Brenda Nicholson

Are You a Stress Eater?

Right now, my stomach hurts.

I am a stress eater. I am not one of those people who can’t eat when stressed. If I were, I probably wouldn’t exist.

And it turns out that it doesn’t matter what you eat when you are stressed. Healthy food — in large enough quantities — will make you just as sick as cookies and cake. At least that’s my experience.

Why do we eat when we’re stressed?

I learned from Harvard Health that stress causes the adrenal glands to release certain hormones.

Short-term stress causes the release of a hormone (epinephrine) that suppresses appetite.

But continued stress causes a different hormone (cortisol) to be released, which increases our appetite, especially for comfort foods like sugar and carbs.

Interestingly, this affects women more than men. Men are more likely to turn to alcohol or smoking. However, there seems to be an increase in the number of women having a “glass or two” of wine each night.

How do we implement a better solution?

Harvard Health suggests meditation, exercise, or reaching out to someone.

Those are all excellent suggestions, and I think the best approach would be to use them in combination.

I would also add journaling to the list. Like the suggestions above, writing things out helps you get it off of your mind for a bit and lets you explore all of your worries at your will.

The sensible approach would be to do what you can and let go of the rest. But can we?

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