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Gardening Plays a Role in Your Stress Eating Habits

Gardening Plays a Role in Your Stress Eating Habits

When you’re under stress, it can drive you toward a lot of different behaviors. One of the behaviors that it can create is the desire to eat in ways that aren’t as healthy as they should be.


And stress eating can become a habit. When you feel stressed, you want to eat and then when you eat, you feel guilty and more stressed when you eat things that aren’t good for your body.


How Stress Triggers Eating


You may be familiar with how emotional stress can make you feel. It can cause anxiety, mood swings, insomnia and long term, it can lead to depression. When you’re stressed, there are chemical changes that take place inside your body.


Stress causes your body to release hormones that make you crave the comfort of your favorite foods. These foods are often loaded with little in the way of nutrition but are packed with calories.


When people are under stress, it tends to make them eat more in the way of serving sizes than they would normally eat. When your life isn’t under stress, your body works better to help through the use of hormones to control your appetite.


These hormones work together to make sure your desire to eat is at a healthy level. You won’t have the craving to overeat. You’ll experience times when you don’t even feel hungry.


But that all changes when stress enters the picture and it’s not your fault. There’s a scientific reason that stress triggers your desire to eat. When you’re under stress, whether it’s short term or chronic, the body works to produce cortisol.


Just like other hormones work to keep your appetite at a healthy level, cortisol does the opposite. It prods the brain in reaction to stress to give you a signal that you need to eat in order to get some energy.


This is an automatic reaction within the body. As a result of the cortisol, it makes you hungry. It can make you crave food as the cortisol levels rise. You’ll end up overeating because of this elevated hormone.


When you’re not under stress, you won’t have as much of the hormone present in your body. But if the stress is chronic, the cortisol levels remain at the point where you feel the need to eat more than you should and more often than you should.


What most people do when the stress hits is they reach for the foods that are packed with sugar and high in calories. This is partly due to convenience sake. These foods are usually already stocked in the pantry and we’re more apt to eat whatever is on hand when we have a desire to feed the stress.


The problem is that once you eat foods that are high in fat and sugar, you experience a boomerang result. The more foods that are packed with sugar and fat that you feed your body, the more that it wants.


You can become addicted to these foods as a way of relieving stress. Even though that relief is short lived, because you feel better after eating it, the temptation to do the same thing again will be stronger.


Foods that are high in sugar can create a feel-good sensation in the brain. It’s because of this fact that it will be easier to eat the same unhealthy foods whenever stress increases.


The problem though with using food to try and get relief from the stress is that it always backfires. You might feel better every time you give in to stress eating, but the consequences are always there.


When you stress eat with foods that aren’t healthy, you create a reward pathway that wires your brain to make eating the foods the first resort instead of trying to work toward a better solution.


The only way that you’ll find relief from this behavior is to replace the foods that aren’t as healthy with ones that are. Stress eaters will always go for the foods that are convenient. If you have healthier options on hand, then you can break the habit of stress eating foods that aren’t good for you.


What Stress Eating Does to Your Body


If you look up funny sayings about stress, you’ll find a lot of material. You’ll find shirts, pillows, and décor that joke about stress. While those might be intended as humorous, it’s not funny at all what stress eating can do to your body.


When you eat due to stress, you usually end up eating far more calories than your body is able to use for what it needs to run efficiently. As a result of this, weight gain usually happens.

If the overeating continues for too long, you can end up gaining enough weight to push your BMI into an unhealthy level. Obesity is a well-known side effect of overeating due to stress.


When you carry this extra weight, your muscles have to work harder and you’ll start to notice that your joints feel this extra weight. You can cause damage to your joints from overeating.


Stress eating can take a toll on you emotionally. Even though it might calm the stress temporarily, you’ll feel guilty about it and can experience negative self-talk. Many people start to have struggles with their self-esteem due to stress eating.


When you stress eat, you learn to use the food at an emotional crutch and the desire to eat until you feel better even if you’re full is often present. Stress eating can lead to problems with your vitamin and mineral levels.


Because there’s a tendency to fill up on foods that are convenient but have little nutritional value rather than healthy ones, your body can become deficit in the important vitamins and minerals it needs to function well.


Consuming a diet that’s high in fat and sugar can cause you to develop health problems. You can struggle with high blood pressure and run a greater risk for having a heart attack or stroke.


You can increase the risk of becoming insulin resistant which in turn damage your internal organs, causing things like a fatty liver. You also raise your risk of becoming a diabetic when you stress eat.


Your cholesterol level will also go up which can lead to potential heart disease. While there’s no doubt that it’s your body’s own hormone release that pushes you to want to eat when you’re stressed, you can’t change that.


But what you can change in response to stress is what you eat. You don’t have to eat the foods that will lead to weight gain and health problems. Instead, you can use stress eating to actually eat healthier if you have a way to replace the foods that aren’t good for you.


Gardening Gives You Better Stress Eating Habits


The way to find a solution to unhealthy stress eating is to give yourself a better option with your food selection. Most people actually do want to eat healthy. But when it’s the end of the day and you know the streets are packed with traffic and the stores are a madhouse, you’ll be more resistant to want to leave your home or work to go in search of healthy eating options.


Instead, what you can do is make it easy to have good stress eating habits. That might sound strange at first, that you can indulge stress eating. It’s not the eating that’s the problem, it’s what you eat and if you change what you eat, then stress eating isn’t bad for you.


Even if you use it as a way to feel better. What you can do is to get involved with gardening. If you’re thinking that gardening would raise your stress level, you’d be wrong.


Gardening is known as a relaxing hobby that offers a ton of benefits in return for the effort you do put into it. It’s not like it used to be in the old days when gardening was a back breaking, all day, week in, week out affair.


Now, there are tons of different choices you can make with gardening. You don’t have to let it be something that soaks up all of your time and energy. Gardening is something that can be done easily and you’ll discover that it’s something you enjoy.


You can find books that will teach you about gardening from the set up all the way to the time to harvest whatever it is that you’ve planted. These step-by-step instructions can walk a beginner through it.


You can use methods like slow gardening if you want to. You can choose to plot out an area of your backyard for gardening and there are books that will teach you about the soil as well as the type of irrigation that you’ll need to have in order to grow things well.


But not everyone wants to use the backyard method for gardening. If that’s the case, you have options like tier planters that you can use. These planters can be placed right on a deck or on a patio and you can garden with ease.


The reason that you want to get into gardening to help you with stress eating is because you can replace the unhealthy food choices you’ve been making. Studies have shown that people will eat healthier if the food is readily available.


When it’s something that you grow yourself, you have direct access to the healthier, home-grown foods at any time. That means that you eat better than you normally would when stress eating.


Natural foods are packed with vitamins and minerals and the nutrients that you need for good health. They’re much lower in both calories and fat content. So you’ll be able to consume more and not gain weight like you would on a high sugar, high fat stress eating habit.


If you find that you crave sugar with stress eating, you can plant fruits that will appease your sweet tooth. Strawberries, blueberries, and melons are rich in antioxidants and vitamins and will satisfy your desire for something sweet.


You’ll be able to eat without guilt and without gaining weight and causing yourself health problems. Studies have shown that one thing that people crave when they do stress eat is foods that have a crunch to them.


That’s why people will eat far too many chips or crackers when they’re stressed. It’s not so much the food as the crunch that’s associated with eating it. You can plant foods that give you the same crunch.


Foods like carrots can help you feel full while giving you the crunch you’re looking for. Best of all with gardening for stress eating, is that you’ll have healthier foods on hand for any chaotic moment in life.


You won’t have to run out to the store when you feel the need to stress eat. You can turn to your own garden. Not only will you discover that you’re eating healthier, but you’ll experience the emotional and mental satisfaction that comes along with eating something that you’ve grown.


And another good side to gardening is that you’ll be saving money on your vegetables and fruits over what you were paying at the grocery store for the unhealthy food choices.


Gardening to Help a Stress Eating Habit Can Help Your Weight


Gardening can boost the feel-good hormones in your brain, which help fight against feelings associated with stress. Studies have shown that people who have a garden eat better and have fewer long term negative health effects.


Plus, another upside to gardening for stress eating is that you’ll discover that instead of putting weight on, you’re actually losing it instead. Most people are surprised to find that they lose inches around their waist and drop numbers on the scale through gardening.


It doesn’t seem like exercise because it’s a fun, fairly easy hobby to get into. The best part is that gardening isn’t something that requires you drag yourself to an exercise club, wear workout gear or pay for a membership.


It’s all convenient and very low cost. You just have to buy the seeds or the starter plants. You can get started with gardening through container gardening, window box gardening, indoor or outdoor gardening.


There are so many different types of foods you can plant, too. When you’re involved in growing a gardening, you get exercise in a variety of ways. It’s good for any body type and any weight because the exercising is all low key and low impact so you won’t feel it in your joints.


Picking up the plants to move them from a pot to the soil works the upper body. As you work on transplanting, you’re working out core muscles as well. Lifting bags of soil to add to the garden plot is part of a garden workout.


So is raking the soil and digging in it to plant items. There’s also weeding, which is a repetitive exercise that relaxes both the mind and the body. You can burn calories in your garden by mulching and other tasks required to keep a garden productive.


Some foods require more effort to grow than other foods and that also contributes to weight loss. If you’re doing more physical aspects of gardening such as hoeing, this is considered a moderate workout and you can end up burning as much as 300 calories for every hour that you’re hoeing.


You’ll end up giving your muscles strength from all the activity as well as toning them. Gardening calms the mind, too – which, in turn reduces stress and lowers cortisol. When the cortisol is lowered, you’ll also have less of a drive to turn to food for comfort.

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