There’s a connection between stress, appetite, and sugar intake.
A study in 2001 took a look at this issue. The researchers exposed 59 premenopausal women to stress on one day and then had them experience a low-stress day. The caloric consumption on the stressful and non-stressful days were recorded. Some of the women had a very high cortisol spike on the stressful day. These participants were called super reactors. In contrast, there are some people who are “low reactors” to stress.
It makes the point that it’s often not the stressor that’s the biggest problem; it’s the reaction to it.
The women with the highest cortisol spikes in response to stress had the highest calorie consumption. The calories came primarily from sweet foods.
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In other words, life events can trigger physiological reactions in the body that lead to sugar cravings. People who are highly stressed often make the wrong call when it comes to food and drink choices. They reach for sweet foods. They reach for soda pop.
The take-home message is that it’s essential to not only reduce the stress in your life but also to manage how you react to that stress. It’s not possible to eliminate all stress, but you don’t have to deal with life by eating a box of donuts.
I recommend finding a way to compartmentalize your stressors, so they don’t invade all aspects of your life. Find ways to relax and keep your cortisol levels in the normal range.
High cortisol is associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. It’s clearly important to ensure that you’re living a low-stress life.