Food Cravings & Stress

Stress in America reveals that 36 percent of participants report overeating or eating unhealthy foods, and 27 percent report skipping meals over the last month in response to stress. Despite the common belief that stress directly leads to weight gain, epidemiologic research shows inconsistent results. Bringing together 14 prospective studies that followed more than 23,000 men and women for up to 38 years, a metaanalysis found only a very small association between stressors, such as a traumatic event or work stress, and weight gain. Published in the June 2011 issue of Obesity, this study also showed effects of stress were stronger in men than in women.

Several studies suggest that while stress may not always lead to consuming more calories, some people eat less and lose weight when stressed, it’s likely to lead to less healthy food choices. Although more research is needed can be donee to draw conclusions about how stress relates to body weight, food intake and food preference, consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, low-fat dairy foods, fish, eggs, lean meats and poultry provides vital nutrients needed for mind and body. Eating every few hours can help keep blood sugar levels steady and prevent excessive hunger.

Think Small: Making small changes in how you cope with stress on a slow, gradual basis can help you make bigger long-term changes. Such as taking a short walk rather than drowning your sorrows in a bowl of ice cream, or keeping healthful snacks on hand as an alternative to skipping meals.