it’s important to have a general idea as to what you can expect.

First, it’s important to know what actually causes menopause. Menopause is caused by a change in a female’s hormone and reproductive system. As a woman ages, so does their egg supply, therefore their body will not ovulate as frequently. This can result in the fluctuation of your hormone levels which can cause changes with you periods. Eventually, both the estrogen and progesterone levels in your body will drop, to the point where your menstrual cycle eventually stops all together. Next, you’ll also want to know the symptoms that can be associated with menopause. These include hot flashes, headaches, insomnia, behavioural and/or emotional changes (for example, you may develop mood swings, feel depressed, grouchy, or feel more anxious than usual), memory problems, vaginal dryness, and heart palpitations. Many women going through menopause will have very few or very mild symptoms, while the symptoms can be so severe for others that it may disrupt their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. During the first year of menopause the symptoms may worsen or persist longer than usually, though the hormone levels do eventually even out which means the symptoms should improve or go away all together. As mentioned, menopause is a normal part of a woman’s aging process. However, certain medical treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy can also trigger menopause, so it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of that happening and address any concerns you might have with your family physician.

There are no tests that can diagnose menopause; however, if your symptoms do happen to be severe then you should seek medical treatment just to be sure nothing else is going on with your health. If you find your symptoms difficult to deal with, there are certain things that Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends trying – lifestyle being the main focus. This includes making a conscious effort to eat well by ensuring you have a nutritious diet that is low in carbohydrates, low in saturated fats, and includes more things like fruits and vegetables, fish, beans, fibre, grains, and low or non-fat dairy products. Things like caffeine and alcohol can also make symptoms of menopause worse, so you should limit these. If you’re a smoker, quitting can actually reduce hot flashes. Quitting smoking also has many other health benefits, which you can read more about by clicking here. If you find that making a few lifestyle changes isn’t doing much to improve your symptoms, prescription medication is another option. Low-dose birth control may be considered before menopause, while low-dose hormone therapy may be considered after menopause; antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can also be prescribed to help improve the mood.

For a list of other common health concerns that can affect women, click here.

The Role of a Radiologist

The Role of a Radiologist | Dr. Ali Ghahary

As a family physician, it’s not uncommon for Dr. Ali Ghahary to refer patients for different types of tests. Blood work, for example, is something that Dr. Ghahary often requests patients have done as a part of their yearly examination to ensure that their cholesterol levels are where they should be, as well as to check for and rule out other common health conditions such as thyroid disease. Blood testing can also detect more serious health issues, too, such as cancer. In addition to having blood tests done, medical screening is also done on patients of a certain age. For example, it’s recommended that men in their 50’s should go for regular prostate cancer screening, while women between the ages of 50 and 69 should have breast cancer screening done every 2 years. Seniors should also have certain preventive testing done for things like colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and high blood pressure.

While blood work is commonly done by nurses, things like x-rays and cancer screening is typically done by someone known as a radiologist. A radiologist is an important part of the healthcare system as they help in the diagnosing of certain illnesses and injury, as well as aiding your physician in determining which examination is best suited for you. For example, would the patient benefit from an X-ray or will they need to have a more in-depth scan such as an MRI or CT scan.

A radiologist is much more than someone who simply takes a few photos, however. They are also able to determine what those photos show through careful examination and can also compare other examinations and tests to help them with their findings. In addition, they can also help treat diseases through radiation therapy – a form of cancer treatment that is often done before, during or after chemotherapy depending on the diagnosis and the stage that the cancer is in. During certain medical imaging procedures, the patient may either be asked to drink a solution or may require a dye that is injected into them intravenously. These dyes and solutions help give the radiologist a better view of certain parts of the body that may not necessarily show up as well as they would without dye or solution being present in the patient’s body. Think of it as a magnifying glass, in a way. The clearer the picture is, the easier it will be for the radiologist to provide your physician with an accurate report and diagnosis.

In order to become a radiologist, one has to graduate from an accredited school and complete a postgraduate residency, which usually lasts for approximately 4 years in the United States and Canada. During the learning and residency processes, a radiologist will learn about things like radiation safety, radiation protection, how radiation can affect the human body (for example, having frequent CT scans can increase the risk of cancer), how medical imaging tests are performed, and how to accurately read the scans.

For more information on the role of a radiologist, the important role they play in patient care, as well as education, visit the Canadian Association of Radiologists website at CAR.ca.

Sore Throat Causes and Treatment

While cold and flu season may no longer be at its peak, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the woods and can’t still get sick.

Cold and flu symptoms are usually similar (but can vary in severity), with a sore throat being the most common (and usually the first) symptom to develop. Because it’s the first symptom to develop, it’s also the first symptom to go away – usually dissipating after just a few days. However, those few days can be uncomfortable, and everything from talking to eating to swallowing can be painful.

Although there is no cure for a sore throat, there are certain things Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician, recommends patients to do help make them feel more comfortable, such as: Drinking warm liquids (such as tea or lemon with honey), sucking on ice chips or lozenges, or eating popsicles. You can also try over-the-counter medications such as throat sprays and cough syrup, as well as things like Advil and Tylenol. These medications can not only help relieve a sore throat, but can also reduce things like fever and body aches, which are both common with cold and flu viruses. Dr. Ali Ghahary says patients also need to ensure they’re getting enough rest. Lack of sleep can weaken the immune system and make you much more prone to developing reoccurring colds or flu viruses. Making sure you get a good night’s rest (and even take naps during the day, if you feel like your body needs it) will help you heal faster.

If your symptoms persist after one week and you find you’re not getting any better, or your sore throat has gotten worse, it would be a good idea to follow-up with your family physician, as sometimes a sore throat may be the result of a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, or you may have tonsillitis. Strep throat is an infection caused by streptococcus bacteria. With strep throat, patients often describe it as the worst sore throat they’ve ever had. If a patient has tonsillitis, their tonsils become red and inflamed. In some cases patients will have recurring tonsillitis and may require surgery to remove their tonsils. This type of procedure is performed by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (ENT) and is done under general anesthetic. If strep throat is the cause of the sore throat, you will need to be prescribed a course of antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Treating strep throat with antibiotics is crucial, as complications can develop if it is left untreated, including rheumatic fever, otitis media (middle ear infection), pneumonia, and even meningitis.