Do You Get Hungry Under Pressure?


Stressed Man with Starving Look

Humans, and all animals, deal with fear. While fear is a focused response to present, clear danger, anxiety isn’t. Humans have the unique ability to use their memory and imaging to move both forward, which includes anticipating an event, and backwards, which involves remembering a previous event.

Anxiety, an emotional response that humans often deal with, is characterized by physical changes, such as blood pressure increases, tense feelings, and worried thoughts. When you are stressed, whether it’s dealing with a big test in college, a huge deadline on the job, or the presence of real danger, your body releases both cortisol and adrenalin. The release of cortisol and adrenalin results in a burst of energy that changes the way the manages insulin and sugar levels in the bloodstream.

Unfortunately, once that boost of adrenalin is over, you’re still left with extra cortisol, which stimulates the appetite, leaving you hungry. The problem is that if you eat at this point, it’s probably going to be stored as fat around your middle known as visceral fat. This type of fat is linked to weight gain, diabetes, and even heart disease.

While occasional overeating due to stress and pressure probably won’t have a long-term impact on your overall health, chronic stress that results and chronic overeating can have a negative impact on your weight and your health. When stressed, many people turn to unhealthy foods, such as burgers, chips, and other processed options. The good news is that you can tell the difference between real hunger and stress-induced hunger. If you feel like you have to eat right away or you crave a specific food, it’s likely stress-induced hunger.

It’s impossible to completely avoid stress today, but you can take measures to manage stress. Eating healthy foods, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly can help you lower stress levels and the risk of overeating due to stress and pressure.

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