Find out how to beat the cycle of stress weight gain
Once you let go of cravings it’s much easier to stick to eating healthily so you stay at your desired weight.
What is stress weight gain?
Gaining weight as a result of stress and then being stuck in a cycle of over-eating possibly leading to obesity.
How many of us hunt for food or drink when we are stressed?
I know when I get back home after a long day at work I am looking to boost energy levels, and have now taught myself to eat fruit to fill the gap, although there was a time when I would reach out for high calorie foods and then would feel guilty and upset with myself that I had put on weight!
Causes of stress that may contribute to weight gain:
Being in ‘overwhelm’-what is overwhelm?
Overwhelm may include:
· Having so… much to do, working to cover all your bills and outgoings, looking after children, aged parents, housework, paperwork, keeping up with emails etc.
· Being physically exhausted, mentally exhausted, having financial worries, and then worrying about the future
· Emotional stress arising from relationships in conflict, unresolved personal issues.
Stress weight gain
Why do we want to eat high calorie foods/drink when we are stressed? Because:
· Our brain alerts and reminds us to how we may have previously attempted to solve stress problems through eating high calorie food, one brain pattern matching signal is ‘craving’ and when we crave, we may reach for fatty, salty or sugary foods, (which are less healthy and lead to weight gain).
· Our brain habitually sends us on to the eating behaviour perpetuating the stress weight gain cycle
It’s known that too much stress is unhealthy and now there’s growing evidence that stress contributes to weight gain.
Comfort eating during stressful moments – is one of the main reasons we put on weight.
The brain produces adrenaline and cortisol whenever you’re frightened, anxious or stressed,these hormones instigates the fight-or-flight response that was incredibly important for your survival in prehistoric times.
Adrenaline’s main role is to make you focused and alert, with keen memory and concentration.
Cortisol helps increase heart and respiratory rates and getting your muscles tensed and ready for action, however, in the concrete jungle, of our modern world, the physiological processes of adrenaline and cortisol are not as useful in a world where physical dangers are few, but, despite this, whenever you’re stressed in the modern world–these hormones are released into your system.
Adrenaline levels drop substantially as stress lessens, however, cortisol remains in the body much longer, the hormone sends signals to refuel the body as soon as possible and indulge in foods loaded with carbs and fat that leads to weight gain in the chronically stressed. It’s a vicious cycle of stress.
There is a possibility of a link between high levels of cortisol and excess abdominal fat, also yo-yo dieting may produce stress and increase cortisol levels.
First steps to change
· Read avoiding stress webpage that includes many stress busting tips that will help you to reduce your stress levels.
· Give yourself balanced meals and snacks that include whole grains, vegetables, low protein and fruit. See managing stress in the workplace for nutrition help.
· Reduce caffeine, alcohol and sugar to avoid stress.
· Get exercise every day such as walking, swimming, dancing, gardening or going to the gym (40 minutes a day)
· Accepting yourself, thinking positively about yourself and your body helps stress levels just as you are…no matter whether you think you need to lose weight or get in better shape, use positive self-talk (even if there is room for improvement)!
· Take time for yourself every day to reflect/meditate
Try these stress-busting tips:
· Get a massage or foot-rub.
· Listen to a relaxation audiotape.
· Read for fun.
· Take a long, relaxing bubble bath.
· Fly a kite.
· Do a crossword puzzle.
· Take a walk on the beach.
· Take a yoga class.
· Include a weekly revitalizing fun activity into your schedule
20 minutes breathing meditation, just lie down and relax...
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