Food: how the stress of exams drives students to eat junk food

In times of revisions, the most stressed students tend to change their eating habits by turning to prepared meals and fastfoods, according to a new study presented this week at the European Congress of Obesity in Scotland.

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. The results of their study, published a few months ago in the European Journal of Nutrition, were presented at the European Congress of Obesity held in Glasgow, Scotland from April 28th to May 1st.

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, the emotional eaters (who eat to comfort themselves after feeling a negative emotion), the external eaters (who respond to the sight or smell of food), the followers of the sweet and the fat, the sedentary, the people Reward-sensitive and anxious are most likely to fall into the trap, the researchers also noted during their study.

"Healthy eating is necessary for optimal intellectual performance", reminds 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 even worse to jump on junk food in times of extreme nervousness that a study conducted on mice proved in April that the body unfortunately has a tendency to store more fat when we are stressed. "Our study shows that when they were stressed for a long time and that high calorie food was available, the mice became obese faster compared to those who ate the same food without being stressed," explained the researchers. . This perverse phenomenon is linked to the NPY molecule naturally produced by the brain during a stressful period. Moreover, "our results reveal a real vicious circle, where high levels of insulin due to stress and a high calorie 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," he explains on the Well-Being website. 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.

Video: Letting The Person In Front Of Me Decide What I Eat! Fast Food (February 2020).