We’ve all done it. Work gets hectic, all those bills come due at the same time, and then the car breaks down. So you splurge on one of those brownies for your kid’s bake sale, or one of those donuts in the break room. Or two. It’s called stress eating – and there’s actually more to it than you might think.
How Prevalent Is Stress, Exactly?
It might not surprise you to know that stress is pretty common – but you might not realize how common it is. Last year, 24% of adults in the U.S. reported “extreme stress” – and while you might say that’s barely 1/4 of people, consider that the year before, only 18$ reported that number.
So How Does Stress Affect Our Need To Eat?
Stress causes our adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, and more cortisol leads to bigger appetites. Cortisol also leads to a bigger desire for foods that are high in sugar and fats. How many of us crave carrots when we’re stressed? Anyone? No one? Thought so.
So Why Is Junk Our Go-To Stress Food?
For most of us, junk food often means carbs – bread, baked goods, pasta. It’s not just because those things are delicious. Ingesting carbs stimulates the reward systems in our brains, which makes us feel better and happier – and therefore less stressed. So that’s why we actually can feel better after indulging in a major carbohydrate binge. It’s science!
How Do We Keep From Succumbing To Stress Eating?
Sometimes, you don’t. Sometimes nothing but that last piece of birthday cake will do. And that’s okay. Stress is an unfortunate part of life, and if all else fails to calm you down, splurge a little. Next time, though, now tat you know why you’re craving those carbs, try fooling your taste buds with something that tastes like a treat, but isn’t – like fruit or one of these healthy fats. Or even try focusing on the goals you’re trying to reach with your health. Thinking about that damn swimsuit you want to fit into, or that high school reunion you want to look great for might be just the thing to combat those cravings.