How many times a day do you tell yourself, ‘I can’t have that’ or ‘I shouldn’t do this’? These may seem like innocent thoughts but they can actually have an impact on stress levels, and in turn our bodies.
We often think lack of willpower is to blame for not passing up food we think we shouldn’t eat, but what if there is a biological reason for some cravings? The stress response dates back to evolutionary times when people were in physical danger. Our stress response hasn’t evolved so our bodies don’t know the difference between physical danger and stress. Therefore it responds with a hormonal reaction that can make us feel hungry. When under stress the hormone cortisol is released, which can trigger cravings for sugary, salty, fatty and high carb foods. We crave sugar and carbs specifically because it’s the fuel our muscles need when we go into ‘fight or flight mode’.
Aside from common day-to-day stress there are other factors that increase cortisol levels, some of which may not be obvious, including:
Reducing the amount of stress we put on ourselves will increase our immune system and decrease emotional distress. Here are four tips to help:
Anything new that you try should feel comfortable but challenging. If you feel a sense of striving, gearing up or straining you may want to pull back as you are taking on too many changes. You may not be ready to use all of these tips right away, but start with the ones you are ready for and build from there.
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