Stress, Anxiety, and Weight Gain

There are so many things to do, and so little time! Stop, right there, we all know what it’s like to be in stressful situations, but how often do we make ourselves pause, breath and relax? Stress and anxiety are the leading causes of undesirable effects on the body, including: depression, hypertension, and weight gain. Weight gain, itself, will contribute to undesirable effects! I encourage you to read this to understand a little bit why the body craves unhealthy foods or food in general when we are not really hungry.

How in the world does stress make you gain weight? The ways stress and anxiety lead to weight gain is because of the effects that stress has. You may find yourself eating more or overeating when you are under stress and trying to take your mind off situations. When you have a huge test to prepare for and are trying to procrastinate, I’m sure you don’t see yourself going to the veggie drawer; however, you will most likely see yourself going to comfort foods that are high in calories and fats. Some foods, like chocolates, are often chosen when you’re feeling anxious. Some of the chemicals in them help counteract some side effects of stress and anxiety. Although these foods may make you feel better, you may end feeling worse because of the excessive fat and calories that you just put into your body.

Ever hear of hunger hormones?

 When you’re stressed your body releases higher levels of cortisol, a natural hormone that plays an important role in regulating the systems of the body. Many studies show high levels of cortisol secretion in the system leads to increased abdominal fat and studies related to obesity. Cortisol “the stress hormone” helps maintain blood pressure and is involved in physiologic systems like: carbohydrate metabolism, inflammatory response, and immune function.

Under high stress related to life events: works, relationships, financial matters, or physical stress, cortisol’s levels raise and your body will have higher blood pressure, lowered immune system, inflammatory responses, decrease in muscle tissue, increase in appetite and craving for sugar.

Leptin & Ghrelin, more “Hunger hormones”

Leptin & Ghrelin also called “Hunger hormones”. Both hormones regulate our body weight. While Leptin is an appetite suppressor, Ghrelin increase our appetite. Symptoms of low levels of letptin are starvation and the need for a bigger appetite. High levels of ghrelin will stimulate your appetite. So, the more ghrelin you have, the more food you will eat.  A study in the “Public Library of Science Medicine” has shown people with less than 5 hours of sleep a night have important differences in the hormones Leptin and Ghrelin compared to people sleep 8 hours a night. The people who slept less than 5 hours  a night had 16% less Leptin and 15% more ghrelin in their systems.

So what do we do about this and how do we know we are not hungry? If you feel exhausted and stressed without sufficient sleep, listen to your body and relax, instead of eating sugar to feel energized. Although stress is unavoidable, learning how to deal with it is important to our mental health, happiness and body weight.

What are a few healthy ways to handle a stressful situation, and create a more relaxed life style?

Meditate or pray- It isn’t just about religion, several studies have seen that it promotes several health benefits. Take time with yourself and meditate to connect with yourself.

Yoga- Yoga is great for calming the mind and muscle recovery.

Sleep- The body needs a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep a night to recover.

Mix Your Routine- Go for a  different physical activity, stressful days can improve by changing the order of a training routine or doing a class like zumba!

Friends and Family- Talking with someone who loves you can help your stress because they care  about you and support you.

Eat the right food- Eating nutrients to boost immune systems will help us relax.

Blueberries & Oranges: energy boosters and rich in vitamin C to enhance your immune system.

Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oats) they are rich in Vitamin B & also supply serotonin the hormone of happiness.

Turkey, Tuna, Lentils: are also good source of vitamin B group which promote mental health.

Green vegetables: they are rich in vitamins and potassium. Good to calm our nerves.

Dried apricots: Rich in magnesium which is good to reduce heart palpitations produced by stress.

Food rich in omega 3 acids: are a natural anti-depressaverales confirmed that. Try to consume: fresh salmon, sardines, walnuts, flax seeds & pumpkin seeds.

I encourage you to take a step back from life sometime, and take in the moments that pass us by without us noticing. Stress and worry causes us to miss many important things that are right in front of our faces. Breathe, take five deep breaths to calm down when you notice stress arriving. “breathe in relaxation and exhale tension,” breathing helps me calm down in many stressful situations, you just have to practice! living without stress is much more healthy for the body and you, and being healthy makes us all happy!

5 thoughts on “Stress, Anxiety, and Weight Gain

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