3 Ways Fighting With Your Guy Is Literally Harmful To Your Health

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Yes, eating your feelings is a REAL thing.

By Julie Pennell

Let’s face it: no one ever wants to fight with their partner, but sometimes an argument is inevitable. And while you usually can’t control the situation or the emotions you feel during and after the conflict, you do have the power to control how it affects your health.

Below are a few ways that hostile arguments can sneakily mess with your physical well-being—and what to do about it.

1. It releases a hormone that makes you crave junk food.

According to a recent study published in Clinical Psychological Science, a heated argument with your partner can increase levels of ghrelin, a hormone that helps regulate your appetite.

“It’s generally thought to increase hunger, and thus food intake,” explains the study’s lead author Lisa Jaremka to Self.com. “But researchers think that ghrelin may be particularly tied to a preference for high fat and high sugar foods.”

According to the study, things like psychological abuse (e.g., disgust, contempt), distress-maintaining attributions (e.g., “You’re only being nice so I’ll have sex with you tonight”), hostility (e.g., criticism, rolling of the eyes), and withdrawal were some of the key behaviors that caused an increase in the hormone.

“The more that these behaviors occurred, the higher the ghrelin levels,” Jaremka said.

She adds that just knowing about this phenomenon could be helpful for people. You can’t change your hormone level, but you can have some healthy yogurt stocked for when you know you might crave Ben & Jerry’s.

2. It can hurt your heart... literally.

A lot of studies have looked at physical effects of positive partnerships and negative ones, but what if your relationship has both?

Researchers looked at couples who perceived each other as ambivalent (sometimes helpful, sometimes upsetting) and found that they may be at risk for a series of health problems such as high blood pressure, hypertension, and heart disease. The study found that calcium deposition in the coronary arteries was highest for individuals who both viewed and were viewed by their spouse as ambivalent. High coronary-artery calcification scores can result in limited blood supply to the heart and increase your risk of heart attack.

The next time you and your partner fight, go for a walk to clear your head and de-stress. And try to stay healthy during the good times, too. Keep your regular workout schedule and keep your plates packed with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes.

3. It can trigger depression and make you gain weight.

It’s no secret that arguing with a partner can make you sad. But it can also lead to more serious mental issues.

A recent study found that marital stress is associated with a higher incidence of depression. And now there’s also evidence that those with a history of depression gain more weight after arguing with their partner.

Forty-three couples ages 24-61 were given a heavy-calorie meal and then asked to discuss and try to resolve some kind of conflict in their relationship. Researchers then analyzed their airflow of oxygen and carbon dioxide, along with their glucose, insulin and triglycerides. They found that those with both depression history and a more hostile marriage burned an average of 118 fewer calories, which translates to weight gain of up to 12 pounds in a year.

They also found those with a mood disorder history had an average of 12 percent more insulin in the blood than low-hostility participants.

“Insulin stimulates food intake and the accumulation of fat tissue in the abdomen, and adding that on top of the lower energy expenditure creates a higher likelihood for obesity,” explained the study’s co-author, Martha Belury, a professor of human nutrition at Ohio State.

That means those with a history of depression get a double-whammy of negative effects from a fight. So, if you are at risk for this, make sure you continue to eat healthy and exercise to ward off those extra pounds.

The bottom line? A hostile relationship affects way more than your emotions. If you’re arguing a lot—and it’s taking its toll on your health—perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate things before it’s too late.

This article was originally published at Self. Reprinted with permission from the author.


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