Stress can lead to weight gain in several ways. Eating when you are not really hungry is a sure sign that your emotions are out of balance. Being too exhausted to exercise, becoming welded to the sofa and consuming high calorie junk food are all signals that somehow, at some level you are generating excess stress.
You have probably heard of flight or fight – the stress response. Actually there are other options too: fight, flight, freeze or flock. These are all survival strategies; really useful if you are being stalked by a predator. But they are not at all helpful if you are sitting in an armchair with the TV on winding yourself up about what a tyrant your boss is, or trying to work out why your children are so rude to you and so charming to your friends. If this is a one-off then there is probably no real issue, but if you are in the habit of generating stress in your body by persistently dwelling upon all the challenges in your life in unhelpful and negative ways, you run the risk of chronic stress and consequently you could end up with some pretty bad eating habits.
Over time stress will release cortisol, a hormone that helps you to manage stress. The cortisol speeds up the metabolism of fat and carbohydrate. Sounds good so far, you might think, but unfortunately there’s another consequence. All that newly accessible carbohydrate raises your blood sugar level so your insulin levels go up in order to cope with this rise in blood sugar. And with chronically elevated insulin levels, your appetite just keeps increasing. The more stressed you are, the longer you keep it up, the hungrier you get. And because we are creatures of habit, once you start to satisfy the cravings with junk food, you can pretty quickly establish a really enduring pattern that will have you bursting out in all directions.
That is why stress management can play a pivotal role in healthy attitudes towards eating. The fact is we each generate our own stress levels in response to events. Having practical strategies for managing our stress levels not only helps us to lead more positive and fulfilling lives, it can also help to keep us at a healthy weight. Going on a diet is so often a waste of effort because even if you do succeed in losing the weight, unless you tackle the emotional causes of over-eating, you will almost certainly out it back on again.
For me the solution is pretty simple: give people the means to manage their emotional state and the rest will soon follow. If you would like to know more do get in touch via this site or book yourself onto one of our ‘we can make you thin too’ seminars. All you have to lose is the weight.