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What Your Natural Biology Is Saying About Weight Loss

What Your Natural Biology Is Saying About Weight Loss

(Source: Creative Commons via user "t-bet")

Nicole Ohebshalom | Radiant Living Wellness

July 21, 2009

Imagine a relationship with food and your body that leaves you nourished and fulfilled each day. Imagine having the confidence to relax and enjoy the food you choose to eat. If you’ve tried all the diets to strengthen your metabolism but have not achieved success, there’s one basic reason why: You’re moving too fast.

Biologically, Stress Causes Cravings

In a state of stress, the body automatically shifts into the classic flight-or-fight response, also known as the sympathetic nervous system reaction. As a result, your digestive system shuts down to different degrees because your blood moves away from your midsection where digestion occurs. Instead, your blood flows to your legs, arms, and mind, so it can quickly react to a stressful situation.

Your stress hormones also activate, which can lead you to crave more calories. Cortisol, the main stress hormone involved here, plays a key role in this stress response. Cortisol stimulates a flood of hormonal signaling from the hypothalamus to adrenal glands to engage you in pleasure-seeking behavior. This causes you to consume high-energy/fat foods, such as foods filled with sucrose and lard.

So, it’s actually a hormone that sends a signal to your brain to seek these high-fat foods—it has nothing to do with self-control! We are so hard on ourselves when we have a craving, but really it’s your body asking you to relax— take a bath, ask for a hug, go dance! Your body is seeking the food to create a relaxing feeling for you, but what happens to many of us is we play the blame game.

The amount of pressure society and media put on body image and diet may explain why losing weight is notoriously difficult. Losing weight can be stressful, which can make you feel anxious. In this stress response, cortisol comes into full gear and creates high-energy food cravings. Eating high-energy food blunts the feeling of stress and makes you feel better, but this is short-lived. Stress will come around again, especially if you haven’t learned healthy de-stressing techniques, and the viscious cycle begins again.

Relax! Your Metabolism Depends on It

Relaxation begins with building self-awareness and positive thought processes into your life. Once this is established, you can find other ways to relax and organize your pleasure before the stress and cravings are full force. When you are in a relaxed mode, your parasympathetic nervous system is activated. All the blood flows to your midsection to churn and assimilate the food and absorb all your nutrients. Your metabolism and digestion work in full speed.

Our body’s natural state is relaxation, and we are genetically programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. When we eat, we are seeking the pleasure of food and avoiding the pain of hunger. Therefore, adding pleasure to your food will metabolically optimize your meal. The chemical CCK (cholecystokinin) is produced in the body and has a number of functions in your parasympathetic nervous system. It aids in digestion, suppresses appetite, and stimulates a pleasure sensation in the cerebral cortex.

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