Stress and Weight Gain: How Stress Influences Weight Gain and What to Do About It
You’ve probably heard that stress is a silent killer, but did you know that it’s a silent eater, too?
Stress feasts on your nerves, but it can also drive you to commit large-scale cookie jar raids that will add quite a few inches to your waist circumference. This will make cholesterol and fat cells block your blood vessels quickly and efficiently.
But why are we humans such easy prey to food binges when anxiety hits the fan, and how can you prevent stress from adding fuel to the fire of weight gain?
The Double-Edged Sword of Survival
According to science, appetite spikes in times of stress are written in the human DNA.
Exposure to stressful situations triggers a chain reaction in the body involving increased release of the so-called stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, epinephrine, and norepinephrine).
These hormones boost alertness and energy essential for survival. Unfortunately, stress-induced cortisol spikes take time to wear off. As these spikes begin to normalize, they signal the nervous system that it’s time to replenish energy expended through fight or flight.
As carb- and fat-rich foods are highest in energy, your brain will take the cue, and you’ll find yourself reaching for comfort food before long. Still, unless you plan to expend the calories you consumed through banquets after stressful situations, your body will convert extra energy into fat. As a result, you’ll soon wake up to the image of a stress-puffed self staring back at you from the mirror.
Trick the Trickster of Stress Eating
Stress is a normal part of life. However, in case it occurs often or persists for extended periods of time, you’ll need to invest active effort to cope with it. Don’t use tricks which involve uncontrolled intake of Oreos and chicken McNuggets!
Below are 5 ways that will help stop stress from eating you up (quite literally so).
1. Sweat Stress Out of Your System
When stress hits the fan, hit the gym, not the fridge.
An intense workout the best way to get pent-up negativity out of your system, and it’s also beneficial for your cardiovascular and bone health, muscle toning, and overall fitness.
Just make sure to have quality gym clothes and shoes to avoid injuries and to take your performance to a higher level.
2. Deep Breath In, Built-Up Stress Out
Stress-relief exercises don’t stop on the physical level: controlled breathing is one more strategy to keep your response to stress (and your fridge safety) in check.
The next time stress goes through the roof, don’t stuff your belly with food: fill it with deep, relaxing breaths.
3. De-Stress Through Elbow Grease
If you loathe the idea of gym workouts, you can still purge your mind of stress and help your body knock off a couple of pounds by good, old manual labor.
Hobbies such as carpentry and gardening are ideal for accumulated tension, and they also provide a constructive way to channel stress.
4. Ommm Your Way to Nirvana
Ancient sages practised meditation for a good reason: an Ommm session a day can help keep stress at bay – or at least cope with it without falling prey to tension-induced sugar cravings.
To keep the Zen state of mind when stress hits home hard, light a few natural smudge sticks, get into the lotus position, and start Ommm-ing away.
It’s better for your mental and physical health and it’s also cheaper than doughnuts and take-out pizza.
5. Take Stress Out for a Walk
Running from stress is impossible, but taking negativity out for a run is not only feasible, but also extremely beneficial for your mind and heart’s sake.
Evening jogging sprees are ideal for venting stress and anger. Running sprees will also stabilize your heart rate and blood pressure, tone your muscles, and nudge weight loss onto the speedy lane.
Stress is a multi-edged sword that cuts deeper than you’d think. It can shrink your clothes in a matter of weeks if you fall into the trap of stress-induced food binges.
Fortunately, preventing emotional overeating is 100% feasible granted you have the right strategies in your bag of stress management tricks – and now you do.
Author: Nicole Noel
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The material provided on this site is for educational purposes only. None of the recommendations is intended to replace the advice of your physician. You must seek advice from a competent medical professional regarding the applicability of any recommendations with regard to your symptoms or health condition. Only a qualified medical professional can give you the correct advice and treatment for your medical condition.
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