Work and life stress tend to amplify quickly, and we often take comfort in the solace of food. If you're feeling down, indulging thoughtfully in a food that reminds you of the ones you love really can make you feel better. But by the same token, by arming yourself with nutritional information before you indulge (become a label-reader!), you're less likely to overdo it and feel bad after. Of course, it never hurts to keep healthy snack alternatives handy and consume foods that actually make you feel less stressed.
A study co-authored by Cornell University nutritional science and consumer behavior expert Brian Wansink found that sad respondents were significantly more likely to reach for less-healthy comfort food options than happier respondents. Wansink believes that the sad respondents, who ate more, were trying to cheer themselves up with more indulgent snacks, whereas the happy subjects enjoyed snacks in moderation, and were more inclined to choose healthy options. There is good news, however, in a related study also authored by Wansink: When presented with nutritional information, sad subjects were much more likely to curb their intake than happy subjects.
At meQuilibrium, we know that stress, emotions, and eating are all tied up in a complex set of relationships. How we feel influences what we consume, and vice versa. The interesting thing about these studies is that they suggest that mindfulness can play an important role in more healthful eating.
Stressing Is Scary!
Stress is the underlying issue for many of the poor lifestyle decisions people are making everyday. And it is also stress that gets in the way of the good lifestyle decisions we know we should be making. Stress creates a serious catch-22: the more stressed you are, the less able you are to make lifestyle changes, the exact changes your doctor recommends to you to reduce stress.
Family practitioners report that 66 percent of all doctor visits are for stress-related symptoms such as headache, neck pain, irritable bowel syndrome, loss of libido, fatigue, sleeplessness, and even infertility.
Anxiety is implicated in several chronic conditions. The Harvard Women’s Health Watch says the evidence is there to link anxiety disorders with a greater risk of developing heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions.