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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What is ADHD?

ADHD, also more commonly known as Attention Deficit Disorder, is one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders affecting children in Canada today. It is characterized by a wide variety of behavioural problems that typically co-occur, including impulsiveness, inattention, and in some cases, even hyperactivity. It can also occur in conjecture with other health problems such as dyslexia, insomnia, and issues with anger management.

ADHDThere are three main behavioural changes that parents of young children should watch for. Those are restlessness, distractibility, and as mentioned previously, impulsivity. Children with ADHD are often easily distracted by things they hear, see or think, fidget and cannot sit still for long periods of time, and also tend to make decisions before thinking them through. Secondary symptoms of ADHD include feelings of anxiousness, being disorganized, or procrastination. These symptoms typically more prominent between the ages of 3 and 5, but can also affect older children, too – and while these symptoms are certainly a precursor for ADHD, they can also be signs of other mental health issues.

It is important to address signs of ADHD as early as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficulty your child will have – not only with school, but socially as well. In order to determine whether or not your child has ADHD, healthcare professionals in Vancouver, like Dr. Ali Ghahary, will take an in-depth look into the child’s medical history – including whether or not there is any family history of ADHD, the child’s development/skills, as well as the presence of any other comorbidities, such as anxiety, which is also common with ADHD. Teachers may also be asked to relay information back to healthcare professionals about how a child behaves in the classroom, as this can be helpful in determining a proper course of treatment for the child.

There is no cure for ADHD. There are, however, many ways in which symptoms of ADHD can be controlled. Though it can be a difficult decision for parents of children to make, Dr. Ali Ghahary notes that medication has been shown to be beneficial in treating children with ADHD. Central Nervous System stimulants, for example, help to improve the child’s ability to focus, while other non-stimulant medications can help to improve memory and attention. As with most medication, ADHD medications also come with side effects; the most common being having difficulty sleeping, headaches, dry mouth, nausea, irritability, nervousness, and weight loss. Generally, these side effects will go away after a few weeks. There are, however, other, more serious side effects that can also occur as a result of taking such medications, including allergic reactions, high blood pressure, having thoughts of suicide, or hallucinations. If you notice your child exhibiting any of these symptoms, Dr. Ali Ghahary urges patients to speak with their physician as soon as possible. Your child may require a change in dose, or may need to be prescribed a different medication all together.