Stress is a reality for all of us everyday. Sometimes, when it becomes chronic, it is normal for your body to begin to undergo changes: your levels of cortisol and insulin increase, and it often increases your hedonist appetite, which is what makes you eat not out of necessity but out of pleasure. In this article, we will provide tips on how to not gain weight from stress.
When faced with stressful situations, our ancestors also suffered from calorie increase and fat accumulation, but their situation was very different: they developed a “flee” response when faced with a dangerous situation and needed that energy reserve in that case. For us, we can’t flee from our jobs or responsibilities which is why we find ourselves often resorting to food in order to get a moment of pleasure. We also feel how our body, in spite of not needing food, activates the need to eat certain products.
We should also mention that not everyone gains weight when stressed. Some people lose weight. But the most common trend is to pack on a few pounds, which begins a health problem that you should know how to stop. We will explain.
Why Do We Gain Weight When Stressed?
Stress is a signal form your body that tells you about what is around you, what isn’t right, and what is a threat to you: it pushes you, in some way, to produce some kind of response. Our ancestors lived in constant risk for their lives and they had to know how to detect, avoid, and, consequently, survive it all. Today, this sensation of danger or stress isn’t associated with these more physical stimuli. It has more to do with mainly psychological aspects: family, personal, or work problems. Therefore, stress causes very noticeable effects in your body, with weight gain being one of them. Let’s take a look at it to understand better:
- The adrenal cortex is stimulated, which produces the cortisol hormone.
- This hormone, cortisol, produces fat and glucose liberation from adipose tissue in the blood stream.
- Insulin, the hormone responsible for bring glucose to cells for storage from the blood stream, inhibits it in order for fat and glucose from the blood to be available as a source of energy in the tissue that needs it.
- Basal activation in the sympathetic nervous system is increased, especially in people that have diabetes, which causes obesity in people that are stressed.
- You have more desire to eat what they call “comfort foods” with fat and sugar. These are foods that act as opiates for your brain and tend to relax anxiety and stress.
- Stress at work in particular is associated with the consumption of fast food. It is usually common to eat this type of junk food while you work.
Avoid Gaining Weight When Stressed
The first method you should try is to get rid of your stress, know how to identify the causes, and deal with the problem properly. Establish a balance between your personal life by knowing how to prioritize. This will help you be able to face reality little by little. This is the first set to take, but we will see now what you should know how to treat in order to prevent stress from making you gain weight.
Identify When You Want to Eat
This is about studying your hunger. You should eat your main meals on a schedule. Breakfast is essential and dinner should always be a little lighter. When you are stressed, it is common for your brain to want to eat because it feels the need to stop anxiety with food and as a result it will get pleasure and relax. Identify when this happens to you: Before work? When you get home? Identifying the times is a way to control them. Avoid processed foods, sugar, and fat especially. Substitute them with the foods that we suggest.
Stress Reducing Food
It may surprise you, but there is food that will help you reduce stress and control your weight. Add them to your diet whenever you can.
Avocado has may essential nutrients that help reduce stress hormones, regulate blood pressure, and offer a satisfying feeling. Try to eat an avocado everyday, whether it is in the afternoon when you get hungry or in your salads.
Thanks to its antioxidants: polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins, it boosts fat elimination, and what’s most interesting, it stops the production of an inflammatory substance that causes hunger, which also accelerates metabolism. Green tea also calms your body and mind and regulates basic functions. You can drink it up to 3 times a day. You don’t even need to add sugar to it.
Another amazing antioxidant. They are an ally to your digestive system, kidneys, and bladder, but, besides that, they have great virtues for regulating stress.
Walnuts are an essential source of Omega 3. This fatty acid is very beneficial, it is a brain activator and cholesterol reducer. They are perfect for eating between meals and will regulate your stress.
Brown rice is an amazing source of vitamin B. Try to include it in your diet whenever you can. When your body gets a good dose of vitamin B, you will have less stress.
It may surprise you, but when you are stressed, eating dark chocolate that has between 70 and 90% of cocoa is very beneficial: it relieves fatigue, it provides you with magnesium, and most importantly, it reduces stress hormones. You can eat two ounces a day, and when you do so, eat it little by little, savoring the salivation.