We’ve all been there, after a long-day of work or school – unwinding might include not cooking and instead just ordering a pizza. It’s easy after all – but it is the best option for trying to maintain a healthy weight?
Stress causes major different chemical changes in our bodies. This usually manifests itself by the flood of hormones that cause us to change our behaviors.
In this article, we will explore why and how to be more aware when stressed out.
What happens when we’re stressed?
It all starts with cortisol. This hormone is released into the bloodstream every time you are stressed. Cortisol increases heart rate, blood pressure, and makes you more aware of your surroundings. This is called the flight or fight response.
It’s written in our DNA – our ancestors found this bodily response hugely useful to give the body additional energy in important times such as when we are in danger. However, in today’s modern world, stress and this response is just a part of normal life.
Deadlines, social media, staying up to date with your friends, and responsibilities increase the amount of cortisol released by our bodies.
To push it even further, cortisol releases high amounts of glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream, to help fight the danger that you are unconsciously facing. Using your reserves very quickly.
After the flight-or-fight response is over, your body works extra hard to replenish all the lost energy.
Cravings and fatty foods
As the flight-or-fight response passes, your body tells you that more energy is needed. This is when you realize you are hungry. But then, you are also exhausted because you were probably stressed for a substantial amount of the day.
So, you go for the easy (and tasty) option – usually a burger, pizza, and generally foods high in carbs. Plus, the feel-good chemicals of eating junk food might make you feel way better.
There you have it, extra calories equal weight gain. Popular junk foods today are made with massive amounts of sugars and fat – things that are required for the body to function (in normal amounts.)
What to do to avoid weight gain?
Stress can be unavoidable sometimes. Breathing and meditation are useful tools to treat the root cause and make you feel calmer in intense moments. When you are stressed, take a few minutes, stand aside, and do a few deep breaths.
Another useful tool is to prepare your meals at the start of your day or to have the ingredients ready before the week starts. This will make it easier when coming home, as the hardest part of cooking is removed from your to-dos.
Having healthy snacks such as protein bars, peanuts or fruit can also help to curve your food cravings. Doing it in-between meals such as in the afternoon can help you eat less later at night.