“My job is so stressful,” “My boss is driving me crazy,” “This commute is the most stressful thing on the planet,” “I’ll never pass this test, I’m so stressed out over it.” Sound familiar? Of course it does, because we all think these inaccurate thoughts.
Inaccurate? Duh. Sure, they are inaccurate. You see, these thoughts put the responsibility for feeling stressed on some outside event, work, the boss, the traffic or the test. Yet we know full well that there is no such thing as stress until and unless you think about events in a way that creates it and invites it to live in your head.
As if stressful thinking isn’t enough of a problem, that thinking is also creating the need to go shopping for new clothes. Huh? Because those thoughts are slowly but surely adding weight around your middle, and everywhere else.
In the face of stress-creating thoughts, our brain-body connection typically first curtails our appetites, but as short-term stress turns into daily chronic stress, our neuroendocrine system doesn’t do us any favors. Adrenaline, corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) and a disrupted cortisol rhythm go to work and, over time, increase our appetites, causing us to have more active and passive eating as we sit and stew. Get that? Sit. We expend fewer calories while we are busy eating more and more, irrationally thinking this relieves stress. That’s emotional eating or “above the neck,” at it’s best.
All of this stress-inducing thinking and cortisol raises our blood sugar, creates cravings, reduces our ability to actually burn fat, increases the rate at which we store fat, causes hormonal imbalances, leaves our cells less sensitive to insulin, increases abdominal fat (the most risky for our health) and raises our levels of fat and triglycerides. Enjoy the picture of a growing risk for “diabesity”?
This type of emotional stress-related eating has several key indicators:
1. It comes on suddenly and is urgent (“I must eat right now”).
2. It’s often for a specific food rather than for different foods (“I have to have pizza and nothing else will do”).
3. It’s based in your thoughts about a certain food instead of on rumblings in your stomach (“I can’t stop thinking of that cupcake”).
4. It’s based on an emotion such as stress, instead of a physical need (“I’m so stressed I have to eat something to calm down”).
5. Feeling full doesn’t stop the eating (“I’m still upset so I’ll still eat”).
6. The eating is often mindless or automatic (“I didn’t even realize I ate that doughnut”).
7. Often ends with guilt-feelings (“I can’t believe I ate that whole pizza…ugh”).
The best thing we can do is PREVENT,
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