"Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well;...
and not today's pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man."
~James H. West

Lisa's Blog

Do you get more hungry when you are stressed?

Lisa Cutforth - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hunger hormone may increase in times of stress.

This could explain why often people want to eat more in response to stress.

 It is known that fasting causes ghrelin, a hunger hormone, to be produced in the gastrointestinal tract, which sends a signal to the brain that essentially increases our appetite.  Interesting research has found that exposure to stress can also cause ghrelin levels to rise.  This may be because the body anticipates that it will have increased need for resources or kick in primal survival and danger cues as a form of preparation for disaster.  However, paradoxically, it appears that the behaviours associated with depression and anxiety will tend to decrease as ghrelin levels rise.  Researchers have explained this might have been an evolutionary adaptation: the anti-anxiety effect of hunger-induced ghrelin may have provided a survival advantage.  Our hunter - gatherer ancestors who need to make food accumulation a priority, where able to keep calm and focused while in search of food, or they could have been at risk of becoming dinner themselves should they not have their wits about them. 

So while the ghrelin increase could have an antidepressant effect and possibly even increase energy levels, it could contribute to weight problems.  Similarly researchers are optimistic at blocking the body's response to ghrelin signals in an attempt to control weight by decreasing intake, however this could actually increase anxiety and depression.  It seems that could be a vicious cycle for someone who is prone to comfort eating.  They would feel more anxious and look for food even more to soothe.

Getting hungrier in response to stress and eating more when added to another physiological response to stress, make stress a key player and culprit in weight problems.

Another interesting factor that appears to make stress a contributor to poor weight control is the body's physiological response.  Stressed individuals tend to have increased abdominal fat receptors around their gut, and so will have a tendency to be able to store more or put on more weight during times of times, particularly chronic or ongoing stress.  

So what else could you do with your mouth and stomach in a response to stress that makes you feel better, increases endorphins and has a positive effect on your waistline?


There is a lot of research highlighting the stress management benefits of laughter:

  1. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenalin, dopamine and growth hormone. 
  2. Laughter provides a physical and emotional release, often you can feel really cleansed and invigorated from a good laugh.
  3. Laughter gives you a good internal workout.  It exercises your facial muscles, your diaphragm, your heart, contracts your abs and shoulders and leaves muscles feeling more relaxed afterwards.
  4. Laughter is a great distraction, if helps bring your focus away from negative emotions like anger or guilt. 
  5. Laughter is a great connector and so has social benefits.
  6. Laughter helps you shift perspective.  Humour can give you a more lighthearted perspective so that something is viewed as a challenge rather than a threat.
  7. Laughter can help you to alter your state.  Even a fake or forced laugh or smile can have a positive effect on your physiology, so lift up the corners of your mouth, throw back your head and LAUGH OUT LOUD!



Recent Posts


low calorie meal plan 7 steps to detox how to say no healthy cooking party soccer, role of team sports in longevity, role of exercise and community in longevity how to get more of exercise heart foundation tick explained fun breast cancer awareness video hot guys high cholesterol homocysteine corporate wellness anxiety motivation delicious herbal toothpaste diet diary of a nutritionist keep focused diet diary nutritionist food allergies ask my doctor sustainable living, rural development, organic gardening, rampumps, biogas the tummy beast fresh breast cancer prevention maintain a healthy weight, underweight which is better for you butter or margarine alzheimers music indigestion love food skipping meals hunger and stress 10 % principle Lisa's Diary comfort foods focus the power to choose are frozen veggies any good detox life lessons relationship with food increasing energy immune boosting tips calorie controlled diet feels good Alan Pease nutritious real food muffins allergies control success and you dancing health one step at a time Dr Randy Pausch on Oprah quizz cholesterol lowering diet food sensitivities soft drink and behavior problems time management and healthy living Nina Simone reducing coffee recipes for allergies fussy eaters assertiveness comfort eating four questions you must ask your doctor before taking medication wrong type of exercise, exercise and results organic vegetables sexy salad benefits of strength training, why you should strength train soft drink and behaviour problems sugar and add should I eat organic veggies fun great second hand books go for 2 and 5 avoiding a choice Laughter and stress health for busy people Lactose intolerance taking a break sugar and adhd 7 Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol and Protect Your Heart healthy wine, healthy beer, healthy alcohol options Happiness ability to respond dance to know and not do is not yet to know are grains healthy getting fit Cancer weight loss foods in season, seasonal recipes simple 7 day detox plan lunch empty your mind performance healthy cooking demonstration weight sexy salads Sensational skip meals quick eating solutions best exercise have more energy libido how to be happy fatigue nutritionist in brisbane Add new tag how to check your breasts how to avoid injury during exercise health mobile phones and brain cancer, Dr Teo dangers of multitasking while you eat christmas obesity image healthy shopping list healthy cooking parties what is movember health pioneers fresh start addicted to chocolate Nutritional Therapist healthy fast food, healthy take away Egg allergy ways to improve prostate health improve your memory natural toothpaste cooking with allergies new year's resolutions breast cancer awareness reasons to eat foods in season heart disease relax childrens lunch boxes memory benefits to keeping a diet diary have fun in the kitchen recipies do i have to drink milk; where do i get calcium from; non dairy calcium sources quick recipes blood pressure muscle wasting gluten intolerance weightloss food intolerances salad breakfast make stress work for you brain health celebrate life nutritionists diet diary is chocolate bad for me leaky gut, gut health, symptoms of leaky gut fruit cheap fruit and vegetables, what's in season in autumn in australia prostate cancer natural alternatives to drugs happiness workshop pop-eye and spinach comfort pig taking responsibility drugfree alternatives gift how to love exercise cooking class in brisbane low cholesterol nutrition healthy shopping energy love, loneliness low calorie diet overindulge trans fats is sugar bad stress, keys to managing stress, benefits of stress mood how to avoid doing the right thing and getting the wrong results what is healthy food immune system life choices strength life sensitivity to milk nutritious cooking I've Got Life I don't get hungry support your body health with 10 % effort happiness course fruit and vegetable shortage recipe benefits of sleeping seasonal quick and tasty recipes making time to relax what is a good breakfast