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It can be hard to avoid comfort food on rough days, but when eating unhealthy food becomes a long-term coping mechanism, your overall health can take a major blow.
A new study found a “vicious cycle” among obesity, depression and overeating or eating too much unhealthy food. An article on ScienceDaily explains that for people with depression, eating certain foods can temporarily relieve depression as part of a “food high.”
Eventually, when certain food is considered to be a reward and relief from depression, this behavior can lead to obesity.
Although depression can lead to eating unhealthy foods, the reverse can also happen, where eating unhealthy foods can also lead to depression and obesity.
"In addition to causing obesity, rich foods can actually cause chemical reactions in the brain in a similar way to illicit drugs, ultimately leading to depression as the 'come-downs' take their toll," said Stephanie Fulton, a lead researcher in the study, in the ScienceDaily article.
So what can we do about this hard-to-break cycle that at least some of us have experienced at this point? Experts have some suggestions.
Karlene Karst, a registered dietician, the author of books like “Belly Fat Breakthrough,” and a head nutritionist for the product Safslim, has several tips for women who are trying to break the depression-obesity-overeating cycle.
1) “Figure out what is causing the stress/anxiety/depression in the first place. Knowing your body, taking control of your health and empowering yourself with knowledge is the key for moving forward.”
2) “Incorporate some type of activity three to five times per week. This is essential for helping our brain release ‘feel good’ hormones called serotonin, which helps to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety. Great activities including hiking, walking, swimming, yoga (especially a gentle form called hatha), and pilates. Moving our body as often as possible will help combat both issues simultaneously, stress and weight loss.”
3) “To avoid excess snacking and over eating when you do eat, try to consume small amounts of food five to six times per day.