Stress and Weight Gain

stress and weight gain

      Stress and weight gain often happen because you've experienced a trigger to cause emotional eating or you are just eating out of nervous tension. Any type of stress can cause weight gain. Now scientists know that not only is there a link between stress and weight gain but they know that it happens even when you have NOT increased your caloric intake.

      You don't even have to eat more - you just need to be stressed!

     That's because stress triggers the body's conversion of food energy into glucose; in other words it raises your blood sugar. A biochemical process then activates fat cells and fat storage. The human body is actually hard wired to gain belly fat under stress.

     When your blood sugar is elevated you crave sweets so stress related eating leads to eating more of the wrong foods. So it becomes a double whammy. Stress causes weight gain AND eating more of the high glycemic foods.

     Are you feeling too much stress and getting a fat belly?   Too much stress over time will result in the extra tire around your middle and even obesity.   It weakens the immune system which can then lead to more disease.

You CAN change your thinking and change your life!

9 Ways to De-Stress

  • The easiest and best initial response is to immediately get into some physical activity, outdoors if possible. If you are feeling stressed it's time to leave your house and refrigerator and take a long, brisk WALK!    It's the most effective stress strategy there is and a wonderful habit.   You will lose fat if you do enough walking.   But any physical activity you enjoy will do as long as you are moving strenuously: swimming, biking, aerobics, dance, horseback riding...
  • Ok, now that you have gotten your blood circulation up and your lymph system stimulated, sit down, make yourself a cup of tea and relax!    Stress and weight gain do not occur if you are either in motion or in a peaceful state.   If it's a serious problem that has you tied up in knots, think it through, identify your resources, clarify your options by writing them down and then....let it go.
  • That's right, let go of the problem and only think about everything that's right in your life.     The solutions will eventually come to you. You've got to manage your stress by managing your thinking.    Focus on the positive.    Do not dwell in negative thinking or even on your problem.    Masahide, the poet, says "Barn's burnt down. Now I can see the moon."    Take the necessary steps to solve your problems but pay attention to the moon.    Pay attention to the good in your life even if it seems to be eclipsed by the problem.   What you focus on will expand and grow.
  • Organize your living space. Read up on Feng Shui for a harmonious environment. If you have a big mess take a small area each day and make it orderly. We can all eat an elephant one bite at a time. Get rid of the clutter. Put every single piece of paper in a file or throw it away. Deal with your mail the day it comes. Stress and weight gain do not occur in a peaceful, orderly life.
  • Say NO!   You cannot do everything you are asked to do.    Prioritize, make a schedule and stick to it.   Write everything you need to do in a daytimer. The more organized you are the less likely stress and weight gain occur.
  •   Nourish your friendships.   Laugh and have fun every day - even if it's just 10 minutes rolling on the lawn with your child.   Rent a comedy and laugh together with your spouse or kids. It's impossible to be stressed out while laughing!
  • Get 8 hours of sleep no matter what!    When we are sleep deprived we have a much harder time staying positive. You can also lose your resolve and snack on the wrong carbs.   It's a recipe for getting sloppy.
  • Remember that FOOD IS FUEL! This is your mantra. We only get one body this time around. You need to nourish your body with healthy, live foods, fresh air and good water. You CAN prevent too much stress and weight gain if your lifestyle includes habitual, daily exercise and healthy eating.
  • Be grateful. Every morning for 21 days write down 3 things in your life you are grateful for. Your life will change forever in a good way if you do this simple thing. The more thankful you are for what you have, the more good things will come your way. This really does work - try it. You cannot be grateful and stressed at the same time.

     Cortisol and stress are related. Cortisol is a hormone created by the adrenal glands and has the following functions in the body: glucose metabolism, regulation of blood pressure, insulin release for blood sugar maintenance, immune function and the inflammatory response. As you know, if you have high blood sugar you are releasing sugar quickly into the blood which causes fat storage.

      When you are stressed, hormones, especially cortisol do not function properly which adds to the stress and weight gain problem. Chronic stress can lead to a weakening of the entire immune system which of course reduces the body's ability to fight disease. In fact, stress can stop the functioning of your immune system completely.

     Stress and weight gain do NOT have to be a part of your experience. When it's chronic it's so important to find the right support to figure out where your anxiety is coming from so you can release those unhappy memories. You may need extra help to stop emotional or stress eating. Normal stress we cannot eliminate entirely from our lives but we can work on how we respond to it.

       Some stress is good...it keeps us awake and on our toes. When it becomes intense it's time to get up and move into action.   And if it's unusually intense and lasts over a long period of time it can be extremely debilitating.  Chronic stress is a medically recognized factor for disease. 

     You can release moderate stress when you become aware of it by taking action.  Check every thought that comes into your head.    Is it constructive, positive, optimistic and kind?

     Remember to BREATHE,  nice and slow, focus on the good, be grateful. 


*If you feel overwhelmed by the stress in your life be sure to see a doctor for a complete check up and a referral to a mental health professional.  



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