Spanista » Self Care Rituals, Reflections & Resources for Joyful Living by Ginny Shiverdecker

Good News Monday: Neurological Response to Stress Triggers Candy Brain


Dear Wellness Seekers,

Good News Monday: Neurological Response to Stress Triggers Candy Brain indicates there maybe something to the rom-com cliché of the jilted lover eating ice cream directly out of the carton. Gretchen Reynolds a regular contributor to ‘Well’ the New York Times personal health and wellness site shares her perspective in her article ‘Candy Brain, The pressures of life may change your neurological response to the foods you’re trying to avoid.’  So how is this good news? Well lets did a little deeper. See the Candy Brain in The New York Times Magazine from Sunday, August 23, 2015.

Spanista advocates the importance of recognizing our personal pressures by proactively monitoring and managing our stress load through Self Care Practices. As indicated in my previous postings and now again revealed in this article based upon findings from the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research at the University of Zürich, it is essential to consider the impact of stress which is linked to a variety of health problems including weight gain. The overriding theme of the article explores asking the question –  ‘Why do we reach for something sweet to quench our woes so often when we are faced with stressful situations?’

For Spanista followers I am most interested in exploring the aspect of Self Care as it relates to this condition – understanding the way we are wired in our brains so that we can create personal strategies to better cope in this complex world of influences.


Here are two important findings based upon a robust study:

  1. Being exposed to even mild stress the tested group was far more likely to choose unhealthy but tasty foods than those in the control group.
  2. And the greater the stress  – as determined by cortisol levels – the greater the attraction to rich, palatable snacks. Interestingly the parts of the brain that creates desire for these foods increased in desire while another part of the brain declined –  the focus on long-range planning.

Good News Monday: Neurological Response to Stress Triggers Candy Brain seems to indicate in  stressful circumstances we focus on in the moment gratification and forget about the future – we need to offset the pain points.  To Spanista knowing this offers insight to create a personal and thoughtful Self Care strategy that works for you.

Unfortunately the end of the article treated this aspect less than adequately….no resolve to consider – just will power to overcome sweets. Rather trite really. Spanista believes one needs to take a step back to see the big picture – evaluate the entire experience to see how you are coping with these situations – what are the trigger points to your stress – and can you see patterns of reactionary behaviour that are no productive for you? Take an objective view – you may see opportunities for adjustments you can make up-stream before you even get to reaching for the office donut pool. But even  if you find your self reaching for it – you may stop now out of knowledge of why you are doing it.

Either way Spanista feels you are ahead of the game. I know I am.

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,


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