Each of us handles stress differently. Some may overeat from the moment that a stressful situation occurs. On the other hand, there are also others that lose their appetites to the point that they don’t eat. Either coping mechanisms for dealing with problems from how our brains respond when stressors hit are not beneficial for stress and weight. Nonetheless, here are some useful tips to break this unhealthy cycle of stress and weight gain to keep the body from falling into that destructive trap.
Understanding how stress and weight are intertwined begins in the brain. After all, stress triggers an unwanted response by releasing the hormone of epinephrine (adrenaline). At first, this hormone may cause a loss of appetite. You may think what is so bad about giving up a few meals or just barely eating to put something in the stomach.
When under chronic stress cortisol floods the system, it’s common to eat more of the wrong foods to meet those chemical changes. Those individuals when upset turn to food in most instances will hunger for ones such as comfort foods like ice cream, cookies, French fries, and potato chips with lots of sugar or fats to feel better. The reason this temporary food fix seems to help boils down to our biology like other animals that answer that demand through more fats and sugars. If you’re under the assumption that all is risked from stress and weight is gaining several extra pounds, then you are sorely mistaken.
The real danger of chronic stress and weight gain from emotional eating is that doing so could permanently lock in a regular cycle of cortisol circulating through the body. Not only will the body continue to gain weight, but living continuously with anxiety will increase inflammation and set the stage for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and more.
As dire as the relationship between the stress and weight gain can be if the pressure persists, it can be reversed by nourishing the body with nutrients geared to benefit the brain. For example, stocking up with foods rich in vitamin E such as sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, broccoli, and avocados are just a few that can help reduce inflammation to decrease stress levels. Equally important is eating more foods with zinc such as beans, dairy, poultry, and whole grains as well as foods with omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, chia seeds, and hemp seeds, etc.
Yet, there is still more that can make a difference regarding stress and weight gain such as a lack of sleep. Have you noticed when under stress that the problems weigh heavily on the mind enough to keep you awake? As a result, this deprivation slows your metabolism so calories are harder to burn. You also get hungrier. Instead of just continuing to stare at the ceiling trying to figure things out, try sticking to a bedtime schedule where electronics are turned off a few hours before turning in at a regular time to sleep. Devoting some time to moderate exercise even something as simple as stretching can be advantageous. It can relax by the brain sending endorphins to improve mood and chronic stress. However, too much physical activity can do the opposite to compound stress.
Stress and weight gain don’t necessarily have to be in your future. All it takes is being proactive by taking a few precautions early on.