How stress eating leads to more weight gain?

Stress has become an inevitable part of our lives. The world is not as simple as it used to be before. Sure, there was stress-inducing situations in the past, but, they lie nowhere near to the amount of stress and pressure one feels even at a very young age today. The level of competition has increased, and everything is changing and improving in the blink of an eye. Hence, one has to stay constantly updated about everything. In our working lives things are not easy too; with deadlines, meetings, reports, paying bills, can all cause us to feel tremendous amounts of stress.

What is stress eating? How is it induced?
Stress is a hormone which makes our body crave foods that are high in fats and contain loads of sugar. That is why fried food, fast food, chocolates, and ice cream are known as comfort food. Various experts have researched and found that weight gain is actually linked to stress. This is because stress causes a person to eat fatty comfort foods until he or she feels better than before. On the other hand, researchers have also found that stress can shut down our appetite for a short amount of time. In such a case, our adrenal gland receives a message from our nervous system to produce a chemical called ‘epinephrine'. This chemical makes your body go into ‘fight or flight’ mode and temporarily shuts down your appetite. When your body passes that phase, you start eating without proper judgement, with a tendency to eat unhealthily. Even if your body feels satisfied, your mouth will want to chew and swallow something. This is known as stress eating, which eventually leads to extreme weight gain.

Common signs of stress eating:
The following are the signs that you have fallen prey to stress eating.

  1. You crave and eat sugary foods and foods that are high in fats.
  2. Your hunger is emotional or mental. You have stopped treating food as fuel but, as a means to reward or comfort yourself.
  3. You are not eating healthy food but rather are indulged in fast food options. 
  4. You find yourself too tired or busy to exercise. 
  5. You forget to drink water, and you would rather drink coffee, tea, alcohol, or sugary soda.
  6. Your sleep cycle has been disrupted.
  7. You are trying to skip meals and opt for fad diets to control your increasing weight.

How can one overcome stress eating?
To overcome your stress eating habits, you will have to follow the tips provided below.

1. Manage your stress:
Stress management can help you not only reduce your stress, but, this will also curb your unhealthy eating habits. The best way to manage your stress is through meditation, going on walks, organizing your to-do lists according to the priority of your task and making sure that you get some time to breathe. So, take some time out of your busy work life and try to incorporate these stress management tips.

2. Eat healthier foods:
Whenever you feel like stress eating, remind yourself to choose healthier options. Look for food options that are high in nutrients such as unprocessed meats or fresh vegetables. Foods that are high in magnesium can also help you manage your stress – as magnesium is needed to produce our sleep hormones melatonin, and our feel-good hormones serotonin. Such foods include spinach, kale, dark chocolate, pili nuts, avocados and bananas. These foods help to keep our mouths busy, body satisfied, and nutritional needs fulfilled.

3. Exercise:
Working out is one of the best ways to reduce stress and tackle all the other challenges that come along with it. Even a 15-minute jog will do the trick for you.

Stress eating can result in obesity and other illnesses related to it. So its important to not wait for something to change, but take active steps in making the right changes to your life. You might experience changes in your weight once you master control over what you eat, but most importantly you will definitely feel better and energetic as a result.


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