Anxiety makes my chocolate taste gross

When I get anxious, I lose my appetite. Now, I'm anxious a lot, and before I was on meds, I would lose weight during my "anxious episodes." Which could range from an afternoon of being a quivering ball of nervous goo, to several weeks of frantic job searching, apartment hunting, or exams.

When the anxiety gets really bad (which it does on a MUCH less frequent basis), I get nauseous and throw up. I don't try to vomit- the food just won't stay down.

In a person with severe anxiety, this can make eating not always the most palatable (ahem) of tasks- even after the anxiety leaves.

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel may have some insights on this. A recent study they did called "Taste-dependent sociophobia: when food and company don't mix." They found that

in the rat, eating while anxious may result in long-term alterations in social behavior...the association of taste with delayed negative internal states that could generate [responses] that are different from taste aversion should not be neglected. Such associations may contribute to the ontogenesis, reinforcement and symptoms of some types of taste- and food-related disorders...
[emphasis mine]

This is intriguing considering that many people with eating disorders don't like to eat in public; indeed, this can be one of the first apparent signs of illness. Besides OCD, social phobia is the most common pre-existing anxiety disorder reported by those with anorexia. Ultimately, this study shows that the relationship between eating disorders and anxiety may be even more complex and convoluted than originally thought.

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3 comments:

Sarah said...

Very interesting . . . for me it's been the reverse. Food to soothe the anxiety.

xo

mary said...

Knowing your enemy is the best defense you have so keep on working at keeping the anxiety low.
There are also some foods that are soothers for what almost seems to be a reflux condition that may also be a culprit here. Even in full recovery my girl takes DGL before meals that she knows may upset her system. Chamomile tea also heals the pains that come with this. Not sure it's relevant for you Carrie but I thought I'd share it. Acid reflux and digestive upsets are quite common and yet sometimes they are difficult to diagnose yet there can be a real physical basis behind the feelings.
Anxiety can definitely cause any meal to feel unsettling for her as well so she focuses on that aspect of her life. Don't let the rat race bring you down.
Hope you like your new job!/****

Social phobia anxiety said...

I want to thank you for the link. I've been suspecting for a long time there's a connection between social phobia and food aversion, but couldn't find a proof. Except I was living it:) Though I've never developed an eating disorder, I would loose an awful lot of weight while in particularly anxious periods.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote



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