There are correlations between what you eat and how you feel, and many of us are suffering the consequences of failing to understand this relationship.

“The way we feel about food says a lot about how we're going to digest the food and that is food psychology,” says nutritionist Rashi Chowdhary. She cites a typical scenario. 

“I've come back from work, I've had a really stressful day, I'm sitting on the couch and I'm feeling really relieved. I'm happy that my day is over. I’m watching Netflix and I want to pick up my phone and order something [to eat].”

It is in such situations that we are most vulnerable, warns Chowdhary, because in many cases we order the wrong kinds of food. But the worst part is we’re conscious about it — so guilt creeps in, and surprisingly, that feeling can reinforce our bad eating habits.

“If I'm going to sit and eat it with a whole lot of guilt, here's what happens,” Chowdhary explains in the fourth episode of the Friday Food For Thought web series produced by Friday Lite magazine. “There's a hypothalamus in my brain which is gonna pick up on this negative input, give an inhibitory response to my digestive tract, which means the food will stay there longer, which means my gut bacteria can't flourish, which means because I've eaten the food with so much guilt it's going to stay longer and the way it digests will be affected.”

As humans, we cannot separate ourselves from emotional eating. In fact, finding comfort in food is common and can even be helpful.

“We're such emotional beings, we eat for every emotion,” says Chowdhary. But she adds it is when we're not processing our emotions properly that we can feel out of control.

A good way to counter this, says Chowdhary, is to practice mindfulness. It is our ability to pause in such moments of vulnerability that can ultimately help us make the right choices.

“Sadly enough that will not happen if you don't practice it on a daily basis,” she says. “Which is why on Instagram I'm always talking about mindfulness, trying to take a sip of water and remembering to be present with it. You have to start practicing these things, otherwise in that moment when I am feeling hungry, bored, edgy, tired, anxious, I'm going to pick up the phone and order what I want to order.

“If I practice mindfulness, I come to that place of pause, because I'm disconnected from all the stories in my head. This pause is where our power lies.”

Chowdhary tells more about our complex relationship with food and offers practical advice on certain food choices in the fourth episode of the web series, hosted by Shereen Saif. Friday Food For Thought, supported by homegrown brands Mai Dubai, Waterfront Market, Al Adil Trading and Danube Home, is a four-part health series that focuses on practical solutions for many common health issues. You can also watch all four episodes on the Gulf News and Friday Lite Facebook pages and IGTV channels.

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