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Massage keeps the Munchies away

Duchy Originals Chocolate thinsI’m munching my way through a box of Duchy Originals Chocolate Thins. It’s been a crazy two weeks, new stress coming at me from every angle; new Return to Glory website, new (very easy to use) online booking system, new school year and a new (slightly crazy) puppy determined to resist housetraining. If things don’t calm down soon, it won’t be long before I’m single-handedly funding HRH Prince of Wales’ biscuit division. Usually a night out with Hubbie at Hampstead’s Frascati, massage by one of the fabulous Return to Glory therapists or one (totally uninterrupted) hour perusing scientific journals (hang over from my days working as innovation consultant) calm me right down. However, with all the Return to Glory massage therapists busily working out the kinks of stressed Londoners from North Circular to South Circular (and everywhere in between) and Hubbie working crazy long hours (is crazy now running in our family?), I turned to Duchy Originals and an old issue of the Harvard Medical School Journal (Feb 2012).

The article “Why stress causes people to overeat” stopped me mid-munch. I’d always believed that stress shuts down appetite. Stress releases the corticotropin hormone which suppresses appetite. The brain also sends messages to the adrenal glands to pump out adrenaline, which helps trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response; a revved-up physiological state that temporarily puts eating on hold.

What I didn’t realise is that if stress persists, it’s a different story. The adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, which actually increases appetite and may also ramp up the motivation to eat. Once a stressful episode is over, cortisol levels should fall, but if the stress doesn’t go away – or if a person’s stress response gets stuck in the “on” position – cortisol may stay elevated. Numerous studies have also shown that over time, stress gradually increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. This could possibly explain why I’m halfway through a packet of Chocolate Thins.

Oh dear, stress munchies could be making me chubby. I’ve booked myself in for two hours with the next available Return to Glory therapist.

Keep calm. Carry on.

Natasha (Founder)