Deadline at work? You eat. An argument with a friend? You eat. Can’t decide what to have for dinner? Well, I guess you better grab a snack while you figure this whole thing out…Eating is the way we fuel our bodies but it is so much more than that – the complex emotional relationship between you and what’s on your plate is tough to unravel and for some of us, one thing is more likely to trigger overeating than anything else – stress.
When we are stressed our body produces a substance called cortisol as part of the fight or flight response. This is a hormone that gives us the energy boost we need to tackle the stressor in front of us. It’s an evolutionary response, but in 2019 it is much more likely to be a spreadsheet causing us to tear our hair out than a woolly mammoth. In small doses – cortisol can be a good thing – keeping us energised and focused, but unfortunately for us modern humans, constant high levels of stress have been linked to weight gain and overeating. This is because cortisol causes a craving for high carbohydrate foods to power our response to the stressor we are facing.
If you choose to feed that craving every time you feel stress you are likely to become stuck in a cycle of binge eating and weight gain. And that short hit of something sugary will only give you short-term relief, meaning that you eat more and more to tackle the emotional and physical effects of stress.
You probably get that this cycle of eating is pretty bad for you, but how do you stop it, and how can you deal with stress when your body is literally telling you to fill up on junk?
Yep, the best stress beating thing you can do for your body is to move it. Endorphins released during a brisk walk or sweat-inducing hit session produces a natural high that can leave you feeling happy and destressed. And you don’t need to hit the gym for a full session every time you feel your stress levels rising, even taking a walk around the block can help you to regain your zen.
Shift Your Focus
If all you can think about is food when your feeling under pressure, it is time to think tactics. Develop a destressing routine that includes the things you love to do – from a calm-inducing bath to a meditative skincare routine or relaxing playlist. The things that bring you peace may be very personal to you but food doesn’t have to be the answer to every high-pressure day.
Curb Hunger Before it Hits
The effects of stress hunger will be much more intense if you haven’t eaten properly to start with. When we are busy, we often skip meals to save on time – but this is only going to perpetuate a destructive eating cycle. Eat healthy foods in small portions regularly to keep you feeling satiated throughout the day.
Taking the time to stop and breathe is one of the best ways to combat stress. And there is no fancy routine you have to follow – all you need is a quiet space and a few minutes. Close your eyes and take a handful of deep slow breaths, in and out. Try to let your mind go quiet and feel your body start to unwind. You can meditate anywhere and even a very short practice can have a huge impact on stress levels.
What’s on your fitness to-do list this weekend? I hope you have some fun active time planned to help you keep your stress levels in control. If you’re looking for a stress-free space to get your sweat on, we can help. At FitFusion PT, we have everything you need to feel like your very best self. Get in touch to talk personal training or sign up to a fun group session. Until next time, stay amazing.