Stress Can Trigger Weight Gain

Filed under: Stress Reduction, Weight Loss

We know that stress can contribute to all sorts of health problems, such as immune dysfunction and heart disease, and now you can add weight gain to the list. Cortisol produced by your body during stressful events can affect your appetite, and even trigger increased fat storage in cells. This could be a helpful biological adaptation during times of famine or war, but of course in our everyday lives it’s just a nuisance.

As we bustle about, trying to handle long work commutes, school schedules, social obligations, appointments, bills, and more trappings of modern life, stress is an understandable result. But because it can trigger weight gain and make it even harder to shed excess pounds, you would be wise to manage your stress before any more damage is done.

Identify stress triggers, and change or avoid them. Identifying a problem is the first step to changing it. Analyze your daily life and decide which types of events or situations tend to trigger your stress, and then make a plan to either avoid those situations or improve them.

Exercise. A reasonable amount of exercise can relieve stress. Just avoid very high-intensity workouts when stress is severe, because in some cases that will only raise your cortisol levels even higher.

Ask for support. Certain people are more likely to experience high levels of stress than others. In particular, the typically self-reliant types (who feel awkward about asking for help) often suffer the most. Work on practicing this skill with family and friends, and consider making an appointment with a professional mental health counselor if your stress is severe.

Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation further disrupts hormone levels, so don’t add to your stress by practicing poor sleep habits. Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, invest in a white noise machine or room darkening shades if needed, and avoid “screen time” and caffeine before bed.

Meditate or pray. Practice mindfulness techniques according to your personal beliefs. Meditation, prayer, yoga, tai chi, and similar practices can make an enormous difference when performed regularly.

Support your body nutritionally. Avoid processed foods, high in sugar, because they only aggravate blood sugar fluctuations and hormone disruptions. Eat a healthy diet high in lean protein, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

On that note, contact us to learn more about stress reduction techniques and correct nutrition. We can help you protect your health and avoid unnecessary weight gain.

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