Why Does Stress Make Me Crave?
Stress. Even the word itself sounds, er, uh…stressful! You immediately conjure images of family quarrels, financial problems, road emergencies, sleep deprivation, a difficult boss, or life-sucking disease. But no matter the source, stress is a voracious monster that has a lust for only one victim: Energy. To mobilize…to escape… to ward off danger…to survive.
And whose job is it to supply the sacrificial lamb to this beast? The adrenals, those tiny glands atop the kidneys, best known for their production of adrenaline and cortisol. Instantly, they send out their fleet-footed messengers to recruit fuel for the energy factories in the body – those tiny mitochondria inside each cell. They sound the alarm for oxygen and food to be delivered promptly.
The bronchioles in the lungs dilate, the pulse quickens, all the better to ferry the goods to their destination. Digestion, reproduction, and other “non-essential” functions grind to a halt. All attention must be focused on responding to the demon’s demand.
The couriers dash to the liver to scrape up all the glycogen stores that can be converted to glucose – the quickest food that can be lapped up in such an emergency. They race to the muscle tissue to coax fatty acid and amino acid conversion into glucose. But inevitably, they sprint to the brain, where the commander-in-chief demands that rations be confiscated from outside the camp. You receive an unquestionable order: Eat! Eat now! Eat quick!
No long-burning logs will stoke the fire soon enough. You need kindling! Intuitively, you seek carbohydrates that can be transformed into glucose rapidly. A fiber-ful bundle of buttered asparagus doesn’t quite pass muster. But ice cream – now, that sounds fine!
Two Keys to Kill Your Cravings
Outwitting your cravings will require clever strategy. Implement these assertive tactics:
- Fight the stress itself! Instead of letting urgent bids take your attention, re-focus on the moment. Ascertain that you are actually okay – you are alive and functioning – then reprogram your breathing, your mindset, and your sensory input through deliberate, mindful exercises. (Check out our Stress Hacks class.) You can choose to respond from a place of peace.
- Fuel up before the energy crisis. Having adequate amino acids from healthy protein, and plentiful fatty acids from natural, unrefined fats will guard against energy deficits. Make sure, especially, that your first meal of the day will meet your metabolic needs. It has been suggested that no less than 20 grams of protein are needed in the morning to establish your metabolism for the day. So if you want waffles or cereal, save them for dinner. Instead, try some Fisherman’s Eggs for breakfast! Rich in Omega 3’s, this dish is protective of those energy factories, your mitochondria.
2 Tb. coconut oil or unrefined red palm oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package of frozen vegetables, optional (or any fresh ones, such as bell peppers, artichoke hearts, or asparagus)
1 can wild-caught sardines packed in olive oil
2 pastured eggs
Preheat oven to 350°. Using an oven-proof skillet, saute the onion, garlic and optional vegetables over medium heat in oil until soft. Add sardines to the pan. Gently crack the eggs over the mixture. Transfer skillet to the oven and cook until the eggs are soft-set, approximately 10 minutes.