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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The Role of a Dietitian

When it comes to healthy eating, making the right food choices isn’t always easy. You may need to change your eating habits due to being overweight, having high cholesterol, or because of food allergies or sensitivities. While family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary can certainly help steer patients in the right direction when it comes to making healthy food choices – such as recommending low-carb diets – you may need additional help from a dietitian.

Just as any other healthcare professionals – such as doctors, pharmacists and specialists – dietitians are just as important to your health and wellbeing. They not only work alongside patients, but also with general practitioners, in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and from time to time you may even find a dietitian in a grocery store providing customers with tips on healthy eating.

An RD (registered dietitian) is a professionally trained individual that is able to counsel patients on food and what it means to have good nutrition – and not only that, but the information in which they do provide is tailored specifically to the client whom they are helping. Meaning that the information in which a dietitian provides to you is given to you with your needs in mind and yours alone, as food that is good for one individual may not be right for another.

In addition to providing patients with counselling on nutrition, dietitians can also provide patients with information on how to combine their healthy eating with other lifestyle changes, such as fitness. Healthy eating and weight loss often go hand in hand. Following the advice of a dietitian or a nutritionist can also help to reduce the risk of diabetes as well as lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.

To find a dietitian in your area, visit the Dietitians of Canada website at dietitians.ca.

Dr. Ali Ghahary’s Tips for Managing Diabetes

If you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes it can be tough to navigate – at least initially. For many, managing diabetes means having to make lifestyle changes, and while it’s certainly not a death sentence, it can still be a matter of life or death if you don’t take the appropriate steps to keep yourself healthy.

The most common form of diabetes is Type II diabetes. Type II diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t use insulin properly – also known as insulin resistance. This can lead to a number of health problems including heart disease, stroke, neuropathy, and of course high blood sugar.

Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, shares some important steps that you can take if you’ve been diagnosed with Type II diabetes – which will not only help control your blood sugar levels, but improve your overall quality of life, too.

First and foremost, make sure you’re eating healthy. Ensuring you’re eating a good, well-balanced diet is something Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends to all of his patients, but it is especially important for managing diabetes.

Certain foods such as carbohydrates (i.e. pasta, bread, grains), milk, candy, canned fruit and starchy vegetables break down into glucose and raise blood sugar levels a lot faster than other foods would. Instead, choose non-starchy vegetables like beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, onions, tomatoes and peppers. You can find a full list of non-starchy vegetables by clicking here. You should also choose other healthy food options such as nuts, whole grains and seeds, and of course limit your sugar intake. When it comes to protein, make sure your choices are low in saturated fat – like turkey or fish. Avoid things like hot dogs and deli meats, as these are foods that are processed and contain little to no nutritional value, and can also increase the risk of high blood pressure. When choosing grains, make sure they’re whole grains – such as quinoa and wild rice. Whole grain bread is also a healthier alternative to white bread. Grains contain a wide variety of healthy vitamins and minerals. Avoid things like pasta and white rice. As for dairy, avoid things like chocolate milk or any dairy product that is full fat. Greek yogurt, for example, is a healthier, low-fat option.

Managing diabetes doesn’t just mean changing your diet, however. It is also important to have a handle on your weight. Being overweight can lead to diabetes or make diabetes worse. Losing weight can not only decrease your blood sugar levels, but it can also decrease the risk of other health complications such as kidney failure and cardiovascular problems.

For more information on both Type I and Type II diabetes, click here.

What Are Gallstones and How Are They Treated

Gallstones

Do you have sudden pain and/or pain that is rapidly intensifying in the upper right side of your abdomen? What about pain in your shoulder, nausea or vomiting? All of these symptoms may be strong indicators of a gallbladder attack caused by gallstones. Such an attack can last for a few minutes or as long as several hours.

What Do You Do During a Gallstone Attack?

The first course of action (and the most important course of action, at that), would be to book an appointment with your family physician. If you do not have a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a general practitioner from Vancouver, is available to see patients on a walk-in basis at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, BC. It is important to note, however, that this is a walk-in clinic, therefore wait times and closing times may very. To find Dr. Ali Ghahary’s walk-in hours, please visit his website at alighahary.ca/schedule. You can also find out more information by visiting the clinic at brentwoodwalk-inclinic.com and by calling them directly.

What Causes Gallstones?

There are two types of gallstones that can form: Cholesterol gallstones, which are yellow in colour, or Pigment gallstones, which are dark brown or black in colour.

While it’s not clear what, exactly, causes gallstones, healthcare professionals are under the impression that it is a combination of many different factors including too much cholesterol in your bile – resulting in the formation of crystals that then turn into stones, as well too much bilirubin – a chemical that is products when red blood cells are broken down. Gallstones can also be caused by the gallbladder not emptying itself correctly, which can also contribute to the formation of stones.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Certain individuals are at a higher risk of developing gallstones. For example, they tend to occur more frequently in females than males, as well as certain ethnicities such as Native Americans or Mexican-Americans. You’re also at an increased risk of developing gallstones if you are over the age of 40, if you are pregnant, obese, have diabetes, have a family history of diabetes, take any medications containing estrogen (i.e. birth control/oral contraceptives), have liver disease, or have an unhealthy diet (i.e. a high-fat or high-cholesterol diet.)

How Can I Reduce My Risk of Gallstones?

In order to reduce the risk of gallstones, there are certain changes you can easily implement into your life. First and foremost, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends making healthy food choices – particularly foods that are low in fat and low in cholesterol, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, poulty and fish, as well as whole grains such as brown rice, bran cereal, oats and whole wheat bread. AVOID foods like chocolate, pizza, creamy sauces and soups. You can find more information on a gallbladder-specific diets by reading HealthLink BC’s ‘Eating Guidelines for Gallbladder Disease’.

It is also important to remember not to skip your meals. By skipping meals or fasting, you actually increase the risk of gallstones, as this can cause bile to build-up in your body until the next time you eat. Also, try not to eat large, heavy meals. Instead, try consuming smaller meals throughout the day. Eating smaller meals tends to minimize the risk of gallstones by constantly removing bile from the gallbladder.

While diet is the primary cause of gallbladder disease, it’s also important to try to maintain a healthy weight. Eating healthy can certainly help with weight loss as well as weight maintenance, but it doesn’t hurt to implement physical activity into your daily routine as well. More information on the many benefits of exercise can be found by visiting Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog on WordPress.

How Are Gallstones Diagnosed and Treated?

Gallstones are diagnosed based on the patient’s symptoms as well as medical imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan. Most individuals with gallstones may not even have symptoms nor need treatment. However, this is entirely dependent on how the patient feels as well as the findings of test results.

In some cases, healthcare professionals may take a ‘watch and wait’ approach for any complications to arise (i.e. intensifying pain) before deciding on treatment, while in other cases you may need to be prescribed oral medications to help dissolve the stones.

In cases where there are complications or if the gallstones keep returning, you may need surgery to have your gallbladder removed. This procedure is known as a cholecystectomy.