the binge-eating files » Emotions and feelings

Emotions and feelings related to binge eating, emotional eating, food addiction, weight and body image

Scientist discovers potential brain link between stress, emotional eating   ScienceDaily (Nov 27, 2023) — Molecule may connect threatening events with the desire to overeat high-fat foods. Scientists describe how they identified a molecule that may trigger over-consumption of comfort foods after a threatening event…. more

Emotional patterns a factor in children’s food choices   ScienceDaily (July 12, 2022) – The emotional context in which eating occurs has been thought to influence eating patterns and diet, with studies finding negative emotions predict excessive calorie intake and poor diet quality. A research article discusses how children’s unhealthy food choices, especially over weekends, are related to emotion. … more

‘Hangry is a real thing’: psychologists find link between hunger and emotions   The Guardian (July 6, 2022) by Ian Sample — For those who get snappy when they miss out on lunch, it may be the perfect excuse: researchers have confirmed that a lack of food makes otherwise bearable people “hangry”.  In one of the first studies to explore how hunger affects emotions as people go about their daily lives, psychologists found that the more hungry people felt, the more angry – or hangry – they became. … more

“No, We Can’t Have Our Cake and Eat It Too: the Downside of Mindful Emotional Eating”   Gurze-Salucor Eating Disorders Resource Catalogue (Sept 8, 2021) by Karen R. Koenig — When I first heard about the concept of mindful emotional eating, I was okay with it. I even did a blurb for a book about it several years ago, as it seemed like a reasonable alternative—If you’re going to eat emotionally, why not do it mindfully? After all, eating is best done with consciousness, focus, awareness and an eye toward pleasure. But as time went by and I read more articles on mindful emotional eating and talked with clients and eating disorders colleagues about it, I started to view it differently: as a deterrent to “normal” eating. … more

How Food May Improve Your Mood   New York Times (May 6, 2021) by Anahad O’Connor – The sugar-laden, high-fat foods we often crave when we are stressed or depressed, as comforting as they are, may be the least likely to benefit our mental health. As people across the globe grappled with higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety this past year, many turned to their favorite comfort foods …  But studies in recent years suggest that the sugar-laden and high-fat foods we often crave when we are stressed or depressed, as comforting as they may seem, are the least likely to benefit our mental health. … The findings stem from an emerging field of research known as nutritional psychiatry, which looks at the relationship between diet and mental wellness. … more

Bodily sensations give rise to conscious feelings   ScienceDaily  (Aug 31, 2018) – A research group has mapped the organization of human conscious feelings and found them to cluster into five major categories: positive emotions, negative emotions, cognitive functions, somatic states, and illnesses. … more

Weight Stigma and Health: Does Self-blame Play a Role?  Medscape (Jun 28, 2018) by Rebecca M. Puhl, PhD – … As we learn more about the harmful effects of weight stigma, emerging research indicates that it’s not only the stigmatizing encounter itself that distresses and harms the individual but also the individual’s personal interpretation of that experience. In particular, when people direct stigmatizing experiences inward and blame themselves for the stigma, their health can be compromised … more

Are we putting too much blame on ‘emotional eating’?  Washington Post (Sept 8, 2017) by Carrie Dennett – It’s a truth universally acknowledged that emotional eating contributes to weight gain — but is this a false truth? Many patients come to my office with the “emotional eater” label firmly affixed, convinced that if they could solve that problem, all their food and weight woes would evaporate. That’s rarely the case because emotional eating isn’t about food. … more

Parents’ use of emotional feeding increases emotional eating in school-age children   ScienceDaily (Apr 25, 2017) – Emotional eating is not uncommon in children and adolescents, but why youth eat emotionally has been unclear. Now a new longitudinal study from Norway has found that school-age children whose parents fed them more to soothe their negative feelings were more likely to eat emotionally later on. The reverse was also found to be the case, with parents of children who were more easily soothed by food being more likely to feed them for emotional reasons. … more

Are you raising an emotional eater?   CBS News (Apr 25, 2017) by Randy Dotinga – Soothing your kids with food may stop the tears in the short-term. But researchers warn it can lead to unhealthy eating patterns long-term. Parents who are “emotional feeders” can encourage “emotional eating” — a habit linked to weight gain and eating disorders, the Norwegian-British study found. “There is now even stronger evidence that parental feeding styles have a major influence on children’s dietary habits and how children relate to foods and beverages when it comes to addressing their own emotions,” said one expert, Rafael Perez-Escamilla. He’s a professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale University’s School of Public Health. … more

Childhood binge eating: Families, feeding, and feelings  ScienceDaily (June 28, 2016) – In order to put childhood binge eating into context, a new systematic review identifies two potential risk factors for binge eating in children under the age of 12. With family being the most proximal and influential setting affecting behaviors and attitudes in children, the study reports that parental non-involvement or emotional unresponsiveness and weight-related teasing in the family are behaviors consistently associated with childhood binge eating. … more

Stress hormone receptors in taste buds ‘may help explain emotional eating’  MNT Medical News Today (June 4, 2016) by Honor Whiteman – When under stress, many of us reach for sugary foods to make us feel better. Now, researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, PA, may have discovered why this is. In a new study, the investigators identified receptors for stress-activated hormones located in oral taste buds responsible for detecting sweet, savory and bitter tastes. … more

How the brain processes emotions   ScienceDaily (Mar 31, 2016) – Neuroscientists identify circuits that could play a role in mental illnesses, including depression. A new study reveals how two populations of neurons in the brain contribute to the brain’s inability to correctly assign emotional associations to events. Learning how this information is routed and misrouted could shed light on mental illnesses including depression, addiction, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. … more

Pinpointing loneliness in the brain   MNT  (Medical News Today) (Feb 12, 2016) – Humans, like all social animals, have a fundamental need for contact with others. This deeply ingrained instinct helps us to survive; it’s much easier to find food, shelter, and other necessities with a group than alone. Deprived of human contact, most people become lonely and emotionally distressed. In a study appearing in the Feb. 11, 2016 issue of Cell, MIT neuroscientists have identified a brain region that represents these feelings of loneliness. This cluster of cells, located near the back of the brain in an area called the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN), is necessary for generating the increased sociability that normally occurs after a period of social isolation, the researchers found in a study of mice. …more

What triggers rage? New research sheds light   MNT (Medical News Today) by Honor Whiteman – Some people can experience unprovoked, violent outbursts that they are unable to control. But where do these fits of rage come from? A new study may offer clues. Senior investigator Dayu Lin, PhD, of the Druckenmiller Neuroscience Institute at New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center, and colleagues found that sudden, violent behavior in male mice was associated with changes in a brain structure called the lateral septum. Furthermore, they found they could turn aggression on and off in the mice by activating certain brain cells in this region. … more

The search for happiness: Using MRI to find where happiness happens: Narrowing in on the neural structures behind happiness   ScienceDaily (Nov 20, 2015) – Researchers have mapped out using MRI where happiness emerges in the brain. The study paves the way for measuring happiness objectively — and also provides insights on a neurologically based way of being happy. … more

How emotions influence learning and memory processes in the brain  ScienceDaily (Aug 6, 2015) – A groundbreaking new study at the University of Haifa has found for the first time that emotions are not only the product of the processing of information by the brain, but that they also directly influence processes of learning and memory in the brain … “It turns out that different emotions cause the brain to work differently and on distinct frequencies.” … more

Is defeat sweeter than victory? Researchers reveal the science behind emotional eating ScienceDaily (July 9, 2015) – Research by food scientists reveals how a person’s emotional state — particularly in the competitive, wide world of sports — affects the perception of taste. In particular, people in negative emotional states tend to crave sweets more than those in a positive frame of mind. more …

Study cracks how brain processes emotions   ScienceDaily (July 9, 2014) Although feelings are personal and subjective, the human brain turns them into a standard code that objectively represents emotions across different senses, situations and even people, reports a new study. “Despite how personal our feelings feel, the evidence suggests our brains use a standard code to speak the same emotional language,” one researcher concludes. more …

Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood? The rich array of microbiota in our intestines can tell us more than you might think. NYT New York Times Magazine (June 23, 2015) by Peter A Smith  –  … Since 2007, when scientists announced plans for a Human Microbiome Project to catalog the micro-organisms living in our body, the profound appreciation for the influence of such organisms has grown rapidly with each passing year. Bacteria in the gut produce vitamins and break down our food; their presence or absence has been linked to obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and the toxic side effects of prescription drugs. Biologists now believe that much of what makes us human depends on microbial activity. … more

Thoughts drive dieting plans but feelings drive dieting behavior, study finds   ScienceDaily ( May 5, 2015) – Dieting is a process that involves a plan to change eating behavior and behaving according to that plan. But the factors that guide diet planning differ from those that guide actual diet behavior, according to the results of a new study. more …

Excess weight linked to brain changes that may relate to memory, emotions, and appetite   ScienceDaily (Feb 11, 2014) – Being overweight appears related to reduced levels of a molecule that reflects brain cell health in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory, learning, and emotions, and likely also involved in appetite control, according to a new study. more

What role does mood play in the development of unhealthy eating?    Medical News Today (Mar. 20, 2013) – Unhealthy eating behaviors may worsen the moods of women who are worried about their diet and self image, researchers from Pennsylvania State University revealed.   Kristin Heron, research associate at the Survey Research Center, and team found that college-age females who are concerned about their eating behaviors tend to have moods that get worse after episodes of disordered eating.    more

Poll of psychologists cites emotions as top obstacle to successful weight loss     ScienceDaily (Jan. 9, 2013) — When it comes to losing weight, a popular New Year’s resolution for many, people often focus on eating less and exercising more. But results of a new survey of psychologists suggest dieters should pay attention to the role emotions play in weight gain and loss if they hope to succeed.   more

The facts about emotional eating (Oct. 3, 2012) by Alice Oglethorpe, Noelle Howey, & Julia Edelstein “I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them,” wrote Nora Ephron in Heartburn. If only most of us were so philosophical about the way we eat when we’re in the throes of a powerful emotion. Unfortunately, after we celebrate our promotion with champagne and cupcakes or drown our romantic woes in a bowl of spaghetti, we tend to feel remorseful. “I indulged myself,” we might confess, in a hushed tone, to a friend the next day. (Even our choice of word—indulge—is loaded, as it implies we are engaging in a vaguely illicit behavior.)     more

How stress and depression can shrink the brain    ScienceDaily (Aug. 12, 2012) — Major depression or chronic stress can cause the loss of brain volume, a condition that contributes to both emotional and cognitive impairment. Now a team of researchers led by Yale scientists has discovered one reason why this occurs — a single genetic switch that triggers loss of brain connections in humans and depression in animal models.   more

Feeling fat may make you fat, study suggests   ScienceDaily (Aug. 8, 2012) — They’re everywhere — in magazines, on the Internet, on television — people with super-thin bodies who are presented as having the ideal body form. But despite the increasing pressure to be thin, more and more of us are overweight. Now, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have found that normal weight teens who perceive themselves as fat are more likely to grow up to be fat.   more

Obesity often tied to mental health issues   Toronto Star (July 3, 2012) by Michelle McQuigge – When  Kevin Healey walked into his doctor’s office five years ago, the minor injury he was seeking treatment for was the least of his physical ailments.  His weight had crept up from 200 to 240 pounds over the past few months …It was only when he received a diagnosis for a mental health condition and his treatment plan began addressing both his physical and emotional state that things began to improve.   more

Synchronized brains: Feeling strong emotions makes people’s brains ‘tick together’ ScienceDaily (May 24, 2012) — Experiencing strong emotions synchronizes brain activity across individuals, a research team … has revealed. Human emotions are highly contagious. Seeing others’ emotional expressions such as smiles triggers often the corresponding emotional response in the observer. more

Vicious cycle of over-eating and feeling depressed explained   ScienceDaily (May 23, 2012) — Fat Bastard’s revelation “I eat because I’m depressed and I’m depressed because I eat” in the Austin Powers film series may be explained by sophisticated neuroscience research being undertaken by scientists affiliated with the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CR-CHUM) and the university’s Faculty of Medicine. “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,” explain lead researcher, Dr. Stephanie Fulton. more

USC study shows the price Wall Streeters pay for success   Los Angeles Times (Feb. 15, 2012) by Walter Hamilton – A critic might say that Wall Street has made the rest of the country sick. Now comes a study showing that financial-industry masters of the universe are making themselves sick. The study by USC business professor Alexandra Michel found that Wall Street’s unrelentingly grueling work schedule – up to 120 hours a week in some cases – often results in severe physical and emotional maladies. A partial list: heart problems, alcoholism, prescription-drug abuse, insomnia, depression, eating disorders, back pain and weight gain.   more

Heavy kids, heavy :emotions (Feb. 14, 2010) by Jeanna Bryner – The ballooning waistlines of children hit the spotlight when Michelle Obama admitted publicly her daughters had an unhealthy body mass index. And while many urge kids to slim down to avoid heart disease and other physical ailments, the emotional consequences from teasing and low self-esteem could be just as debilitating, scientists say.   more

Rats with part of brain deactivated move toward food but do not eat   ScienceDaily (Sep. 9, 2009) — Scientists led a rat to the fatty food, but they couldn’t make it eat. Using an animal model of binge eating, University of Missouri researchers discovered that deactivating the basolateral amygdala, a brain region involved in regulating emotion, specifically blocked consumption of a fatty diet. Surprisingly, it had no effect on the rat wanting to look for the food repeatedly. “It appears that two different brain circuits control the motivation to seek and consume,” said Matthew Will, assistant professor of psychological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science and investigator in the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center.  more

Finding Fear: Neuroscientists locate where it is stored in the brain   ScienceDaily (July 8, 2009) — Fear is a powerful emotion, and neuroscientists have for the first time located the neurons responsible for fear conditioning in the mammalian brain. Fear conditioning is a form of Pavlovian, or associative, learning and is considered to be a model system for understanding human phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders.  more

Emotions can help predict future eating disorders   ScienceDaily (Mar. 17, 2009) — A PhD thesis at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) has analysed the role played by a number of emotional variables, such as the way in which negative emotions are controlled or attitudes to emotional expression, and to use these variables as tools to predict the possibility of suffering an eating disorder. more

Serotonin link to impulsivity, decision-making, confirmed   ScienceDaily (June 11, 2008) — New research by scientists at the University of Cambridge suggests that the neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as a chemical messenger between nerve cells, plays a critical role in regulating emotions such as aggression during social decision-making.  Serotonin has long been associated with social behaviour, but its precise involvement in impulsive aggression has been controversial. Though many have hypothesised the link between serotonin and impulsivity, this is one of the first studies to show a causal link between the two.   more

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