When Stressed, Pig Out or Starve?

I feel like I see a ton of articles about people pigging out when they’re stressed . But when I’m stressed or sad, I want nothing to do with food…which is insane considering that I’m always hungry. What is it about people that lead them to divert from their normal eating patterns when under emotional/mental duress?

I came across this great article on Psychology Today that explains why many people overeat or eat junk foods when stressed out. In a nutshell this is why:

  • stressful situation —>body releases the hormone cortisol —>body becomes super alert, attentive, and ready for danger—when the danger has passed, cortisol system shuts down —>body returns to normal

The above is what happens during short-term stressful situations; long-term, or chronic stress is where the friggin’ problem lies:

  • long-term stress = cortisol system does not shut down.
  • your body continues to need extra energy reserves—>craves fatty, sugary foods to build up these reserves—> fatty sugary foods stored in abdomen for quick use by the body.
  • when the body receives these foods + no more stress = signal to shut down cortisol release (hence the name ‘comfort foods’)

BUT, our lives today have evolved such that we are almost always under some form of stress —>we keep releasing cortisol—>we keep craving fatty, sugary foods—>it gets stored in our abdomen but doesn’t get used up like it should because we keep feeding our bodies these comfort foods. Its a blasted sick cycle if you ask me.

So how do we calm our bodies down without out eating pure sh!t? Exercise, yoga, meditation, and sex. In general, anything that calms you down and relaxes you.

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One Response

  1. Just as a side note… Changes in eating patterns are also a symptom of depression. Even though stress can contribute to depression, many people often (consciously or unconsciously) attribute depressive-like symptoms to stress because it is more socially acceptable.

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