Wondering how stress affects your resolve to lose weight? A new survey finds that if you’re a frequent dieter, you’re more likely to indulge in stress eating. What’s more, those who indulge during stressful times tend to pig out on calorie filled, fat laden junk foods.
Researchers suggested some dieters tips, including indulging in the occasional slice of cake might just make you less likely to binge on cake during a stressful time.
The thing is, if you’re always dieting, you might just give up when you’re feeling stressed – eating what you want, when you want it. It’s human nature, after all, to want to feel good, or avoid feeling bad. Food does this for many of us, and over time the association of food with love and good feelings grows so strong that it fuels cravings for years to come. Soon it feels unnatural not to eat as a response to stress.
Chronic stress keeps the body’s natural systems on high alert, ramping up the production of stress hormone cortisol, and one of the responses to long term stress is to search out very pleasurable foods… high energy choices with lots of fat and sugar. These foods help your body maintain its reserves and cope, and eventually dampen down the output of the stress system.
Earlier research has found that stress does cause biological as well as psychological changes that impact the kind of foods we crave and what we eat.
To understand more about food consumption and stress, the research team recruited 158 adult subjects to complete a question survey that uncovered some interesting things about stress eating.
Everyone in the survey who ate under stress also reported that they chose foods that were more calorific and were higher in fat, salt, carbs and sugar during these times.
Other findings of the survey include…
- Just 20% of respondents said they followed the same eating pattern whether stressed or not, about 40% ate less when stressed, 40% ate more.
Stress overeaters had a much higher chance of being on a diet lasting at least 2 weeks, and yet they had wider waistlines, bigger hips and were heavier, on average, compared with those who didn’t eat under stress.
Stress overeaters eat even unhealthier foods than those who don’t eat when stressed… the overeaters under stress preferred chocolate, candy or another sweets when stressed.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, 40% of people who eat less under stress craved fruits, veggies and cheese during a stressful time.
In the long run, when it comes to stress eating and your weight loss goals, one of the best dieters tips is to figure how to manage the inevitable upheaval and tension with things other than food… exercise, deep breathing, a walk outside, time with a pet… whatever works for you.
It also helps to make the effort to learn about your feelings and what might be triggering them. Negative emotions, despite what you’ve been told, or told yourself, aren’t bad. They’re simply giving you a message that something isn’t right… what’s stressing you out or what needs to change. Ignoring the problem only makes things worse.