Why Stress Causes People To Overeat And Suggestions To Relieve Stress So You Don't! 🤪
Yesterday I woke up and I just didn't feel really well, I was kind of down. And I don't normally weigh myself all the time because I tend to gauge by my jeans. (Weight loss isn't always shown on the scale so make sure you try your jeans on!) But I got on the scale and I GAINED 5 POUNDS! It was because I had been STRESS EATING. I think everything going on with COVID-19, quarantine, etc is causing everyone a bit of stress, and of course, we had some caramel and cheddar popcorn stored away from the last time Rob George and I went to Costco (you know he had to have it!) and I've been snacking on too much of that deliciousness.
I got a little depressed about the weight gain, so I knew I had to do something about it. AND I wanted to understand why I was stress eating, and what I can do about it. And I wanted to share that with you guys because sharing is caring!
Stress eating can ruin your weight loss goals and we have to stay on track. We're all under stress! I'm sure everyone's stress is at a 10 right now. So I found this study is from 2018 (before COVID-19) that had a lot of information and some really great advice. These researchers have attributed a lot of weight gain to stress, and estimate that about a fourth of Americans rate their stress level as an 8 or more. And I'm sure we're all at a 10 right now!
SHORT TERM STRESS VERSUS PROLONGED STRESS:
Acute short term stress can actually shut down your appetite. The nervous system sends messages to the adrenal glands that sit on top of our kidneys and pump out the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. Epinephrine triggers the body's fight or flight response.
Prolonged stress though, can cause the adrenal glands to release cortisol which can INCREASE appetite and motivation to eat. Once a stressful episode is over, cortisol levels should fall back to normal, but if the stress doesn't go away or if your stress response gets stuck in the on position, cortisol will stay elevated and cause the body to want to eat in excess.
STRESS EATING, HORMONES & HUNGER
Crazy enough, stress also affects our eating preferences. Numerous studies have shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in sugar and fat. High cortisol levels combined with high insulin levels are responsible for this. These foods seem to have a feedback effect that dampens stress-related responses and emotions...comfort foods! They do seem to counteract stress, which can lead to stress-induced cravings for these foods. Of course, overeating isn't the only stress-related behavior. You can also lose sleep, exercise less and drink more alcohol which can all lead to weight gain.
WHY DO WE STRESS EAT?
Some research suggests that men and women turn to different vices: women tend to turn to food, and men tend to turn to alcohol and smoking. Another study suggests that overweight people have elevated insulin levels and stress-related weight gain is more likely to happen in the presence of high insulin. The amount cortisol each body produces may also play a role in weight gain.
WAYS TO RELIEVE STRESS
1) Don't keep your comfort foods handy! That can just invite trouble.
2) Meditation can help reduce stress and also help people become more mindful of food choices. I lock myself in my closet every morning (because I have a lot of pets and they all want to be with me 24/7 and I can't meditate in that condition!) and pray to God each day (hey, praying is a form of meditation) that I make the best food choices for myself. And that helps me a lot!
3) Exercise! Due to the current quarantine situation, a lot of people aren't getting out and exercising. But you still need to get in movement!! It is easy to move and exercise at home. You can go outside for walks, or use online workouts through YouTube or your favorite weight loss websites.I recommend yoga or Tai chai, as they are both great forms of movements AND meditation! You can look up videos for free on YouTube. I also have a treadmill and an elliptical at my house (but not everyone has one of those). And guess what?! I found a device under my bed that I never put together...the Total Gym workout! So I finally pulled it out for my family and me to use!
4) Get a support group together. I recently called upon my family and friends and put together a group of about 10 ladies who will hold each other accountable to reduce stress. So we are going to laugh, exercise and drink Ketones. We even started a Biggest Loser contest and are giving an award to our most active participant! If you want to join our accountability group, let me know! Our support system can definitely help keep you on track.
5) Try Intermittent Fasting. There is so much research behind IF having a massive impact on weight loss goals and an even bigger impact on a keto lifestyle. Here's what I try to do on a daily basis: I start my morning by drinking a small glass of warm water with Himalayan pink salt. Why? Because pink salt has 84 essential minerals and vitamins that we don't get otherwise! Then, when I feel hungry, I drink one of my pure therapeutic ketone drinks, and that ties me over until lunchtime. So then I eat actual food between the hours of 1 and 9 p.m., an eight-hour window, and fast for the other 16 hours of the day. It really works for me! It may not work for you and that's okay. You might find something else that works for you.
6) Increase good functional fats. I'm not talking about cheese and chicken wings! I mean MCT oil, salmon, avocados, macadamia nuts, walnuts, olives, coconut oil, etc. These food are functional fats, which means they are best suited to help your body absorb essential nutrients without hurting your cholesterol.
7) Lastly - Don't keep your comfort foods handy! When you're having a stressful day or period, you'll automatically be drawn to those foods that can help dampen your feelings of stress and anxiety. If you don't equip yourself with those troublesome tools, you're setting yourself up for success in the long run.
Let me know how these tips and tricks work out for you! And if you have any of your own, reach out and let me know what helps you combat stress in your daily life. Also, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need some suggestions for your lifestyle. Together, we can live a BETTER LIFE!