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Effect of Food on Stress-Related Mood and Eating Behavior

by Dr. Simi Paknikar on  February 2, 2012 at 12:09 PM Health In Focus   - G J E 4
Ever found yourself munching furiously when stressed out, even if you are not hungry? Well, researchers have found that stress leads to excessive eating especially of sweets and high-fat foods and is one of the causes of obesity.
Effect of Food on Stress-Related Mood and Eating Behavior
Effect of Food on Stress-Related Mood and Eating Behavior
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Some studies however indicate that eating excess carbohydrates may actually increase the amount of stress. Stress and a high carbohydrate diet together may increase the chances of obesity.

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The feeling of being rewarded by food is perceived by the brain in two forms, 'liking' and 'wanting.' 'Liking' refers to the pleasure derived through the oro-sensory stimulation of food. 'Wanting' on the other hand, refers to the appetite, craving or motivation to obtain the food.

A study was conducted on 19 men and 19 women to test the effect of two different types of food, high protein or high carbohydrate on stress-induced changes in mood, the perception of 'liking' or 'wanting' by the brain and post-meal energy intake.

The participants of the study were examined on 4 occasions. On one occasion, they underwent a stress session (by taking a stress-causing computer exam) and were then given a high-protein diet. In another session, they received stress session with a high-carbohydrate diet. In the remaining two sessions, they received a high-protein or a high-carbohydrate diet at rest without any stress.

Pre- and post-meal 'liking' and 'wanting' were tested using a computer test. Appetite profile was measured with visual analogue scales, mood changes were measured with the help of questionnaires and post-meal energy intakes were measured.

The participants were found to be depressed or anxious during stress. The high-protein intake, when compared to high-carbohydrate intake, reduced subsequent 'wanting' and energy intake at rest only in patients with high disinhibited eating behavior (Disinhibited eating behavior is when a person eats too quickly and is repeatedly unsuccessful during dieting). However, this effect disappeared during stress. In all other cases, the two diets had similar effects on stress-related mood and eating behavior.

Thus, the effect of diet on stress-related eating behavior is the same irrespective of the type of food, according to this study.

Reference:

1. Lemmens SG et al. Lack of effect of high-protein vs. high-carbohydrate meal intake on stress-related mood and eating behavior. Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:136 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-136

Source: Medindia
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