Why Stress Makes You Crave Junk Food (and Hard To Lose Weight)
Stress can make us crave the foods we shouldn’t be eating if we need to lose weight.
Is it possible to counteract these ancient habits that control us still today?
Yes, we CAN learn to outsmart stress and eat food that’s good for us so we can reach our ideal weight.
Are you one of those people who crave foods when under stress? Or when life isn’t going so well?
Maybe you feel a little overwhelmed in your job or business.
Why do we always seek comfort from food when we feel this way? WHY?
The things is, I’ve never heard anyone craving salads or other nutritious food when they’re stressed, have you? It’s always the sugary, carb laced, sweet stuff we reach for. So delicious and comforting right?
Well, If you’re going to beat this stress eating cycle, you need to fully understand it.
Let’s discuss some of the causes of stress eating and take a look at what we can do about it.
1 – It’s Easier To Reach For Junk Food When You’re Busy
Stress eating can be caused by a number of things. Some are complicated biological events. But, let’s keep it simple first, okay?
Eating junk food when you’re stressed is more convenient. You don’t have to do much, prepare anything or use much brain power. You have too much going on and you’re busy so it’s easier, cheaper, and more efficient to just pull into the drive-through on your way home or have takeout delivered.
It frees up time and you don’t need to prep, cook, and clean up. Who wants to do all that when you’re under stress, right?
Of course you could actually still pick up some healthier choices for takeout these days. But a stressed mind isn’t a rational mind. And there’s nothing like processed, flavored, high-carb foods to give you that instant endorphin-filled satisfaction. Yum!
Looking at it rationally though, poor diet choices like fast food aren’t any cheaper than healthier options these days. It’s a common misconception that comes from paying for fast food one meal at a time. It seems less expensive than buying fresh food.
Even though you might pay more cash at the supermarket than a fast-food outlet, you get a lot more quality food.
Okay, there’s no arguing that fast food is faster than home-made food. But, there some ways around that. Like making home cooking more time-efficient by “meal prepping.” You can prepare bigger batches of food and keep them in the fridge or freezer until you need it. You’ll have pre-made food ready to go.
Doing it like this will help you save time in the long run. You can have homemade food you can take with you. This reduces the temptation of buying fast-food while you’re out.
2 – When You’re Stressed You’ll Naturally Crave Bad Foods
It would be awesome if all of the issues with stress eating were only about time and money. But, that’s not how it is.
Many of your moods and physiological functions are caused by hormones. Your body releases them in response to different kinds of external factors. One is a hormone called “cortisol.” It gets pumped into your blood when you’re stressed. It controls how you eat and what your body does with that food.
The stress response is an evolutionary function from the times we had to fight or run from all our problems. Problems like saber-toothed tigers trying to make a meal of us etc. You’ve probably heard of this fight-or-flight response right?
But, life isn’t usually so bad these days. Survival is generally much easier these days for many of us. But, it’s still how our bodies react to stress. So, when you’re always fighting or running from your problems, your body needs lots of energy.
That’s where the stress-hormone cortisol comes in. It makes you crave foods that are high in fats and carbs.
It’s not something that you can just use your willpower on to get rid of it. But, you CAN work around it. When you start to crave carbs and fats, just give your body the healthiest carbs and fats that you can find from sources like fruits and whole grains instead of from junk food.
3 – Why Does Junk Food Make Me Feel So Good
It doesn’t make sense right? Why cause yourself all that trouble of putting on excessive weight?
It’s all about genetics. We’re all genetically predisposed to a carb and fat addiction that’s very ingrained.
This relates back to our ancient ancestors and some other types of chemical messengers. These chemical messengers are called “neurotransmitters.” They have many different functions. One of these functions is that they set up your body’s own reward system.
When you do something that your body thinks is good for you, it rewards you by filling your head with feel-good neurotransmitters to try to reinforce that action. This’ll ensure you continue the action.
Finding foods high in fats, sugars, and carbs was very rare and very important for our ancient ancestors. So what happened was, when they found a good source of these nutrients, they got a shot of feel-good brain chemicals to encourage them to continue finding those foods. It’s how habits are formed.
The trouble is that foods high in fats, sugars, and other carbs are so much easier to come across these days. But, we still get that nice feeling when we eat them. Now you know why, when you’re feeling down, sweets can help to pick you up.
The same applies with this issue like the last one. Give your body carbs and fats from healthy sources like fruits and plant oils. Try to find other things that satisfy your body’s internal reward system, and do those things instead.
For example, exercise releases the feel-good hormones too. It’s good for your physical and emotional health in many positive ways as well.
You’re definitely at a big disadvantage when it comes to stress eating. You can’t always turn those cravings off. But, you can definitely outsmart them. Try to satisfy your body’s needs in healthier ways. Over time you’ll form a great habit that will get easier and easier to stick to.