We all know what it is like. We have a stressful event or day and the first thing we want is that favorite food, a glass of wine or maybe it’s whatever food we have in our sight.
Have you ever wondered why we immediately turn to food when things are not going as planned? The culprit, surprisingly enough, is our hormones. These hormones, usually termed “Stress hormones” play havoc on our bodies natural ability to regulate hunger and blood sugar levels. These hormones make us crave high-fat, sugary “comfort foods” to help sooth us.
So what is this nasty hormone? Cortisol. Released by the adrenal gland, cortisol controls appetite. In times of stress the levels of cortisol increase in the bloodstream and motivates us to eat. When the event is over the levels decrease and our hunger subsides. However, if the stress continues the cortisol levels remain elevated. When combined with high insulin levels (created by the excess intake of sugar and carbohydrates – but that is another story), the body enters a state of chaos – decreased focus, increased hunger, increased blood sugar levels/increased risk for diabetes, weight gain, increased blood pressure – and the list goes on.
Chronic stress is increasing with today’s busy society. We are constantly, what I like to call “ON”. From the moment we rise, until we finally enter sleep – our bodies are dealing with the stresses of the world around us. Driving, work, money, relationships, kids and all that comes with social media in and of itself. It is no wonder we naturally turn to food to help us self-sooth. Food has been the comfort we have received since childhood for our upsets, physical pain and stress. Media tells us to eat ice cream and cake when we have relationship problems or have a glass of wine to unwind after a stressful day. This plays into our bodies natural response created by the cortisol.
The solution? How do we stop turning to food to reduce and deal with our everyday stresses.
Tune in to part 2 in 2 weeks as we explore the stages of chronic stress, how to recognize them and how to deal with it a healthier way.
Sports Dietitian at Evolved Sport and Nutrition - Niagara/ Hamilton
Health and Wellness through Healthy Eating