Why does Stress Affect Eating Habits

Research shows the relationship between stress and food. In times of stress, people usually look for high-calorie or high-fat foods. In fact, when you are stressed, your body can also save more fat. Therefore, stress, increased food intake and more fat storage can cause you to be overweight.

Many adults report that they are a group of people who eat under pressure, that is, eat too much, or eat unhealthy food when they feel stressed. According to him, this eating behavior makes him more able to cope with the pressure he feels. Others also report that they eat to help control stress. Obviously, stress has a great influence on your eating behavior, from the appetite for meals, the amount of food you eat, to the choice of food.

Stress can interfere with the balance of the body. Therefore, the body responds to stress and restores balance by producing a physiological response. When you feel stressed, a disturbed balance of the body is the physiological body related to food intake.

How does stress change eating behavior?
A person’s eating behavior can be changed to cope with stress. It depends on how much pressure you feel. There are two types of stress, namely:

Acute stress, stress only happens temporarily-in a short time. For example, pressure due to road congestion. You can easily deal with this pressure.
Chronic stress is more difficult for you to deal with when you encounter a big problem related to your life. This pressure will last longer.

The body’s response to acute stress
When you experience acute stress, most of the signals in the brain release some stress hormones, such as adrenaline  and norepinephrine in the adrenal glands. These hormones then trigger a “fight or flight” response, such as increased heart rate, increased breathing, breakdown of fats and carbohydrates, and increased blood pressure. At the same time, the body slows down its physiological functions, such as blood flow into the digestive system, appetite and food intake. Therefore, during acute stress, you are more likely to lose your appetite.

The body’s response to chronic stress
When your body experiences chronic stress, the hypothalamus (the center of the brain that controls stress) instructs the pituitary gland to release corticotropin (ACTH) to the adrenal cortex. If chronic stress is severe enough and lasts long enough, it can lead to an increase in the hormone cortisol, which can stimulate appetite during the recovery from chronic stress. Therefore, in a severely stressed person, their appetite will increase, so he eats more, and he will regard food as food that can bring him peace.

With the help of insulin (higher content), cortisol can also activate lipoprotein lipase and inhibit the breakdown of triglycerides, leading to increased fat reserves. Chronic stress has been shown to increase abdominal fat accumulation in women. So, when you experience chronic stress, in addition to increased appetite, your body is more likely to store more fat. Therefore, gaining weight or obesity will put you to shame.

Stress can also affect dietary choices
Stress also seems to affect your dietary choices. When stress is too high, you are more likely to choose foods with high calorie content, so this also helps to gain weight. Foods that contain high levels of fat and/or sugar may bring happiness to people under stress.

The level of the hormone cortisol combined with high insulin may play a role in the choice of this diet. Other studies have shown that ghrelin (a hormone that triggers hunger) can cause this condition. Another theory also says that fat and sugar seem to have an effect, inhibiting the activity of the part of the brain that generates and processes stress.

in conclusion
So stress can affect your eating behavior in two ways. When experiencing stress in a short period of time, a small part of you may lose appetite. At the same time, most people respond to stress by increasing food intake under severe stress.

Research by Dallman (2005) shows that people who are overweight tend to eat more when experiencing chronic stress compared to people who are normal or lean. Other studies have shown that people who are on a diet or often skipping food are more likely to eat more under stress than those who do not diet or limit food intake.