Kids are back in school and life is hectic. The days are getting shorter as is the time left before the holidays arrive. Registered dietician LeeAnn Weintraub reminds us that both short-term and long-term stress lead to very different adverse effects on appetite and eating habits:
Short-term stress causes the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine, reducing appetite as a part of the body’s fight-or-flight response.
However, if stress or the perception of stress continues the body releases another hormone called cortisol, which increases appetite. Cortisol is at least partly responsible for the stress-induced cravings that result in overeating high-sugar and high-fat foods.
Once cortisol levels fall, appetite returns to normal. Though, if stress levels remain high, cortisol and its physiological repercussions can persist.
Weintraub offers 9 ways to relieve stress and the appetite that accompanies it. Remember that your kids might be feeling a little stressed out at times, so this pertains to them also:
Eat right: Include a variety of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables daily that help fight inflammation.
Curb your vices: Consider how the use of caffeine, nicotine or sugar may be working against your goals for a healthier lifestyle.
Try incorporating daily meditation: Try out one of the many smartphone apps like Headspace and Calm that help with teaching, scheduling and advancing meditation practices.
Unplug: Give yourself time before bed to disconnect from technology such as cell phones, computers and television to help set the stage for restful sleep.
Start a food journal: Consider logging your eating habits to help uncover patterns between how you feel and what you eat.
Use exercise to help manage stress: Activities like yoga, tai chi and swimming that involve intentional breathing can play a beneficial role in stress reduction.
Laugh it off: Socializing with family and friends can help with coping and may boost self-esteem.
Stay open-minded: Try alternative stress reduction methods like massage, acupressure, art therapy, aromatherapy and hypnosis.
Ask for help: If your stress is unmanageable and you could benefit from support, don’t be afraid to ask for help.