‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stress: Not So Tasty

Here's a topic that, rather than being wholly about nutrition, is more a big picture problem: Stress. It seems rather fitting we discuss this for two reasons: First reason, because there's some cool new research, and second is because stress is something almost everyone struggles with at some point. We've all heard or read about stress being bad for our health, which is pretty true. But let's get stuck into it before you start feeling like a cow in a steakhouse.

Stress can manifest itself in many ways, from stomach upset to diarrhea to headaches to sleep problems to irritability... and sadly, the list continues. 

New research shows that stress hormones can impact out taste perception. In case you're feeling a bit like a snowman in a sauna, let me elaborate... Researchers identified a class of stress hormones, called glucocorticoids that have receptors (GC receptors) in oral taste cells. More specifically, these GC receptors are found in cells that perceive sweet, umami and bitter tastes. 

These glucocorticoid hormones may effect how such cells respond to sugars and other taste stimuli under conditions when someone is stressed. Stressed mice, compared to non-stressed mice, had a 77% increase of GC receptors in taste cells. You may be feeling a little like a turkey on Thanksgiving, but wait... There's more. Stress won't just do you in the oral cavity...

These taste cells are interspersed throughout the body, for example in the GI tract and pancreas. More research is needed to determine if glucocorticoids have widespread effects like changes in metabolism or altered appetite. But again, before you start feeling like a black gentleman who accidentally wandered into a KKK convention, there are ways to manage your nutrition in times of stress.

Management tools:
  • Carve out 20 minutes to eat lunch away from your desk: Go outside, eat with a colleague, whatever. Just take a short time to really concentrate on, taste and enjoy your food
  • Make your lunch and snacks the night before, this is one less thing to stress about and will save you money and calories -> it'll also help if you're prone to sudden bowel evacuations due to stress. Here are some healthy lunch and snack ideas
  • Add your favourite herbs and spices to meals for extra stimulation of your oral cavity
  • Don't deprive yourself of a 'comfort food' 
    • For example, mine is chocolate. Buy a high quality dark chocolate that is preferably individually portioned already -> this will prevent you devouring a whole block (and no, a whole block is not a portion)
  • Remember the whole thing about intuitive eating? Yeah, that...

So there's your support the next time you feel like Oprah's bra staps... A little under pressure.

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