Hands up who eats when they are stressed? Cue a Mexican wave of hands. Stress it seems is the biggest, baddest saboteur when it comes to your weight loss goals.
At New You HQ we recognise that there are many reasons why our customers have gained weight. Perhaps they are on medication which increases appetite, or they are going through a relationship break up. Perhaps they are caring for an elderly relative which impacts on time. One thing which stands out as a determining factor for New You customers is the impact of stress on their eating habits.
There is so much truth behind the phrase “stress eating.” Stress, the hormones it unleashes, and the effects of high-fat, sugary “comfort foods” push people toward overeating. Researchers have linked weight gain to stress, and according to recent research around 25% of us rate our stress level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale.
In the short term, stress can shut down appetite. The nervous system sends messages to the adrenal glands atop the kidneys to pump out the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). Epinephrine helps trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response, a revved-up physiological state that temporarily puts eating on hold.
But if stress persists, it’s a different story. The adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases appetite and may also ramp up motivation in general, including the motivation to eat. Once a stressful episode is over, cortisol levels should fall, but