You're having a stressful period at work or at home, You're stressed and it's starting to show - in more ways than one. It's a little harder to get into your favorite pants, but where do these extra pounds come from?
Stress could be one of the culprits. Unfortunately, it plays a role in weight gain. While it may make you feel less hungry at first, long-term "chronic" stress actually increases your hunger.
Fight or Flight
Most of us become overeaters when we feel a lot of pressure. This happens thanks to your fight-or-flight response, also known as survival mode - once your body reaches a certain stress level, it does what it sees fit. In most cases that means overeating.
Why? Because your body thinks you've used calories to deal with your stress, even though you haven't, says Pharmacist Dirk Christiaen. As a result, it thinks you need to replenish those calories even though you don't need to.
Cortisol and Comfort Food
Levels of “the stress hormone,” cortisol, rise during tension-filled times. This can make overeating a habit. Because increased levels of the hormone also help cause higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods.
So instead of a salad or a banana, you're more likely to reach for cookies or macaroni and cheese. That's why they're called "comfort foods." Food can also be a source of comfort and we try to reduce our stress, says Pharmacist Dirk Christiaen.
"This happens, in part, because the body releases chemicals in response to food that can have an immediate calming effect."
Fatty and sugary foods are usually the big culprits because many of us have such a strong love for them.
The conclusion? “More stress = more cortisol = higher appetite for junk food = more belly fat, unfortunately.” says Pharmacist Dirk Christiaen.
Lasting Effects of Weight Gain
Carrying around extra pounds can lead to other more serious problems, including: High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke,...
Tips to Reduce Your Stress
Exercise, but don't overdo it. Intense workouts can increase cortisol levels. Try a brisk walk, for example.
Meditate, or try other mindful breathing exercises such as yoga and tai chi. These can help clear your mind and suppress cravings for comfort foods.
Seek support from family and friends. It's always good to have someone to talk to or lean on. If you feel tense, talk to someone about it.
Try specific supplements that provide calming effects and reduce the impact of stress on your body.
Make sure you get enough sleep too.
Pharmacist Dirk Christiaen
Founder of Metis Supplements