Studies that have examined the associations between stress and eating behaviours have also found that high stress levels are an important risk factor for the development of many types of addictions, including food addictions.
Thus, stress may contribute to an increased risk for obesity and other metabolic diseases that are tied to eating hyper-palatable, high-calorie foods that have rewarding, mood-boosting qualities (like those that are highly processed, high-fat, and/or high in sugar).
That’s because as stress decreases levels of “happy hormones,” such as serotonin, we crave more comfort and pleasure from the release of neurotransmitters tied to rewarding (eating) experiences.
- STRESS CONTRIBUTES TO DIGESTIVE DISORDERS
Stress is one of the leading causes of digestive complaints and disorders, including constipation or diarrhoea (both commonly associated with having “IBS”), acid reflux, and intolerances to FODMAP foods. That’s because stress can increase inflammation, which can damage tissue in the gastrointestinal tract, thus interfering with proper nutrient absorption and increasing many other symptoms tied to leaky gut syndrome.
Not only will you not feel your best when dealing with indigestion, but all of these problems can make it tough to continue eating a variety of high-fibre, whole foods, which are critical for healthy weight loss.
Additionally, lacking certain nutrients, (due to malabsorption) might ramp up your appetite in an attempt for your body to get the vitamins and minerals it needs.
And, of course, overeating due to stress can also cause digestive discomfort. Studies have found that increased stress hormones can disturb signals received via the appetite hormones which alert you when it’s time to eat and help guide how much you consume.
Recent research suggests ghrelin secretion is “intensely responsive to both acute and chronic stress.
- STRESS MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO STAY ACTIVE
While it’s possible to lose some weight simply by eating a healthier diet, staying active is usually essential for weight maintenance, feeling fully confident in your body, and maintaining overall health as you age.
Because stress increases inflammation and weakens the immune system, it can also contribute to symptoms that interfere with sustaining an active lifestyle—like lack of energy, slowed workout recovery, frequent illness, and the development of pain, soreness and/or stiffness in your muscles and joints
- STRESS CAN LEAD TO BRAIN-FOG, MOODINESS & LOW WILLPOWER
One of cortisol’s roles is to channel glucose in the blood (obtained from sources of carbohydrates in your diet) to your muscles in order to deal with perceived threats or sources of stress.
When we are under constant stress and glucose is being diverted to address these potential threats, this leaves less energy, or fuel, for brain activity and mood stabilization.
Studies have found that hormonal changes due to stress can negatively affect your ability to access memories, prevent you from creating new ones, and decrease your ability to form new, healthier habits.
While stressed, you’re also more likely to revert to older habits at the expense of engaging in goal-directed behaviours. This can block your ability to start associating exercise and/or a healthy diet with improvements in your mood and well-being, leaving you much less motivated to keep putting in the necessary effort.
The effects of stress on the body should not be taken lightly. What can you do to improve your stress management? Even simple things like having a morning routine or switching to healthy snacks can help you reduce stress.
Exercise is another effective way to manage stress. Strength training is an excellent way to not only get stronger but also de stress!
Find the strategies that work for you so you can avoid developing symptoms of stress and improve your peace of mind.