Is loneliness making you fat?
THERE are many repercussions from not having enough good men to choose from in Jamaica, and one of them, according to at least one expert, is that a number of women are turning to food for comfort and to fill the void loneliness creates.
According to nutritionist and fitness expert Donovan Grant, some persons find it much better to binge on comfort foods such as chocolate, ice-cream and cakes, as a way to drown out the pain associated with loneliness.
"What they are doing is that they are eating all these comfort foods because they need comfort and not all of them want to talk to friends about it," he said.
"The fact is that foods can trigger certain hormones, so that's why you have 'feel good foods'. So for some persons, when they have chocolate, they get a rush because of certain 'feel good hormones'. Just as how exercise can make you feel good, food can also make you feel good," noted the nutritionist who has several years of experience in the field.
Becoming overweight or even obese is one of the obvious spin-offs from this constant bingeing, although the intention in eating is never really to gain weight. This excess weight in some cases results in women feeling even more depressed.
"Sometimes during the whole process you lose your self-esteem, so it is not just that they are overeating, but they generally just give up on themselves. They don't look so nice anymore, they don't have any time to go and do their hair and along with the food problem, they just totally give up on themselves," said Grant.
The nutritionist noted that Valentine's Day and the Christmas season are usually the most depressing for single women who are desirous of being with someone. He noted, for example, that one popular pastry shop in Kingston was swamped last Valentine's Day with mostly women who were busy filling up on cakes and other sugary delights.
"I definitely saw it last Valentine's. Persons just wanted to drown themselves in food," he said.
Some people also develop an emotional dependency on food after a break-up as well, noted the fitness expert.
"If you are going through this period and you are not eating properly, then you probably don't want to do any exercise. So even if you were very active before, you just want to be a couch potato and just lie in bed and sometimes feel depressed. So you are eating now and you are not doing any exercise," he said.
Grant noted that it is very easy for women living alone to overeat as well, because they don't have as much censorship from family
"Persons living alone don't usually feel that kind of guilt as those persons who live in a family situation, because you don't have anybody to see you, nobody is there to condemn you and say 'how come you are eating so much cake?' You can get away with anything," he said.
While acknowledging that is very easy to fall into the trap of being an emotional eater, Grant said there are several things that women can do to protect themselves. The main thing, he said, is to get involved in extra curricular and voluntary activities to take the focus away from self.