How Stress affects your Appetite

Stress and AppetiteStress and Appetite, What’s the Connection?

One of the biggest clichés in TV and movies is that of people heading for a big old tub of ice cream when the going gets tough. It’s enough to make you believe that a healthy dose of mint chocolate chip would be enough to cure all that ails, but you may be surprised to learn that there is a connection between stress and eating patterns. Despite what Hollywood might suggest, if you were to ask the average person about the connection between stress and appetite, most would likely believe that it would be weight loss that was most closely connected with high levels of stress.

Types of Stress and their Effects on your Appetite:

The opposite is in fact true, with a mere 10% of those who deal with stress losing weight in the process. The remainder is the ones that use food to cope, but before we get to that, let’s take a look at the minority. The 10% that shed a few pounds due to stress usually do so because of the type of stress that they are under. This is known as acute stress, which is usually something that is around for the short-term only. When that type of stress hits, it usually takes up all of your attention, causing you to focus all of your attention on it. The mind then basically shuts out the need to do anything else, which includes the need to feed.

The reason that the number of people who lose weight due to stress is so low is because it’s the other form of stress (chronic) that is far more prevalent. You may already be wondering how it is that different forms of stress can have such different effects on the body, but it is actually fairly easily explained. Acute stress cases the body to release adrenaline so that it can attack the issue head on, whereas with chronic stress, the brain recognizes that it may be in for the long haul and seeks to conserve energy for the road ahead.

How your Brain reacts to Stress

The brain, sensing the need for energy, then sends a message to the body to start loading up on high fat, high sugar content that will deliver the energy required. Much of this happens subconsciously, which means that you will be eating foods that you normally wouldn’t, without really fully understanding why that craving is there in the first place. It’s well known that these types of foods have an addictive quality to them, so before you know it, you have packed on the pounds without really doing anything to solve your stress problem.

What your Brain may be Telling You

The human brain is a magnificent piece of “machinery,” but it’s one that can often drive us to do things that we don’t necessarily want to. It can also send us messages that can help us if we learn to recognize the signs. The connection between stress and appetite is actually a perfect example of the brain in motion. When you see how your weight is affected by the stress you are feeling, you will now understand that it’s your brain actually telling you which type of stress, chronic or acute, that you are suffering from.

In This Together,

Coach Eric Hollingsworth
P90X, PiYo Certified Fitness Coach

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