Have you ever caught yourself with a handful of cookies while thinking about your relationship? Or maybe you prefer eating a big sandwich in front of the computer while you are trying to solve some financial problems?
Maybe you have small children and a bunch of things to be done, and you often eat the leftovers your kids left on the back seat?
If you recognize yourself in any of these roles, then you have probably noticed that your waist size has increased in the meantime. The stress you have been living with lately is the main reason for the weight gain.
The latest studies have discovered five major reasons for this condition, and a few tips on how to strike back.
Whenever your brain detects a threat, whether it is a snake in the grass or your boss is too nervous, it releases a whole cascade of chemicals including adrenaline and cortisol, so your body is prepared for an attack and it is able to withstand an injury.
In short terms, adrenaline helps you feel full, because the blood goes to the internal organs and muscles, and you are ready to fight or run. As soon as the first effect of adrenaline reduces, the cortisol goes into action, sending signals that some extra energy is required. Our ancestors fought with wild animals and they needed a lot of energy.
But today, people usually sit on the couch and worry how to pay their bills, or often do something that does not require a lot of energy. And there starts the magical circle in which people gain weight.
In the days when our ancestors fought with tigers and often felt hungry, their bodies were adapted so they can store fat for the long hauls they were used to. The area around the stomach is the perfect place for fatty deposits.
Hence, you are apt to receive and store excess fat deep in your bellies. Your stomach supplies the blood vessels and cortisol receptors with energy, and this process can run smoothly. But today, this “cushion” around the abdomen is a serious threat to your health, and it is quite difficult to get rid of it.
You enter the magical circle at the very moment when you try to fit in your new skinny jeans. The stress you experience at that moment slows down your metabolism and you start gaining weight.
Craving For (Fast) Food
Chronic stress makes you crave for some comfort food, and usually that is a large bag of chips or some ice cream.
You can eat any of these foods in a minute, and they are full of salt, sugar and fat. Stress can affect your brain, and cortisol makes you crave for sugar and fat. Stress can also bring back some childhood memories, for example the smell of your favorite cookies and these memories remind you of a warm and comfortable home.
So, when you are under stress, you usually sit in your car and go to the nearest fast food restaurant, rather than stop for a second and prepare your own meals.
You Sleep Less
Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night thinking about your job or your latest phone bill? More than 40% of people do this at night, which confirms that they are exposed to stress.
That’s the main reason for insomnia. In these moments your mind is overactive and disabled to shut down. Stress reduces the blood sugar levels, which leads to fatigue. Drinking coffee to stay awake or alcohol to relax before going to bed additionally disrupts your sleeping cycle.
Sleeping is also a powerful factor that affects the weight gain. Whenever you lack sleep, your body requires more sugar. Experts conducted a study which involved people who were trying to lose some weight, and they found that people who sleep enough get the desired results more easily than those who struggle with insomnia.
Adrenaline rush is a sign that your body is activated. Although the adrenaline can help you burn some calories, anxiety often causes emotional eating. Overeating or eating unhealthy foods come as a response to stress.
According to the latest research of the American Psychological Association, 40% of respondents said that food helps them deal with anxiety, and 42% sit for at least 2 hours in front of the TV for the same reason.
This means that anxiety disables you to burn those extra calories, and while you eat you can not focus on the taste of the food, nor control the feeling of satiety. In that situation, you may eat as much as you can, but you will never feel full.
How to relieve stress
Aerobic exercises will help you knock stress out. Exercising reduces the level of cortisol and triggers the body to release chemicals that relieve pain and improve your mood. Exercising also boosts your metabolism, and you can reduce the fatty deposits easily.
Learn how to eat smart
This mental program will teach you how to cope with stress and change your attitude towards food. You will learn how to take things slowly and thereby turn your food sensors on, and they will tell you how the food looks or smells like and also what is its texture like.
You will learn how to listen to your body and understand its signals about hunger and satiety, and you will eat only when you are hungry, not whenever the table is set or when it is lunch time. This will relieve the stress and depression.
Find activities to overcome stress
Reading a book, doing yoga, massage, walking your dog, spending some quality time with your friends or family could help you relieve stress and avoid gaining weight. You may think that you do not have time for these activities, but this is a great way to relieve stress and feel fresh. These activities will help you think more clearly and thus avoid frequent overeating.
Image and Content: Healthy Food House