As you know, I am not a fan of labeling foods into the “good and bad” categories, but when you find yourself eating things you don’t actually want to eat, well, then it becomes a question of why.
Researchers at the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research at the University of Zurich looked into this issue, specifically the relation stress has to different health concerns, one of which was weight gain brought on by eating sweets. In the study divided 51 participants (all of whom held a shared interest in living a healthy lifestyle) into two groups. One would be controlled while the other was experimental. During the study, the experimental group had their hands put into ice water in order to increase cortisol levels and bring on “mild stress”. All of the participants were then shown different types of food and asked to rate their taste and nutritional values. Interestingly, those in the experimental group overwhelmingly chose the unhealthful foods over those in the controlled group. Going further, they found that, the greater the stress levels, the stronger the desire for rich snacks.
The bottom line: Stress has an undeniable impact on self-control and the ability to make healthy choices.
This was extremely interesting to me as a fitness professional as it is so important to me that my clients understand that exercise, relaxation and meditation are for more than simply being slim and avoiding frown lines; it really is essential to take a real interest in protecting ourselves from stress and recognizing the pitfalls of high cortisone levels (beyond belly fat, which always seems to get the most attention in the press) and to truly be mindful, not only with what you put into your body, but of how you care for and treat it.