Why You Crave Comfort Foods When You’re Stressed

by ProfKeith

I’ve written many times about the dangers of obesity, inflammation, and how stress will absolutely kill you if you allow it to take over your life.

These three things are intrinsically linked in modern humanity and are causing a ripple effect in our physical, emotional, and mental health. Obesity and inflammation are listed as risk factors for every major disease and condition.

Their common denominator is stress.

When you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or upset, your impulse is to reach for comfort foods that make you feel better (even for a short time). Data published in the Psychological Science journal found that participants for the University of Miami study developed a “live for today” attitude.

That included consuming 40% more high-calorie, pro-inflammatory foods that provided momentary “relief” when primed with stress words that included politics, war, and gun violence.

“Now that we know this sort of messaging causes people to seek out more calories out of a survival instinct, it would be wise for those looking to kick off a healthier new year to tune out news for a while,” said UM School of Business doctoral student, Anthony Salerno.

Even more fascinating, when the researchers told stress-primed participants that specific foods contained fewer calories – they ate 25% less of those foods. In another study from the same team, participants ate more of a candy they were told had more calories. The perception is that more calories equaled more value, more comfort to the stress they were feeling.

comfort-foods-IG

The Undeniable Ripple Effect of Stress

It all goes back to stress. Physical stress has immediate and obvious repercussions on your health but mental and emotional stress can be harder to identify. It can impact you subconsciously for years before the long-term effects begin to make themselves known.

Scientific evidence has already linked chronic stress to the top ten killers in the world. It is listed as a direct cause or a condition that worsens an existing health problem. Unrelenting attacks on your cardiovascular system, respiratory system, immune system, gastrointestinal system, and emotional state make stress incredibly dangerous.

Seeking solace in unhealthy comfort foods, cigarettes, alcohol, or recreational drugs to cope with how bad you feel exacerbates the problem to extreme and deadly levels.

Stress is a root cause for disease, pain, and death that is so easy to overlook…and that is what most people do for decades. No one seems to take stress seriously and that’s why this state of being – along with the chronic inflammation it causes – kills so many. You cannot underestimate this insidious murderer. It can and will lead to your ruin.

Chronic stress affects everything in your life by…

  • Inducing rampant inflammation.
  • Exhausting your heart.
  • Gradually burning out your immune system.
  • Damaging your brain.
  • Sapping your physical and mental energy.
  • Imbalances your hormones.
  • Rewriting your body chemistry at the cellular level.
  • Slowing your metabolism.
  • Destroying your body’s ability to process insulin.
  • Making it harder for your body to release toxins.
  • Drastically reducing your sex drive.
  • Changing your quality and amount of sleep.
  • Decreasing bone and muscle mass.
  • Interfering with gut function.
  • Affecting your mental and emotional state.
  • Reducing your ability to think clearly.
  • Aging your body faster, inside and out.
  • Driving you toward disability and death.

The worst part? Chronic stress isn’t just impacting adults.

Stress that includes upheaval within the family, financial difficulties, and poor health of a maternal figure during childhood is considered a root cause of obesity in boys and girls under the age of 18, according to research by the Texas Obesity Research Center.

Over time, stress leads to vitamin deficiencies as your body frantically tries to keep you in balance. You might make choices in your life to try to improve how you feel but if you never address the root cause of why you feel the way you do, no amount of comfort foods or vacations or new jobs is going to help.

Stress is a vicious cycle. It wears you down, wears you out, and leaves you with few resources to fight illness, stay alert, and live the quality of life you deserve.

You cannot ignore the stress in your life. You must identify it, resolve it, and put it behind you…right now. Don’t let it take one more day of your health or happiness because a “happy” meal is nothing more than an illusion.

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