Posted by: manjitsandhu | January 20, 2010

Why Stress Causes You to Gain Weight AND Can You Really Do Anything About It?

I think, we all are aware of the fact that Stress negatively affects weight in a multitude of ways. Today we will cover the effect of stress on weight gain and discuss a few things you can do to control the stress induced weight gain.

For those of you who are scientifically inclined, here are a few facts; When you are under stress, your body uses up more of the hormone cortisol, which is produced by your adrenal glands, than when you are not feeling as much stress. As your cortisol levels deplete, your body feels like it needs more energy. Since energy for your body comes from eating, being negatively stressed (high stress) can cause you to eat more.

If you are in the habit of trying to boost your energy when you are stressed (as most people are), you most likely reach for food items with a high quantity of sugar or that are made primarily of carbohydrates (candy bars, ice cream etc). These foods give you a quick energy boost, but the energy boost is only temporary. What happens as a result of this is a vicious cycle of eating more of the foods that temporarily boost your energy every time that temporary energy boost is no longer felt. Your blood sugar will yo-yo from high to low, and your body will gain weight easily. It is very likely that your body will continue to  gain weight if this eating pattern is followed.

Another effect of negative stress on your body is that it depletes the neurotransmitters that make you feel good (and this is very bad). You have probably  heard of serotonin. It is a neurotransmitter that helps us not to feel depressed, but its production is dependent on the proper functioning of your adrenal glands.

If they are busy pumping out cortisol because you are under stress, they do not have the ability to make the neurotransmitters that your body needs to function at its best. You will crave the foods you should not have, primarily simple sugars and carbohydrates, as a way of trying to feel good and replacing the chemicals that your body is not making, or is making in insufficient quantities.

If that is to happen, you have two choices to prevent gaining weight;

Your first choice:  Recognize the fact that you will feel the urge to “binge eat” when stressed and replace the “wrong” foods with healthier foods that are low in sugar and low in calories. Unfortunately this is easier said than done (or you can explore the second choice listed below);

Your second choice:  Learn how to “feel-good” all throughout the day and replenish the neurotransmitters that make you feel good and hence reduce the urge to eat unhealthy food. Hmm sounds good ! But how does one do this? Regular practice of meditation is one of the easiest way to achieve this goal. Find a local teacher who can induct you into the art of meditation. Once you start regular practice, you will notice that in a relatively short period of time you will overcome the uncontrolled urge to eat.

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Thanks for visiting us today. Manjit Sandhu


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