To fuel the body's basic energy needs, calories are of course paramount. Yet many of us find it difficult to take in the right amount—and the right kind—of fuel. No matter how many dietary guidelines we're given, we still crave what we know is bad for us. And in an era where sugary and fatty snacks are often within arm's reach, resisting those cravings has become exceedingly difficult. And there is more to food and diet, because what you eat also carries cultural, social, and economic weight. Holidays and gatherings, for example, highlight food as the main event, which can complicate the meaning of a meal. So what's an average consumer to do? Read on for some insight into why we behave the way we do around food, and what you can do to make eating healthier just a little bit easier.
“Anytime you’re stressed, you probably go for food,” Dr. Seltzer says. (Have we met?!) That’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, stokes your appetite for sugary, fatty foods. No wonder it’s associated with higher body weight, according to a 2007 Obesity study that quantified chronic stress exposure by looking at cortisol concentrations in more than 2,000 adults’ hair.