Friday, August 19, 2011

Stress Eating

Mashed potatoes look better when you’re stressed, say scientists. But you can prevent those stress-induced pig-outs.
Ever wonder why you tend to reach for mashed potatoes, chocolate and other comfort foods when you’re stressed?

Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center think they know the answer: ghrelin.

Ghrelin is the so-called “hunger hormone,” and when you’re stressed, your ghrelin levels rise. The new study, which was performed on mice, suggests that higher than normal ghrelin levels from stress lead to overeating of comfort foods specifically.

Besides reducing your stress, you can take steps to prevent an ice cream pig-out: First, remember that skipping meals when you’re stressed just exacerbates the problem. In fact, eating infrequently can cause you to deal with stress less effectively — when you don’t eat for long periods of time, your blood sugar levels, and thus your mood and your energy, plummet.

Another useful trick is to eat mindfully: By using all your senses to truly savor each bite of your food, you force yourself to slow down and allow yourself to become fully immersed in the present moment. So even if you do reach for the chocolate, you’ll be able to limit yourself to one serving.

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