Are you feeling bigger around the waist? Do you happen to be eating more lately? Did you ever think that stress could be the culprit, Does stress cause weight gain? Yes, truth be told it actually can. But, how you may ask?
You may have actually been pointing the finger at the lack of time you have as a mother to eat a healthy diet. Maybe you don’t always eat a healthy balanced breakfast because you are so busy with the kids. Maybe you have no time because you work hard and can’t find the time to eat a healthy lunch. Any of these could be a great reason, but…
We have always known for quite some time that stress can cause you to put on some extra belly fat because of our increased appetite, decreased mood, and intact of junk food, you know it as “stress eating”. But research shows that stress actually does more and actually messes with your metabolism.
How can stress cause weight gain?
We have spoken about the hormone cortisol before, and how it plays a big part in stress but constant elevated levels of cortisone can lead to depression, sleeplessness, and obesity.
Cortisol is important for the maintenance of our bodies blood pressure and it helps provide the body with energy. It also maintains the blood sugar levels and aids in the metabolism of fats.
When levels are high your insulin levels can drop and your body can start to crave fatty or sugary foods which can lead to weight gain.
However, stress-related weight gain is due to a combination of things and not just elevated cortisol levels, some of those things include:
- low physical activity
- increased caloric intake,
- genetic factors
How we react to stress is different for each of us and the amount of cortisol released may be different. It is not possible to predict whether your cortisol levels will be elevated and result in weight gain.
How to beat stress-induced weight gain?
When we are affected by the temptation of stress eating we make it harder by having the items easily accessible in our cabinets. Here are a few ways you can fight the temptation and counteract the urge to stress eat.
Instead of reaching for fatty and sugary foods reach for a healthy replacement. Instead of cookies…a banana. Instead of ice cream….yogurt. Keep your cabinets stock with healthy items to make this transition much easier.
Sleep is an essential part of our lives and important to stress prevention. Sleep deprivation affects our mood and can make it hard to function which adds to our stress. With the right amount of sleep, however, you feel much better and you are more likely to eat properly.
You ever hear the saying “moderation is key” well the same is true here. You don’t want to make it a habit to give in to your sugary or fatty cravings when you are stressed but you don’t want to deprive yourself either. Why might you ask? By keeping your cravings in check you prevent your bodies cortisol levels from getting out of whack. Don’t deprive yourself, however, this will make yourself more likely to binge eat.
Many studies have proven the effectiveness of meditation on stress. Not only that but by meditating you can find the time to stop and think about your actions before making the wrong choices. Meditation can help give the willpower you need to fight those cravings.
The support of your family, friends, and co-workers is a great way to put a buffer on the effect of stress according to Harvard. Those who have the support and help of others in stressful events have an easier time recovering. Also, having someone around is great motivation to make the right choices and they can keep you in check when you make the wrong ones.
Stress eating affects many people every day. Stress takes a toll on your system and the most effective strategy against stress eating is prevention. Make sure you get enough rest, eat a healthy diet, and exercise, that way your body has the tools required to combat stress.
If you have any tips you would like to share about stress eating or want to share your experience please do so below. Any feedback is welcome!