One of the hardest things about dieting is controlling your cravings. I am a firm believer in scheduled cheat days, but cravings strike whenever they like. Whether it's a cold ice cream sundae or a hot slice of pizza, when cravings attack, they are tough to fight. Cravings can be even stronger when you are stressed out over work, finances, or your relationship.
Science now shows why stress increases your likelihood to binge, and I know how science can help you prevent binging! Learn how to control your cravings in today's mental training session.
Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center placed mice in stressful situations. They put mice in a cage with more dominant males that "bullied" the smaller mice. When the mice were exposed to this stressful situation, they had higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that increases hunger. This caused the mice to preferentially eat more fatty food.
What does this mean for you? After all, you're not a mouse being bullied. However, you're probably in a variety of daily stressful situations, and that stress can increase your ghrelin levels, just like it did to the poor mice. When you're stressed, the increase in grehlin can cause you to crave fattier, unhealthy foods.
Beat the Binge
If stress strikes and you want to reach for a donut, make a whey protein shake or eggs instead. Research suggests that both whey and eggs can lower ghrelin levels, and decrease hunger and food intake. Keep these go-to snacks readily available to curb cravings and beat a binge before it starts.
- Chuang, J. C., et al. Ghrelin mediates stress-induced food-reward behavior in mice. J Clin Invest. 2011 Jul 1;121(7):2684-92.