Recent scientific studies have shown that stress has a direct result on weight, be it over eating or under-eating. Experiments on volunteers at the Cambridge University found serotonin levels affect the amygdale region in the brain, which makes us angry.
The experiments involved recording the brain’s reaction while viewing angry, sad and neutral facial expressions. Feed with diets which either raised the level of serotonin, or lowered it, they were able to conclude that when the body starts to feel hungry, levels of serotonin fall, causing a flux of emotions to burst forward from the amygdale part of the brain which causes us to become anxious, stressed and angry.
The conclusion is quite simple really. To stop your serotonin levels from falling and as a consequence, making us angry and stressed, stock up on foods which boost the serotonin levels, such as pumpkin seeds, walnuts, avocado, dates and bananas.
Making the right food choices?
At a recent British Association of Anger Management intensive weekend course, Mike Fisher commented that all the biscuits were being eaten, while all the fruit wasn’t. This is predictable because when stressed, the body craves food that is high in fat or sugar.
Serotonin is a chemical which makes your body feel good, and this is exactly what we want to feel when we are stressed, angry and depressed. All too often, we’ll reach for the carbohydrates in the form of muffins, doughnuts and biscuits to comfort ourselves, when we should be reaching for fruit and nuts. This is where the conflict arises. When we are stressed we don’t make the best choices and this includes what we eat.
Getting angry and stressed takes up a lot of energy and we eat into our natural reserves. As stress is being linked with weight issues, we need a greater understanding of the connection between stress and weight to combat the obesity epidemic facing the country.
Stress is a part of modern day life and by understanding the mechanics of our minds and bodies, we are more equipped to deal with our stress and see it for what it really is.
What is the connection between stress and blood sugar?
When we are stressed our body works overtime to cope, by releasing a mixture of hormones, namely epinephrine and adrenaline, which gives us the energy to reach the end of the day.
The body also releases glucose which is of special interest to diabetics, because for diabetics the amount of glucose in their blood is too high.
Even though stress hasn’t been proven to cause diabetes, it has been proven to trigger changes in blood sugar levels which can be a problem for people with diabetes.
Mental or emotional stress has mixed effects, depending on the type of diabetes you have. For type 1 diabetes, mental stress can increase or decrease blood sugar levels and for type 2 diabetes, mental stress generally increases blood sugar levels.
Dealing with your stress?
It’s now evident that dealing with stress is the biggest obstacle we have in finding our inner peace and happiness. Stress comes at us from all angles and it’s only natural that the challenge may seem daunting.
But think again: Other than regular exercise, mediation and Mike Fisher’s intensive weekend courses; your diet can play the ultimate role in reducing stress.
Like millions in the UK, we reach for high-fat, high-sugar snacks when we’re feeling down. But don’t think you are alone in doing so. You aren’t. We are all prone to comfort eating.
The good news is that you now have the information to break the cycle and to break the habit.
It really is as simple as making better food choices.