People who are tired, sleepy, and stressed out often turn to food to help them get through a rough work week. This, of course, isn’t healthy because overeating and indulging in sweets and unhealthy food can wreak havoc on the body.
Studies have shown a marked increase in obesity in American and have identified stress as one of the causes. Stress can trigger the body’s neuroendocrine system to release hormones. The so called “fight or flight” response tells stress hormones to mobilize stored energy to the muscles. It increases heart rates and blood pressure but shuts down vital metabolic functions. Adrenaline suppresses appetite but only temporarily. After the adrenaline drops, a person will feel more hungry than ever –leading to overeating and, ultimately, weight gain.
Repeat this process over and over, and you’ll often see 20 to 30 pounds of extra weight accumulate in a few short years. Gaining weight can cause a multitude of problems, including high blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. While stress is an inevitable part of life, there are several ways to combat it without resorting to overeating. Here are just a few:
- Cardiovascular Activity. Getting a natural high is the best way to combat stress. Cardiovascular activity can release“happy hormones” (such as serotonin, endorphins, etc.) which fight tension without encouraging overeating. Try to find an activity that you enjoy such as biking, swimming, rock climbing, or even playing paintball.
- Yoga or Pilates. Relaxing activities such as Pilates and yoga can allow a person to experience peace and calm and achieve life balance.
- Pampering. Instead of shopping or eating, try rewarding yourself periodically with a trip to a spa for a massage or facial. The massage can help relieve strain and pressure and also promote well-being. Manicures or pedicures can have a similar effect.
Turning to food in reaction to stress is a dangerous habit that can lead to serious health problems in the future. Be mindful of your eating habits, and learn to take a step back in productive ways when things become too difficult to handle.