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Stress-Induced Weight Gain: Understanding and Managing Emotional Eating

Stress and Weight Gain: A Bad Mix

Stress is something we all deal with. The 2017 Stress in America Survey by the American Psychological Association showed that 3 out of 4 Americans had stress symptoms in the last month. Sadly, this extra stress can lead to putting on weight. Whether it’s because of eating too much, eating unhealthy food, or your body’s reaction to high cortisol levels, it’s important to handle stress to avoid gaining weight because of stress.

Here’s how stress affects your body:

  1. Cortisol Increase:
    • When you’re stressed, your body makes cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone.
    • Cortisol gets your body ready for action, but if you’re always stressed, you get too much of this hormone.
    • The issue? Cortisol also makes you want to eat a lot.
    • It’s no surprise that many people eat comfort food when they’re stressed.
  2. Calories and Cortisol:
    • Extra calories eaten when cortisol levels are high usually end up around the belly.
    • Eating because of stress often means eating foods that are high in calories, sugar, or fat.
    • These choices lead to weight gain.
  3. Slower Metabolism:
    • A 2015 study found that women who were stressed burned 104 fewer calories after a meal high in fat compared to women who weren’t stressed.
    • Their metabolism slowed down, which could lead to gaining 11 pounds in a year.
    • Stress also raises insulin levels, which changes how your body uses calories.
  4. Risks in the Long Run:
    • Besides gaining weight right away, long-term stress can cause serious health problems.
    • If stress isn’t treated, it can lead to depression, high blood pressure, trouble sleeping, heart disease, anxiety, and obesity.
    • It’s important to handle stress for your overall health.

Remember, stress doesn’t just affect your mind—it affects your body too. Make stress reduction a priority through mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and getting professional help if you need it. Your waistline and your overall health will be better for it!

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