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Why does stress make us eat more?
Stress not only harms human health, it also affects our hunger. Stress can trigger a real cascade of physical reactions in your body, which not only causes you to eat more, but also a preference for less healthy food. But how can the negative nutritional effects of stress be avoided?
A recent study by the highly respected Harvard University found that stress has a strong impact on our hunger. This can cause us to overeat and eat unhealthy foods more often.
What is cortisol?
Stress increases the level of a hormone called cortisol in the blood. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal gland and helps regulate the metabolism. It also plays a role in blood sugar management and memory. If the cortisol level rises, this can promote inflammation and stimulate the body to store fat. Stress can also disrupt sleep and cause people to eat in the middle of the night.
Stress can lead to weight gain
In earlier times, the biological response to stress may have been beneficial and helped the body store energy for difficult times. But nowadays there are usually no famines or predators in western countries that we have to escape. As a result, stress can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
Women are more affected by stress
There is evidence that women are disproportionately affected by stress. For example, a 2012 survey by the American Psychological Association found that women had a higher level of stress than men (5.3 out of 10 points for women compared to 4.6 for men). 23 percent of women reported extreme stress compared to 16 percent of men who also suffered from extreme stress. In addition, women also stated more often that their stress level was increased (43 percent compared to 33 percent for men). For many of the women, it is precisely this persistent stress that leads to weight gain, the researchers explain in a press release.
Is the stress acute or chronic?
Stress itself can be either short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Acute stress can occur, for example, in a car accident. Chronic stress, on the other hand, can arise from years of work in a stressful job or from caring for a family member with a long-term illness.
Learn how to deal with stress better
While stress is an inevitable part of our lives, it's not the weight gain that can go with it. Changing your stress response and implementing strategies to reduce stress can help prevent unwanted weight gain.
Exercise is an essential part of stress management, as physical activity can lower cortisol levels. However, many people have problems to ensure adequate exercise and exercise and to maintain their motivation. If you find an activity that you really love, it will be easier for you to do the regular physical activity you need to relieve stress. For some people it could be yoga, for others high-intensity training or maybe a combination of both. A lack of sleep can also increase the amount of stress hormones that circulate in your body. It is therefore crucial that you get enough restful sleep to deal with stress effectively.
How do you perceive stress?
The amount of stress someone experiences is based not only on the circumstances, but also on how they are perceived. Two people can do the same job, but only one feels stressful. In other words, stress also depends in part on the way you look at it and your perspective. Skills of the individual to deal with stress differ depending on personality or life experiences. So you can work on a different attitude to reduce your stress. If you know you're going to have a stressful time, try making adjustments in your daily life to prepare for the stress ahead. This may include adjusting your schedule to add extra exercise or a healthy eating plan to withstand the impulse to eat unhealthy foods.
If you have problems dealing with stress or controlling your emotional eating, contact your family doctor. If necessary, you can refer them to other specialists. (as)