Why Do You Eat?

Posted: April 2, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Why do you eat? This is probably a question you never even asked yourself before. Typically when we answer this we fall into two different categories; nutritional need and emotional need. Most people after reading those two responses will immediately pick the nutritinal need, but is that true?

Do you grab that chocolate chip cookie or bread product because of nutritional value? Probably not. Our lifestyles affect how we make these choices about food. When we are stressed there are hormones that get released into our bloodstream. One hormone, Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH), suppresses hunger to get us ready to fight or flight. Another group of hormones called glucocorticoids are also released and they make us hungry.

CRH is released right away and is cleared from the system almost immediately after the stressor is gone. Glucocorticoids take a few minutes to get released and can last in the system for hours after a stressor has left. Now what happens if we are stressed throughout the day?

Due to glucocorticoids taking an extended amount of time to exit the blood we get chronically high amounts of them. This leads to an increased hunger response. As I have mentioned in previous posts on food addiction, in this scenerio our cravings will set in and we will reach for that chocolate chip cookie. This is prototypical “stress eating.” Stress eating is a form of emotional eating and can lead to obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Next time you go into the cupboard to grab a snack ask yourself why you are picking that food. If you are picking it because it has high nutritional value go for it. If you are picking it because you have a craving for something try to take a step back and think of what may be causing stress levels to be elevated. This can be a simple technique in helping to identify and manage your stressors. If you realize you have had a rough day at work and that stress may be leading to increased appetite, spend 15 minutes meditating and then revisit the snack.


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