The Influence of Stress on your Waistline

by Garreth Myers


If stress has become a regular part of your life, rest assured that you are not alone. In fact, in today's fast-paced and hectic world, almost everyone feels at least some amount of stress, regardless of their age or gender. Stress is a natural reaction of the body, when it faces a situation that it cannot deal with easily. School children and teenagers too are under a tremendous amount of pressure, to excel in their studies, perform well in sports and shine in any other extracurricular activities that parents think they should take up. Most adults are completely involved in their demanding careers, where they need to perform better than the others, to get noticed and move up the ladder; those who are running in a business are not free of stress either, thanks to cut-throat competition and mounds of bills to be paid every month. The elderly may not have any work or school pressures to stress them out, but they have their own fair share of problems. Deteriorating health and family problems are some of the main factors that the elderly seemed to be worried about constantly, which could cause them to experience stress. Hence, it is safe to say that almost all of us suffer from stress, though the levels, the severity, the causes and the effects in each of us may vary. Almost everyone is well-aware of the fact that stress is very harmful and can have an adverse effect on the body. Some of the health problems that have been known to occur, due to excessive stress and anxiety include high blood pressure, heart diseases, insomnia or other sleeping disorders, digestive problems, strokes and diabetes. However, not a lot of people are aware of the fact that stress is one of the causes of obesity too. Studies indicate that stress is an abdominal weight gain factor too.

There are different ways in which stress can cause you to gain weight all over the body, including the abdominal area. When you experience stress, your body starts producing a hormone known as cortisol, which affects the body in many different ways, leading to weight gain. In prolonged states of stress, the cortisol remains in the body for a period of time that is longer than necessary. Elevated levels of cortisol in the body lead to the accumulation of fat in most of the problem area, which could include the abdomen. Given below are the different ways in which cortisol can affect the body, leading to a significant amount of weight gain:

Metabolism

During stressful situations, you may notice that you are gaining more weight, in spite of eating no more or no different than you have always eaten before. This is because the cortisol in your body has caused your metabolism to slow down, leading to weight gain. Hence, weight watchers who are stressed for any reason may find it more difficult to lose weight, as compared to those who practice relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, meditation and massages.

Blood Sugar

When you are under stress for a long period of time, the blood sugar levels in your body are bound to rise, leading to a condition such as hyperglycemia. This could also cause you to feel weak or tired, which affects your overall level of physical fitness. All these factors contribute to weight gain all over the body, including the abdomen.

Storage of Fat

Data shows that a rise in stress levels affects your body and where it tends to store the fat. The higher the level of stress, the more your body is likely to store all the fat in the abdominal area.

Food Cravings

What are you more likely to reach out for, when you feel stressed: a bowl of salad, or a tub of ice cream? While it may not always be ice cream you eat, stress can cause you to crave sweets like ice cream, chocolate, cookies and other desserts, or even salty snacks like chips. These foods are very high in fat and therefore, can cause you to gain a significant amount of weight.

Increase in Appetite

Apart from choosing the wrong food, you may also end up eating more than what you normally would in times of stress. You may notice that your body feels better while you are munching on a snack, or that you suddenly feel more energetic after that extra bar of candy.

Just like increase in stress can cause the abdominal fat to buildup, you can reduce the accumulation of fat in the area, by finding ways to reduce stress:

  • First of all, regardless of how busy you are, make it a point to eat a healthy breakfast, as it boosts your metabolism, gives your body energy to perform daily tasks and reduces food cravings later in the day.
  • Homemade food is a lot healthier than fast food and therefore, it's better to prepare a sandwich or salad at home, instead of visiting the vending machine or the closest fast food joint.
  • Avoid coffee or aerated beverages, as they can increase stress levels in the body. Instead, have some relaxing green tea or herbal tea, during the day.
  • Relaxation methods like meditating, exercising, performing yoga, deep breathing, or taking massages can also help deal with stress.

There are many other techniques on losing weight by dealing with stress. However, it is best to consult a doctor, before using any of them.


Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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