This economic year has been one of crushing disappointments for many people. Increased debt, job loss, belt-tightening. Fear.
So much brutal situational stress. Combined with a holiday based on overindulgent consumerism.
This all means record-setting cortisol levels for most of the human population.
And now? Here come the consumer-frenzied holidays, to raise the pressure and the stress--- ways so potentially damaging to our health.
Christmas is all about consumerism. Giving and getting more stuff.
Buying and spending are incredibly powerful habits. From our first Christmas as toddlers, we're programmed to be greedy.
But for most people this year, there's fear of the future, and there's less and less discretional income to play with.
Cutting back during the gloom of the winter (during a food-stuffed holiday season) can trigger disastrous new habit patterns. Like binge-eating.
Several major studies recently demonstrated that when animals are stressed, deprived and exposed to tempting food, they overeat, with different degrees of very adverse interaction.
A study by M. Flavia Barbano, PhD, and Martine Cador, PhD, at the University of Bordeaux 2 in France, separated the distinct roles in consumption.
Food deprivation and the so-called "yum" factor. The interplay between internal and external factors regulates food intake, in mammals like us. Our brain's opioid, or reward, system governs overeating, especially when the food is extra-tempting.
During the food-packed holidays, even non-stressed people may fail to avoid overeating, and severely damage their health.
Why? Our world feels threatening, and the bizarre and disgusting concept of "comfort food" is always available.
And yet, what a deadly trap. Over-eating only increases our stress burden, putting us ever more in the energy hole, hurting us in every way.
Here's the syndrome. Even one cookie can trigger a binge, if your mood is down. You welcome the sugar rush, a little lift, but then comes the insulin, and you zoom back down, and need another sugar rush. It goes on and on.
Addiction to food can begin now, this holiday season, as you climb onto your very own permanent cardiac rollercoaster.
Your health is your greatest treasure. If you still have it, you are wealthy indeed.
So guard your health, and the health of your loved ones, guard yourself during these holidays--- a high-danger time, especially this year, of incredible stress.
Be content with less. Resist the urge to overindulge. Be warned and be smart!