When we experience stress, it triggers a response in our body you may have heard called the fight or flight response. From this response, the production of hormones named adrenaline and cortisol are produced. Adrenaline triggers your body to take action. Stress-related levels of cortisol triggers an increase in appetite.
So whether its pizza, fries, or chocolates you reach for – the common denominator will be high fat, high sugar and high carbohydrate.
Why? Well, foods that tend to have a high fat, sugary or carbohydrate content trigger bursts of the positive mood-enhancing neurotransmitter serotonin within your brain, this happy hormone satisfies us initially. Studies have found that stress not only increases consumption in certain individuals but also shifts their food choice from lower fat to higher fat foods.
Frequently reaching for these food groups as a way to cope with life’s stressors will in turn lead to a lack of mindfulness with our food habits, weight gain and low self-esteem.
So it’s important we recognise that this is not the best way to cope. Instead, develop an awareness between real, physical hunger versus emotional hunger for when we need it most.