How Stress Makes You Fat
How many times have you heard someone say “it’s just stress”? Well I don’t believe that there’s any “just” about stress — stress has been linked to
Breast cancer and many other diseases.
And when it comes to food, eating, digestion and weight, stress is a critical factor. A number of studies have shown that stress leads to weight gain by increasing the body’s cravings for sugary carbs and fatty foods.
In one study, a group of college-age men and women were told that they would have to prepare a short speech that would be recorded and assessed for quality. Another group weren’t given this task. All of the participants who had to present were so stressed by this news that their blood pressure went up and their mood declined. Then both groups were presented with a selection of food and told that they could eat as much as they wanted. All of the stressed-out group ate 88 percent more fatty, sugary foods than did their unstressed counterparts..
It’s not just that being tense makes you crave sugary snacks; stress also initiates a complex hormone which influences the body to hang on to fat. And when you’re stressed, your ability to digest food is also compromised. It’s well-known that stress greatly exacerbates digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS);
Deep relaxation and Mindfulness can be significantly more important than thorough chewing in terms of starting the digestive process.
The solution is simple: Reduce stress by being more present with whats happening around you, including your thoughts and eat slowly, mindfully and with present moment awareness of when you are full or should I say, feel content with the amount you’ve eaten, then stop.
Mindful eating and stress-reduction techniques can prevent individuals from being overweight and from gaining more weight, all this without dieting. As an added bonus, the women who had the greatest reduction in stress also lowered their bodies’ tendencies to hang onto deep belly fat (Visceral fat) the kind of fat that’s linked to heart disease and diabetes.
There’s no magic one-size-fits-all stress reduction plan, but some general approaches work for most people:
Try meditating. It’s a surefire stress reducer; studies show that meditation can greatly help in combating stress, and some suggest it works by actually changing the brain processing of food and mood. Very few of us will feel inclined or have the time to sit still for two hours at a time — but even smaller doses work. Cultivate the habit: Start with five minutes in the morning, and gradually work up to half an hour.
Get more sleep. If you don’t get enough, or if your quality of sleep is poor, you’ll be more likely to gain weight, partly because the sleep-deprived body craves carbs for quick energy.
Incorporate stress-reducing foods. If you’re going through a trying time, foods that soothe nerves can help. Stay away from refined sugars, eat adequate protein, and be sure you’re getting magnesium-rich greens, lots of vitamin C, and plenty of omega-3 fats.
Set life goals. Having a bigger vision helps to keep out the small stressors of daily life — and makes living more enjoyable overall.
Be present in the moment and life slows down a little.