Are you stressed or hungry? It’s the question health experts say we need to consider before reaching for that comfort food. “Stress eating is revolved around our stress hormone called cortisol. When cortisol is elevated, oftentimes what happens is our brain is going to seek out an energy source, and our brain knows what has a lot of energy—it’s high-fat foods, carbohydrates-based foods, whether it be starchy or sugary,” said Julie Hill, an outpatient dietitian with Lee Health.
When our cortisol is elevated it can increase our insulin resistance and elevate our blood sugar. “It can make us hungry because our cells aren’t receiving the nutrition from our food, and our blood sugar is remaining high instead of delivering that energy to the cell,” said Hill.
That feeling of hunger can lead us to consume unhealthy snacks and large portion sizes. Making it important to choose healthy foods if you are feeling stressed—Things like fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. “When we talk about comfort foods, those foods when carbohydrates actually ferment in our gut, it produces serotonin so it actually does have a calming effect,” said Hill.
But food isn’t the only thing that can calm our mind—things like meditation, exercise, and relaxation can also help us manage stress and benefit our overall health.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health – Caring People. Inspiring Care.