Why Stress Can Lead to Overeating
Stress can lead to overeating due to the powerful soothing effect that some foods have. Stress releases hormones and chemicals in your body that practically beg you to eat high-fat and sugar-filled comfort foods. These foods do not deliver all of the nutrients and minerals your body requires, so you continue to eat in an attempt to give your body what it needs.
Your brain has a natural tendency to release “feel good” hormones when fat, sugary and salt filled foods are eaten. So even though you are not getting all of the nutritional goodness you need, you eat more and more of these foods rich in carbohydrates and calories, because they make you feel good. An overeating cycle begins, which can quickly lead to overweight and the health problems which accompany it.
Stress Eating – What It Is, And How You Can Avoid It
“Stress eating” is a term used to define how stress increases appetite. While short term stress actually suppresses appetite because your brain immediately begins producing a corticotropin-releasing hormone that quickly works to make you feel full and satisfied, continued stress actually aggravates your adrenal glands. These are located just above your kidneys, and they release the stress super-villain cortisol.
Cortisol naturally increases your appetite because it desensitizes your pleasure receptors. And once you successfully get over a particularly stressful episode, cortisol production drops and your hunger levels return to normal.
But in some people, your stress response can be left in the “on” position. Your cortisol levels stay elevated and you continue to eat to satisfy artificial hunger.
So, the question remains, how can you relieve the stress which leads to overeating and the health problems which accompany it? Take the following simple steps to immediately begin relieving stress in your life.
- Practice meditation – Proven to reduce stress levels, focused meditation can help you treat your overeating. Consult a yoga or meditation specialist in your area and sign up for classes that will help you deal with the stress in your life. Short on time? Download an app and do it at home.
- Exercise consistently – Moderate, low intensity exercise for even just 20 minutes has been proven to reduce levels of cortisol, and thereby your stress. But be warned, highly intense exercises increase cortisol levels temporarily.
- Reinvent your community – Your friends and family can be wonderful providers of social support if you feel you are stressed out frequently. There are also professional stress support groups located in most major cities.
- Acknowledge what you cannot control – Plain and simple but something we all tend to concentrate on when the situation(s) are out of our control. Let go of what you cannot control in your life.