Can Stress Make You Gain Weight?
You have been working out vigorously to lose weight, but you are experiencing problems at work and home. These problems keep you in a state of constant tension and anxiety. With time, it begins to show in various ways. One of the things you start noticing is the bulge in your abdomen getting bigger. You start getting worried because previously you had managed to shed off extra pounds, but now they are back, and you are wondering what the culprit is? Most likely the enemy is stress!
Stress can affect your body in many ways, but few people link it with weight gain. Basically, there are several ways stress is linked to putting on extra pounds. One of these is cortisol-the stress hormone. During stressful events, the fight or flight mechanism is activate leading to the release of several hormones including adrenaline and cortisol. You want these hormones to be released when you are being attack , however you do not want them around all the time. Unfortunately if your a chronic stressor, that is, you are always stress out about one thing or another those stress hormones will stick around.
Fight or Flight Stress Hormones
When you are being attacked or your become alarm by something whether it is good or bad your brain sends a signal to your adrenal glands and your adrenal releases two stress hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. Once the threat has passed the adrenal glands stops releasing the hormones. Adrenaline tends to wear off faster compared to cortisol, so, after the situation has calmed down a little, your body is still flooded with cortisol. When these hormones are floating around it stops other process in your body such as digestion, immunity, growth and reproductive system. If this happens to often it can be detrimental to your health. Furthermore, when there is high levels of cortisol floating around the body then there is also high level of sugar and insulin. To add fuel to the fire, eating a high carb diet and increase cortisol causes an increase in insulin level.
High insulin levels in your body prevents you from using fat for energy and high blood sugar can lead to Diabetes. Both of these situation will cause to gain weight around your belly.
Most people reach for food when they are under stress. However, instead of reaching out for healthier alternatives such as fruits, you are most likely to go looking for the cookies and cream. These are your comfort foods. We all have a few. In response to comfort foods, the pleasure center in your brain send signals to the body which in turn temporarily lowers stress levels by releasing endorphins. These feel good chemicals are similar to the ones that are trigged when drug addicts consume their drug of choice. And just like they do over time, you associate junk food with low-stress levels making you likely to eat them when you feel anxious.
When you lie awake at night wondering how you will pay your bills or balance family and work, your mind becomes over active and refuses to switch off. This leads to insomnia which affects the regulation of leptin and ghrelin-hormones that regulate appetite. In addition, not getting enough sleep weakens your willpower to turn down junk foods.Later in the day you confuse hunger and sleep. You the choose to eat because you are tired and not because you are hungry. It is very difficult to tell the difference when you are tired and stressed.
How to Manage Stress
Stress can sabotage your weight loss goals. Regaining the weight you loss can add even more weight which can be very discouraging and make you want to give up. All remember ” this too shall pass” and stress is inevitable. However, all is not lost. To keep off stress-related weight, you need to do the following:
Give The Stressor Some Distance
If possible, the first thing you should do is remove yourself from the stressful situation. There is no point in staying in a stress situation and think it will only get better without taking some action. If you cannot remove yourself permanently , then distance yourself. If you know the situation is temporary then you should look for ways to manage and ask for help if necessary. Sometimes we take on way too much without realizing it until we are overwhelmed.
”No” I can’t do that right now or ever should always be an option.
Stress erodes your ability to consciously choose the healthier food as the body craves for foods high in sugar and fats which defeats your weight loss goals. To get your groove back, harness the power of mindful eating. These techniques are mostly taught in meditation classes and help you to transition from emotional, compulsive eating to conscious eating. Mindful eating means that you slow down and tune into your diet. Your senses come alive to the experience of eating. You start seeing food from a holistic point of view by acknowledging the texture, sight, and smell of the meal. In addition, it helps you to tune into the subjective feelings of fullness and hunger rather than eating just because there is a meal in front of you or because you are anxious.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal of your goals, responses and experiences help in keeping your mind and hands busy. In addition, it gives you insight into why you are experiencing stress and captures your expectations that could be increasing anxiety in your life.
Here are other ways to manage stress:
- Get Social
- Get A Massage
- Listen to You Favorite Music
- Use Aromatherapy
- Breathing Exercise
- Read a Book
- Be Grateful and Positive
- Watch a Funny Movie
- Take a Warm Bath
- Have Sex
- Get a Dog
- Cut out caffeine and sugar
- Play with kids in your family
- Take Magnesium
- Get a good night sleep
Stress causes some individuals not to eat . Consequently they will not the overeating issues mentioned above. However, if you know you head for the chips and dips when you are stressed then you need to find better ways to manage your anxiety without binge eating. Losing weight is not an easy process especially when you are experiencing stress. Your goal should be to promote peace and calm in your life.