Most of us are familiar with fear. It's that thing when you notice your heart is beating a little faster, your tummy may feel a little funny, or maybe your hands get a little clammy. Fear is a normal response to danger. What then is this word ANXIETY? Fear in the most extreme sense becomes anxiety and is still a normal response to danger.
Our brain is built to protect us. In times of danger the tiniest little part in our brain, the amygdala, prepares for an attack my a mountain lion. Useful maybe when we roamed with mountain lions. Less useful when most of the mountain lions we see are in cages or across moats at a zoo. The fight or flight response triggered by the amygdala produces immediate reaction in the way of movement away from danger. It does this by flooding the body with oxygen, hormones, and adrenaline. But, unless your danger causes a real need to flee you've just fueled up your body with extra awesome petrol and are just revving an engine that's up on stilts in the garage.
This is what anxiety feels like. It's that weird feeling you got that one time you had way too much caffeine when you thought it would be great to pull an all nighter studying for an exam and instead of being able to study you felt like you needed to go run a few miles. Now think about what that feeling does inside your stomach. It lights to furnace and puts it into overdrive. While some people will feel so pumped with adrenaline they can't even imagine eating; others will drive the body towards more fuel to be the most prepared to go into the battle for our lives. You haven't forgotten about the mountain lion, have you?
Consider for a minute how this anxiety if it occurs at a somewhat often or constant level can affect your desire to eat. Those who are more sensitive to feelings in their stomach may be triggered to either 'starve away' their anxiety or, 'eat it away'. While neither of these have anything to do with anxiety, the association can be created in the anxious person very quickly. With a wildly running nervous system it's hard not to want to fuel up at every rest stop- did I mention there is a mountain lion after you?