How the stress of exams drives students to eat junk food.
Millions of students around the world are preparing to take their final exams. And that says period of revision says period of intense stress. Stress often manifested by uncontrollable cravings for fatty or sugary foods. We suspected it but researchers have just proved it.
How the stress of exams drives students to eat junk food
For their work, Dr. Nathalie Michels and her colleagues at the University of Ghent (Belgium) interviewed 232 Belgian students between the ages of 19 and 22 on the stress felt during exams that took place in January 2017 as well as their possible dietary changes at that time. Conclusion: 76% of them did not follow WHO’s advice to eat 400 grams of fruits and vegetables a day and chose frozen convenience foods or fastfoods instead.
Unsurprisingly, emotional eaters (who eat to comfort themselves after feeling a negative emotion), external eaters (who respond to the sight or smell of food), sugar and fat addicts, sedentary people, people Reward-sensitive and anxious are most likely to fall into the trap, the researchers also noted during their study.
“A healthy diet is necessary for optimal intellectual performance , ” recalls Nathalie Michels. And to conclude: “Prevention strategies should integrate psychological aspects and lifestyles: stress management, a nutritional education with techniques to achieve when you eat without hunger or a stimulating environment for health”.
When you’re stressed, the body stores more fat
And it would be all the worse to jump on junk food in times of extreme nervousness that a study of mice proved in April that the body has a tendency to store more fat when we are stressed. “Our study shows that when they were stressed over a prolonged period and that very caloric food was available, the mice became obese faster compared to those who had eaten the same food without being stressed, “the researchers explained.This perverse phenomenon is linked to the NPY molecule naturally produced by the brain during a stressful period. Elsewhere, “our results reveal a real vicious circle, where high insulin levels due to stress and a high caloric diet encourage more and more food,” the study also noted.
Also, for compulsive eaters, scientists recommend practicing mindfulness meditation. According to a study published a few months ago , “practicing mindfulness can help people to improve their relationship with food.”
Inspired by Buddhism, this technique used in the 70s to manage the chronic pain of patients is now more and more popular in the field of personal development. “Conscious eating can make us aware of our own actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations, in order to understand the roots of health and contentment”, is it explained on the website Wellness at the table. Eating in full awareness means being “fully present” during a meal, “focused on the magic of food, observing colors, smells, tastes and textures”, listening to his bodily sensations and “attentive “to the thoughts that cross his mind, is it specified. So, to better appreciate your food, avoid watching TV or responding to an email. Last but not least, be grateful to those who prepared the meal you are enjoying.