When stressed, many people use food as a “tranquilizer”. Although you may temporarily feel better when you do, the long-term results of using food as a coping mechanism can be disastrous. Stress management tools such as mental training exercises, taking a walk, and massage all help provide immediate relief from cravings by naturally modifying your biochemistry.
Stress is created when a perceived situation is considered to be threatening. This brings about a cascade of physiological reactions. Adrenaline and cortisol pump through our blood vessels, moving energy away from non-essential processes such as digestion, and directing it to the muscles. Our heart rate increases, our blood sugar and fat levels rise, our senses sharpen, and we are ready for action.
The only concern is that often the stressor does not require such a “flight or fight” response; and in current lifestyles it is often chronic and unrelenting, e.g. continual deadlines, limited finances, relationship challenges, etc. These hormones, if not used up, keep us in the cycle of stress, leading to cravings, the deposition of fat and being consistently reactive.
In the moment of feeling overwhelmed, one of the best things that you can do is use up that adrenaline and cortisol; clear those fats and sugars from your bloodstream. If time is limited, perform a short burst of exercise such as some push-ups or squats, or maybe run up a flight of stairs. This will prevent you from experiencing the sugar and resultant insulin surges that lead to insatiable cravings and a drive for foods high in fat and sugar.