Stress has become a condition in which we accept a short-term level of heightened performance at the expense of long-term health. Whether physical or emotional, stress has many negative effects on the body. One of them is the accumulation of a hormone called cortisol. When faced with a stressful situation, the body produces an adrenaline rush that releases fat and glucose as an energy source to help deal with the stressor. Once the crisis subsides, cortisol becomes active and stimulates the appetite so that we can replenish our fat stores. Since most of us don't reach for an apple or a chicken breast when we feel hungry, the release of cortisol usually leads to grabbing a quick carbohydrate snack such as a slice of pizza, a donut, a candy bar, or some type of high-carbohydrate fast food. Unfortunately, living with a high level of daily stress causes the body to produce a consistently high level of cortisol, leading to a vicious cycle of stress, frequent overeating, and fat gain.
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