There is said to be two types of people- those who "starve" their stress and those who "feed" it. I'm sure we all know someone who seems to slim out or fill out during stressful periods- is there a benefit one way or the other? It seems to be dependent on the "kind" of person, but I'm not sure if that's just a generalization handed to us from the media/society.
Seeing as it is exam season, I've just been noticing people around me either eating all the time (people who I've never even seen bother with lunch having a snack every 20 mn) or people who don't seem to eat at all (feel sick if they eat and forget about meals). In the context of paleo, is there a benefit of providing yourself with extra nutrients to get through a stressful period of time? Or, is it better to fast and use the reserves you already have to deal with stress? Is there a difference between physical stress (ex. training, sickness) and emotional stress (ex. life business, change in the family) and how they should be treated in terms of eating?
Feed it...with relaxation, walks, social support, petting your cat, reading a book in the sun, even a funny TV show, or anything else that reduces tension.
During stressful times, I think it's harder to decipher your body's needs. People who are extremely stressed may skip meals, but that's not always a "healthy" sign since the body may be overwhelmed with dealing with the stressor. That's why some people under stressful times lose weight. It's not a way to reduce stress, rather it's a physical consequence of the body having a hard time handling too much at once. I'd eat normally if you can. I don't think stress eating or under-eating helps you with retaining any information or affects your exam performance positively.
I agree somewhat with Wowza that, to the extent possible, identifying ways to keep day-to-day stress to a minimum are important. However, 65 years of life have taught me you will have periods of stress no matter what you do.
Sometimes I feed it and sometimes I starve it. My only "rule to self" is I no longer feed it with junk food. Basically, I fast until I feel powerful gut hunger and then I eat fatty meat. Based on how I react to the meat I may or may not add raw vegetables and fruits. Nothing processed at all other than my usual morning coffee with cream and honey.
Interesting, I never heard of starve-it or feed-it responses to stress. I have a bunch of essays due and finals coming up (and graduation!!) so my stress levels are about to go through the roof! Now that I think about it, when I'm doing some intense studying for long periods of time, I tend to get hungry much more quickly (well, my brain IS using all that glucose to fuel itself I guess haha). So in my experience, I think it's better to "feed" your stress because maybe fasting/"starving it" would just exacerbate cortisol levels. But then again, there are some people who go way overboard on eating when they're stressed out. Like everything else in life, it's all about balance.
As far as a difference in emotional/mental/physical stress, I would say they probably illicit the same bodily responses (i.e. fight-or-flight).