Eating for comfort may be negatively impacting your waistline. If you are having trouble managing your weight, you may want to be more social. A study found that there is a link between loneliness and hunger. They found that individuals who scored the highest on a measure of loneliness also reported the highest hunger levels. I think we can all relate to the hankering for some comfort food when we are feeling down.
Breaking Bread Together
The link between eating and socialising goes back to our evolution. In early times eating was almost exclusively a social activity. Out of necessity the hunting, gathering and the like was labour intensive, and the results were shared with others once returning home. Today meals are social events for many of us. Whether that is the Sunday supper with the extended family or a humble weeknight nosh with friends. Mealtime remains one of the times even busy people come together. So, it makes sense that the longing for social connectedness is linked to our desire for sustenance.
Loneliness and Health Problems
On the dark side however, this could mean that loneliness may be negatively affecting our physical health. The numbers of overweight Australians has been steadily increasing for the past 30 years. Around 60% of Australian adults are overweight according to the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council. We are seeing the numbers of individuals dealing with depression growing at the same time as the lifestyle diseases (diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity…).
Wellness Goes Beyond Checking our Vitals
Developing a multi-pronged approach to wellness can be the answer. The old approaches to health that targeted symptom reduction may have overlooked how one issue is linked to other aspects of our lives. When was the last time you recall your GP inquiring about whether you were lonely or sad? I’d bet they routinely hoist you up on the scales to check your weight or cuff you to test our blood pressure. Those are definitely good things. When we consider our overall wellness & how we can enrich our lives we need to also take into account interconnected factors.
Collaboration for Success
There is a push in healthcare to focus more on developing a multidisciplinary approach. The idea is to have experts in different areas e.g. physiotherapy, general practice medicine, and psychology collaborating in an attempt to bolster patient outcomes.
However, the responsibility ultimately lies with each of us to do what we can to look after ourselves. Ask your healthcare provider directly for assistance if your are experiencing loneliness, or depression. You can develop personal initiatives at home to improve your health and wellness. The least you can do is say yes, the next time you get invited to a date or a dinner party. After all, eating for comfort in this way may improve your emotional and physical health.