It’s not just what we eat, but why we eat that’s important for heart health, according to research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The study found that emotional eating was associated with cardiovascular problems, and that stress contributed to this relationship.
“Emotional eaters consume food to satisfy their brains rather than their stomachs,” said study author Professor Nicolas Girerd, coordinator of the Clinical Investigation Centre (CIC-P) and a cardiologist at the University Hospital of Nancy, France. “Mindful eating can help break this habit. It means taking time out to eat, either alone or with others, being in the moment and aware of what you are doing, and not being distracted by your phone or the TV.”
“Stress might be one of the reasons for eating in response to feelings instead of hunger,” said lead author Dr. Sandra Wagner, a nutritional epidemiologist at the CIC-P. “We know that emotional eaters are less aware of hunger and satiety but mindful eating brings attention to these physical sensations. Physical activity – either a walk or more intense exercise – is another way to avoid emotional eating because it relieves stress and provides a replacement activity. Just 10 minutes a day of meditation or breathing exercises can also help to recenter and reduce stress. To sum up, use the three Ms to kick the habit of emotional eating: move, meditate and mindful eating.”