Take revenge on the plate to alleviate stress or sadness, stop thinking, not face reality, without even being always aware of it. Some of us are no strangers to this behavior leading to the appearance of so-called emotional pounds.

Despite efforts to lose weight, “these extra pounds refuse to come off you or, when they do, keep coming back, and sometimes even more”, explains psychiatrist Stéphane Clerget.

Moreover, “poor regulation of emotions can induce variations in weight without there being any real overeating or eating disorders. “

Hormones, education and childhood memories

Faced with the plate, “consolation” and “oral drive” mechanisms come into play. How to explain it? By the power of our present emotions, capable of influencing the secretion of neurotransmitters involved in appetite and pleasure (dopamine, serotonin and galanin).

In the brain, our eating behaviors are governed, among other things, by the limbic system and the hippocampus, centers of emotions and memory. “This explains why our past emotions, especially our childhood experiences, play a role in emotional weight gain,” describes Dr Clerget. “Education, and more specifically learning how to manage emotions, eating habits during childhood and the relationship to excess, to overconsumption” can lay the foundation for these pounds.

Talk, move

To free yourself from this emotional overload, here are Dr. Clerget’s advice:

  • Do not deprive yourself at the table: “diets have no effect on the emotional pounds, on the contrary they increase them”. And by force, “food restrictions create frustrations and cause a poor perception of the feeling of hunger”;
  • Only learn to eat when you are really hungry. “To turn away from the reflex absorption of food, make a list of activities”, to be taken out as soon as you feel in the grip of a food urge;
  • “Identify your negative emotions”, the most difficult to pinpoint as they can go back a long way and be expressed in an ambivalent way (anger when you are afraid, smile when you are sad…) Define your negative emotion with a single adjective. Quietly, “try to feel it experimentally by imagining yourself in situations likely to produce it: then observe what you feel, the attitude that this emotion arouses. »You can then identify the situation (s) in which food absorbs your emotional jolts;
  • Consult a psychologist or psychiatrist to untangle the knots of the past. Or follow behavioral and cognitive therapy to learn how to eat in a peaceful way;
  • Play sports, which is essential for physical and mental balance. To stimulate the body-mind bond, meditation, yoga, acupuncture and shiatsu can also be valuable allies. “We are what we feel,” concludes Dr Clerget.