What if I told you that despite all of your sophistication, you’re a neanderthal? When it comes to stress, either from external forces or your internal thoughts, your body still reacts like
you're a cave person. That's right, the body reacts the exact same way whether you're reading an annoying work email or a neanderthal being chased by a raptor.
When stressed, the body begins to shut down systems that aren't necessary for survival, like digestion, so the majority of your energy can be focused on primal survival activity and concentrated brain activity (running from and hopefully outsmarting the raptor). That means key nutrients are simply not absorbed by the body and/or digestion shuts down completely, even for hours after the stressor has gone.
When the parasympathetic nervous system is active, the stress response is turned off and the body is relaxed. This is sometimes called the “rest and digest system”, the parasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows your heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. In short, this is the ideal state for the body to fully digest and assimilate food.
When the body is stressed (any kind of stress, lion or otherwise), nutrient absorption decreases and cortisol production increases. Cortisol is associated with weight gain, abdominal obesity, and inability to lose weight or build muscle. Excessive output (being stressed out) causes the body to age prematurely. When we are stressed we tend to breathe quicker, shorter breathes which causes the body to be deprived of oxygen. The body needs oxygen to absorb food.
Stress is everywhere! So what do you do? For starters, try carving out just 10 minutes for meals with as little stress as possible. That means, no eating in front of the TV or the computer or listening to the news or being on Facebook or driving or standing or having any sort of conversation that stresses you. 10 minutes of peace for you to fully enjoy your food and for the body to be relaxed.
So before you eat, stop...relax and breathe for a moment. This 10 minutes will keep you younger, thinner, stronger and happier.
Eating Psychology Coach Institute of Eating Psychology in Boulder, CO..
Individual coaching exploring your intimate relationship... food.
The Fire Eye Blog gives you extra insight into your fitness, meals planning, fitness equipment and motivation.