Believe it or not, stress is a natural part of life. Our ancient ancestors had to deal with stressors on a daily basis. The human body is built to handle sudden periods of stress. The body kicks in certain hormones which suppress the appetite, letting the person get through the stressful episode. Once the body returns to normal, the appetite returns to normal.
Why do I “stress-eat?”
You are probably familiar with the signs of stress eating. "I must eat right now." "I want ice cream!" "I cannot stop thinking about those doughnuts in the break room." "I have to eat to calm down." "I can't believe I ate the entire gallon of ice cream!"
The problem is that, for many people, stress is not something that comes suddenly then goes away quickly. It is something that comes and stays for long periods of time. This chronic cycle of stress is what starts the cascades of body effects that can lead to stress-related eating.
Constant stress triggers the neuroendocrine system to go into overdrive. The body gets an ongoing flow of adrenaline and corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH). The body also starts a disruptive cortisol rhythm. This abnormal disruption of hormones leads to a progression that leads the body to gain weight.
- It increases blood sugar levels.
- It creates cravings.
- It reduces the body's ability to burn fat.
- It increases the rate the body stores fat.
- It causes hormonal imbalances.
- It makes the cells less sensitive to insulin.
- It increases abdominal fat.
- It raises the levels of fat and triglycerides.
All of these results put a person on a course of weight gain. Left unchecked, this progression of events can lead to health problems, like Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart problems.
How do I manage stress?
Reducing stress levels is the best way to curtail this progression and keep the weight off. The good news is that taking steps to reduce stress can also help you lose weight. Taking a multi-pronged approach to reduce stress can also lead to weight loss.
Stress begins in the head. When a person is feeling stress, it usually surrounds a particular train of thought. If that train of thought begins to appear, actively managing it before it triggers the stress response will help keep the stress cascade from starting. Catch the thought, challenge its validity, and change the thought into something accurate and rational.
Physical activity is another way to reduce stress levels. As you start to exercise, the body naturally begins to regulate the hormone levels in the body. This helps reduce the cortisol cycle and keeps blood sugar levels steady, which in turn reduces stress related cravings. The bonus is that regular exercise not only lowers stress levels it can help you lose the weight you gained before.
In order to beat stress, you have to be mentally strong. If you are dealing with chronic stress, and seeing the results in extra weight, personal trainer Ralph Roberts can motivate you physically and mentally. He can help you break the stress cycle and get to a healthy weight. Get in touch with Ralph today for a free personal training session.