We have all heard of the cliché stress eating, there is a grain of truth (and science) to that often used statement. Stress triggers the body to unleash certain hormones, and it doesn’t help that when people stress eat, they eat high carbohydrate and sugary food.
Stress and Hormones
When a person is experiencing high stress, the body triggers its fight or flight system that releases a hormone known as cortisol into the blood. This heightens your hunger because the body begins to crave for energy food to combat the stressors you are dealing with. Some researchers found a connection between weight gain and stress. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, about a fourth of Americans indicated that their stress levels are 8 on a 10-point scale.
In the short-term, stress may slow down or even shut down your appetite. The hypothalamus manufactures corticotrophin-releasing hormones, which affects appetite. The brain sends messages to your adrenal glands atop the kidneys to produce epinephrine. This hormone triggers your body’s fight or flight system, which may temporarily stop eating.
However, if stress continues, it becomes a different story altogether. Your body’s adrenal glands produce cortisol, this hormone heightens appetite and may also increase motivation in general, including eating more.
Stress may also affect food choices; numerous studies conducted on animals have revealed that emotional and/or physical distress heightens fat and/or sugar intake. The high levels of cortisol combined with high insulin levels contribute to this effect. Once eaten, the food inhibits the brain’s activity that processes and produces stress and other related emotions.
Treating Binge Eating
You have different options when it comes to binge eating disorder treatments, these include:
- Psychotherapy – this method is a type of counseling that concentrates on changing the thinking and behavior of patients with an eating disorder.
- Medication – certain drugs enable patients to recover from their eating problems.
- Group Therapy – people who have an eating disorder benefit from discussing their feelings and concerns with others who have the same experiences.
These are just a handful of treatments that enable people who have eating disorders to recover.