Ayurvedic Diet

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Symptoms | Weight Loss | Overeating Habits | Emotional eating
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Emotional eating Ayurvedic Perspectives

Emotional eating

(4.80 out of 5 stars) 5 reviews
Written by John Immel, Asheville, NC & Natalie Immel, Asheville, NC

The kinds of food you crave indicate what's going on internally and can serve as a good guide...
When you eat, are your truly hungry for food? Eating is an inherently emotional act. Food is the focal point for some of our most cherished celebrations in life; nourishment is one of our earliest signs of love and affection. Food calms the body by boosting blood sugar levels, giving you a sense of comfort and ease. It is normal to eat emotionally a few times a year, as a form of celebration or an expression of joy. However, emotional eating becomes problematic when food is your sole or frequent source of comfort.

If you find yourself seeking food whenever you feel distressed or uneasy, gently bring awareness to your habits without judging or berating yourself. Begin by noticing the difference between true belly hunger and emotional hunger. Investigate how you are feeling each time you reach for a snack.

The kinds of food you crave indicate what's going on internally and can serve as a good guide to help you uncover the roots of emotional eating. Think about the personalities of the foods you are drawn to in the whirlwind of emotions: is eating sugar an attempt to feel sweeter or more energized? Are you drawn to crunchy, spicy foods when angry and upset? Do you reach for chocolate when you want more passion, or nuts when you need grounding?

"Food nourishes the body; love nourishes the soul"
When you are feeling guilt ridden or ashamed because of emotional eating, it's important to remember that emotional eating is an adaptive strategy. In most cases, your body may be trying to calm itself down through the soothing medicine of food. Your body is doing the best it can to help you, which at the core is a very good, nurturing impulse. Instead of getting angry with yourself for eating emotionally, search for healthier ways to express yourself and your feelings. Exercising, journalling, or talking to a friend are all good strategies that actually help you address your emotions instead of masking them with food.

Food is supposed to energize you. Refined wheat and sugar do just the opposite. Given the dramatic side effects these foods have on the blood, they are often the cause of the very same emotions you are trying to medicate with food. If you are tired due to stress and adrenal fatigue, a sugar rush will alleviate your symptoms briefly, only to make you crash 15 minutes later. Try to notice when you are truly hungry, and when you are eating due to adrenal fatigue.

And, if you do decide to eat something for an emotional reason such as anger, sadness, upset, celebration, or joy, it is better to take the time to recognize and honor that you are eating for emotional reasons than to do so unconsciously. That is healthy and normal, and you can make up for it later by adjusting your diet as prescribed by Ayurveda.

Aggravated Doshas & Qualities

Imbalance Accumulates

Improper food and lifestyle causes balances to accumulate. Ayurveda shows you exactly which doshas and qualities will accumulate in your body. Once these doshas and qualities accumulate too much, they will begin to cause disease. You can reduce an imbalanced dosha or quality by removing things that aggravate it from your diet and lifestyle.

'Emotional eating' is likely to aggravate the following doshas and qualities.If you have a systemic imbalance of one of these doshas or qualities, Ayurveda would generally recommend removing, substitute or lessen the frequency of Emotional eating.

Kapha aggravatingDigestive Effects Help

Key: V = Vata, P = Pitta, K = Kapha. A slash through a dosha means it an aggravated dosha. To learn more about the symbols above, click on them.

Correct Imbalance

Food and lifestyle habite with the following effects may reduce imbalances associated with 'Emotional eating'.
About Pharmacological Effects
The list of actions below have not be approved by the FDA and should not be used to treat a medical condition.

Educational Resources

Browse these educational resources for 'emotional eating'.
My Joyful Belly Personal Ayurvedic Handbook
Say goodbye to confusion about food and health with your personal Ayurveda body book, individually and custom formulated for your body.

Explore Your Hunger
A book on exploring your hunger from food cravings to emotional eating for balanced weight and health. Written by Joyful Belly founder John Immel and Ayurvedic Practitioner Natalie Hine.

Ayurveda Diet for Weight Loss from A to Z
Learn how Ayurveda approaches weight loss in this Audio Lecture. Discover how simple, healthy, and effective an Ayurvedic diet is to lose weight.

The Easy Way to Reduce Food Cravings
Battling with a sugar craving? In this presentation you'll learn an easy way to reduce food cravings fast.

Ayurvedic Guide to Diet & Weight Loss: The Sattva...
Learn about Ayurveda! Dive into this book of recipes and complete guide to Ayurveda's approach to healing foods for weight loss and metabolism. By Scott Gerson.

Balance Your Kapha Diet in a Week - eCourse
Gain deeper wisdom and insight as you balance your Kapha diet in a week with this eCourse. Gracefully heal your body.

Mindful Eating
$18.95 $17.05
An practical resource for learning about mindful eating. Identify your eating habits and patterns and tune into the body's own wisdom. By Dr. Jan Chozen Bays.

Specialty Formulas by Joyful Belly

Please review these herbs & products below to determine which ones might be helpful for Emotional eating.
Control Cravings Food Freedom Tea
Vata aggravatingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
Control food cravings & portion size while addressing the root causes of emotional eating including poor circulation, lymphatic congestion, & toxic buildup.

Lose Weight with Ayurveda - Starter Kit
Experience the light, energetic new you with this starter kit of herbs and education. Start feeling good today.

Ayurvedic Herbs & Natural Products for Emotional eating

Please review these herbs & products below to determine which ones might be helpful for Emotional eating.

Weight Away (9.6 oz.)
Vata aggravatingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
Weight Away is a cleansing formula with herbs traditionally used for weight loss and encouraging proper fat and sugar metabolism.

Garcinia Cambogia Fruit
Vata aggravatingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
A famous Ayurvedic appetite suppressant that supports weight loss, healthy blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.

Gymnema sylvestre
Vata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
Reduces food cravings, especially for sugar. This Ayurvedic herb supports proper function of the pancreas to maintain healthy levels of blood sugar and insulin.

Saraswatarishta- Nerve Tonic
Vata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
Useful in conditions related to anxiety, depression, stress, mental weakness & fatigue, sleep problems.

Diet for Emotional eating

A diet rich in these foods & nutritional supplements may help re-balance the aggravated qualities and doshas in emotional eating.
ArugulaVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifyingBitter MelonVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
Black BeansVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifyingDandelion LeavesVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
KaleVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifyingPinto BeansVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
Red Leaf LettuceVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifyingRed Lentils (Masoor Dal)Vata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
Stinging NettlesVata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying

Related Symptoms & Habits

The following symptoms & habits may be related to 'Emotional eating' See your quiz results for a computerized assessment of your body type. Please click on the symptoms below to learn more about them.
Feel overweightTrying to lose weight
Frequent snackingIrregular meal times
Strong food cravingsEating after 8pm
Low self esteemLow energy
Overwhelmed by responsibilitiesStress overeater
Trauma-induced overeatingEat when lonely / depressed

About the Author

John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.

John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.

John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.

Comments & Personal Experiences

What are some of the reasons why you include 'emotional eating' in your life? Is there something you'd like to know about 'emotional eating'?

(4.80 out of 5 stars) 5 reviews

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Excellent discussion of this important topic.

- Sue Ellen, Princeton, NJ, 03-21-14 (Reply)
Just so well written!
- Gina, Athens, 03-21-14 (Reply)
- Aurelia Holliman, Weatherford, TX, 01-11-15 (Reply)
Emotional eating to me reflects nutritional deficiencies. I eat to get high, to feel good. So I avoid sugar(when I can),absolutely avoid high fructose corn syrup, drink little milk, avoid cheap bread products (most of the time), and avoid eating at restaurants (because they serve cheap food only with little nutritional value). To supplement food, I eat vitamins and minerals and use a variety of herbs and natural therapies.
- , 01-11-15 (Reply)
Sounds like you have a solid routine that works for you! For some, however, emotional eating goes beyond nutritional deficiencies and reflects deeper issues. Thanks for your comment!
My son committed suicide a couple years ago and I'm still struggling with what I had this far as emotional eating before then so I really would Like to stop this now
- gailane, 02-12-15 (Reply)

What is Joyful Belly?

Browse recipes and hundreds of other ingredients on this extensive educational website. Joyful Belly helps people confidently choose food that restores their healthy glow, using the ancient technique of Ayurveda. Our extensive collection of online recipes, ingredients, and articles makes health easy. To get started, take the free dosha quiz to find your Ayurvedic body type.

What is Ayurveda?

Learn about Ayurveda from the author of this article and founder of Joyful Belly,
John Immel.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information and products on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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