August 24, 2015( Comments: 0 )

Why We Eat Junk Food When Stressed.

Do you have constant cravings for ice-cream, chocolate or just anything sweet? Are you still thinking about chocolate as you read this? There is much truth behind the phrase “stress eating.” Stress, the hormones it unleashes, and the effects of high-fat, sugary “comfort foods” push people toward overeating.

In the short term, stress can shut down appetite. Corticotrophin-releasing hormone, is released which suppresses appetite. The brain also sends messages to the adrenal glands atop the kidneys to pump out the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). Epinephrine helps trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response, a revved-up physiological state that temporarily puts eating on hold.

But if stress persists, it’s a different story. The adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases appetite! Once a stressful episode is over, cortisol levels should fall, but if the stress doesn’t go away — or if a person’s stress response gets stuck in the “on” position — cortisol may stay elevated.

 Fat and sugar cravings!

Once ingested, fat and sugar filled foods seem to have a feedback effect that inhibits activity in the parts of the brain that produce and process stress and related emotions. These foods really are “comfort” foods in that they seem to counteract stress — and this may contribute to people’s stress-induced craving for those foods.

Of course, overeating isn’t the only stress-related behaviour that can add pounds. Stressed people also lose sleep, exercise less, and drink more alcohol, all of which can contribute to excess weight and an unhealthy lifestyle!

 What can we do to help deal with stress?

See previous Blog “Exercise and Stress” for great ways to deal with stress.

However, in short – exercise is one of THE best ways of dealing with it!

Another great way is Social Support – Friends and family can make a world of difference when it comes to dealing with stressful situations. But having their support when it comes to pursuing a fitness routine can really make all the difference.

A huge step in the right direction is to become conscious of “stress eating” to ensure we don’t follow the bad habit of picking up naughty food!

 At the end of the day the goal shouldn’t be to get rid of stress. Stress is a natural response; the goal should be to learn how to deal with stress in a more healthy way!!

If you would like the gym, group classes, yoga or some sort of exercise routine to help you in dealing with stress, pop in and see us in Warriewood on the sunny Northern Beaches and we can show you some fantastic exercise routines to help.

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