As a mom, stress just seems like part of the job. There are mouths to feed, clothes to wash, and bosses to please. While anxiety might just seem like part of the daily routine, it can impact our health in some unforeseen ways! Research has revealed that stress isn’t just bad for your mental health; it can be detrimental when it comes to your waistline too! Even those of us with the best intentions often fall prey to the pitfalls of stress.
You might be familiar with the stress hormone cortisol. When our body experiences any kind of stress – physical or mental – it responds by releasing a huge dose of cortisol into our bloodstream. In healthy doses, cortisol allows our body to regenerate our energy levels, but if cortisol is discharged in response to stress, it can trigger some urges that aren’t necessarily good for those weight loss resolutions. Cortisol can produce cravings for food, and those urges often persist until we get our stress levels under control.
Think about it, though: You’ve just gotten into an argument with your hubby over whose turn it is to make dinner. He has already forgotten to pick up the kids from their swim lesson, so you’re on your way out the door and you pass the pantry. You haven’t eaten since lunch, and all this unanticipated anxiety is making you hungry. You grab A) a 100-calorie pack of almonds or B) that baggie of leftover Halloween candy you haven’t gotten around to throwing away. Chances are, ladies, it’s the candy that's going to find its way into your purse.
Unfortunately, those high levels of cortisol make us crave fatty, sweet, or salty foods. These types of snacks actually stimulate the brain to make it release chemicals that cause pleasure, and eventually reduce our stress. The worst part is, those foods are ridiculously addicting, so before long our brain becomes trained to associate candy, potato chips, and other junk food with anxiety relief. Cortisol is also known to promote the storage of excess fat, in particular a type called visceral fat, which can be incredibly dangerous to your health. Visceral fat encircles vital organs, like the heart, and shoots fatty acids into your bloodstream. This can lead to a variety of serious conditions, including: (via WebMD)
- Increased cholesterol
- High insulin levels
- Heart disease
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Accelerated aging
While stress can’t be completely obliterated from our lives, there are many tried-and-true methods out there that can help you keep your anxiety to a minimum! Check out these 5 Quick Ways To De-stress and Relax or read up 15 Ways to Combat Stress in Under a Minute for some great tips! A tough day at work or at home doesn’t mean you’ve got to cave to those cravings. We’ve thought up 10 Healthy Snacks to Keep Near Your Desk for those stressful moments.