How stress affects our eating habits

Eating a balanced diet isn’t always easy, especially when you have “a lot on your plate.” Annika Makowka knows this too and makes it the subject of her column.

A big project at work or in private life, a lot to do, an important exam that is coming up, grieving for a loved one or stressful conflicts: there are many reasons for stress. And I don’t know about you, but for me, those stressful phases mean that sometimes I let my diet slip a little bit.

Then I quickly hear myself saying, “First of all, a pizza!” or “I really don’t feel like cooking today, let’s get a doner kebab.” The main thing is that it is fast, tastes good and requires as little effort as possible.

Climbing in the candy department

Also, I love sweets. It’s almost like my brain flips a switch when I’m stressed and it keeps whispering to me, “Hey, chocolate makes you happy. Buy the chocolate. And so do they, yeah!”

So I sit on the sofa at night and find myself staring at the empty packet of chocolate, the contents of which seem to have been destroyed in no time. And do I feel better now? Of course not. The stress, oh miracle, hasn’t subsided one bit and now I have a stomach ache too.

Why do you eat more when you are stressed?

But why does stress affect our diet in the first place? As with so many things in life, messenger substances in the brain are to blame. According to studies, increased cortisol levels during stress lead to an overall increased appetite.

And the reward system also influences eating behavior. For example, we often learned in childhood that you get something sweet if you do something right, and this principle is already being applied in adult life.

… and why do some eat less?

However, for some people, stress has exactly the opposite effect: they eat less or simply can’t eat. Science talks about the so-called “stress starvation”. Often they simply forget to eat because they are too busy doing other stressful things.

Also, in case of stress, the body’s “fight or flight” principle comes into effect. Heart rate and blood pressure increase, but digestive processes tend to slow down because they require too much energy. This can cause loss of appetite or nausea.

What to do when stress affects your diet

So what can you do if you notice that you’re eating significantly more or significantly less than normal due to stress?

Nutrition experts stress: The most important thing is to be aware of what triggers cause stress and what you can do about it. No matter how much you have on your plate, you should always try to give yourself enough time to eat.

It can also be useful, for example, to cook your favorite dish and intensely enjoy each bite; this reduces bouts of ravenous appetite and can also overcome loss of appetite.

And of course, in general, take a deep breath, every stressful phase ends at some point!

Leave your vote

Leave a Comment

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.