Stress and Weight Gain – What’s the Connection?

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    You’re worried about your job, credit card bills are through the roof, your child is rebelling and your parents are aging. Let’s face it, we live in a stressful world and we all get stressed out at times. Being stressed out puts your health at risk for many ailments including heart attacks and diabetes. But did you know that having stress in your life can also make you gain weight?

    When you’re under a lot of stress, it is difficult to eat healthy and get adequate sleep. Both of which are essential in achieving your weight loss goals. Some, under particular high stress, tend to fulfill emotional needs while filling up on comfort food, which is known as emotional eating. Stress causes you to reach for high calorie foods even when you’re not hungry. So while being under stress, healthy eating habits go out the door.
    One of the main reasons stress causes weight gain is because the hormone cortisol levels rise during stressful times. Cortisol, termed as a stress hormone, promotes weight gain. The higher the stress level, the higher the cortisol level resulting in weight gain. Of course other factors play a role in gaining weight, such as a poor diet and lack of physical activity, but a prolonged amount of time under high levels of stress is a major one.
    Knowing that stress can lead you to gain weight, it is important to get a handle on your stress in order to prevent the weight gain. Stop weight gain related to stress by following these stress management techniques:
    o Exercise – this is the best stress reliever and it releases “feel good” endorphins. As little as 20 minutes of exercise three to five days a week can reap many benefits.
    o Never skip a meal – breakfast especially. Eating frequent small meals throughout the day help keep blood sugar levels steady and reduce cortisol levels.
    o Get adequate sleep – not getting enough rest raises cortisol levels and make you feel hungry even when you’re not.
    o Relax – curl up to a good book, practice yoga or meditation, get a massage, do anything that makes you feel calm and relaxed on a regular basis because relaxation produces brain chemicals that counter the effects of stress.
    o Before eating, stop – and ask yourself if you’re really hungry or are you just feeling anxious or stressed?
    o Keep whole grain, high fiber foods – and get rid of all comfort foods like pizza, ice cream, cookies and chips. This way when you are tempted to eat you are surrounded by healthy choices versus high calorie, high fat foods. Or better yet, if you’re tempted to eat and are not really hungry, try to find a distraction.
    o Take your vitamins – stress can deplete important nutrients therefore taking a multi-vitamin supplement is vital to ensure your body gets what it needs to deal with stress.
    It is important to recognize the warning signs of stress such as anxiety and irritability so that you are better able to gain control of your life and keep the weight off. If you maintain your healthy lifestyle, even at stressful times, you will be able to tackle weight issues before they become a serious problem.
    Cheers to a stress free, healthy life!

    Courtesy of Staff Writer for

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